I get a bit overexcited when I see quince in the greengrocer- they are one of the few things that you can't get all year round, so I like to make sure I buy them when I can. Some end up flavouring vodka, and some for pudding- last year I poached quinces in mulled wine and honey, with pleasing results. I've also used grated quince as instead of apple in mincemeat, which was nice but not necessarily better. I'm most interested in using them in savoury dishes, either to add needed sweetness to things like tajines, or as a foil to something fatty, like duck or pork belly. I had seen a recipe a while ago that had stuck in my head for roast pork belly with quince. I couldn't find the original recipe, or remember everything that went in it, so this is my spin on it. I loved the results- fatty, sticky pork belly with sour, fragrant quince.
1 piece pork belly, skin scored
2-3 cloves garlic
½- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
About 1 tbsp thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Peel the garlic cloves, and put in a pestle and morter with the thyme leaves, and pound to a paste. Add the fennel seeds, and lightly crush. Add a little olive oil to loosen the consistency, and some salt and pepper. Rub all over the sides and bottom of the pork belly- don’t put any of the garlic paste on the skin, but do give it a good sprinkling of sea salt. Place the pork in a roasting tray. With a sharp, heavy knife, cut the quince into slim segments, cutting out any core/pips you get on your slices. Peel and slice the onions, and scatter around the pork belly with the quince. Lightly slick the onion and quince slices with some olive oil, and season. Roast for 25 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160 degrees and roast for another 1 and half-2 hours. Turn the heat up towards the end of cooking time if the skin is not completely crispy and blistered.
Leave the meat to rest under some foil for at least 10 minutes before serving.