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Author Notes: After being reminded about the wonder-of-a-cheese-partner that is Membrillo, a Spanish classic particularly good with a slab of Manchego, I decided to adapt the traditional recipe to give it a Christmassy twist. ‘‘Tis the season after all. This Quince-mas Jelly will be the perfect pal for your Boxing Day cheese board. —Tom Dabner
Makes a small loaf tin of membrillo
- 3 Large Quince (about the size of an orange)
- 3 cups Sugar
- 6-8 Cloves
- 2 Blood Oranges
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- Peel your quince, and remove the cores. You can use an Apple corer for this or simply slice around the centre to remove the tough part of the flesh and the seeds. Slice them up into 2cm chunks and pop into a pan big enough for you to cover all the pieces with water.
- Zest one of the oranges and set aside for later. Slice the skinless orange in half and juice it into the pan with the water covered quince. Drop in the juiced halves too for extra flavour.
- Add the cloves (remember cloves pack a heavy aroma, so you can add less if you want) and bring to a boil. Once bubbling turn the heat right down to low and simmer for an hour or so until the quince is soft, but still holds it’s shape.
- Once the quince has softened, take the pan off the heat and drain off the water. Remove the cloves and orange halves, being careful not to burn yourself on the fruit which will be very hot!
- Blitz the quince in a food processor or food mill — or even use a handheld blender, they all work fine. You want a smooth consistency and should end up with a thickish paste. Return to the pan if you haven’t already and mix in the sugar, before adding the cinnamon and orange zest. This will really zing up the flavours.
- Keep this on a low heat. I recommend popping a lid on the pan to avoid any spluttering as the mix will bubble away fairly vigorously. Let it bubble for about and hour, stirring regularly until it darkens in colour to a deep rose and reduces by half to three quarters. It should be a thick spreadable consistency.
- Once thickened take off the heat and let it start to cool while we prep the final part. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment making sure there is plenty to go up and over the sides. Now, remember that second blood orange? Slice it into thin rounds. These will become the gorgeous ruby coloured decoration.
- Simply spoon out the quince mixture into the tin and use a spatula or the back of a spoon to smooth the top. It doesn’t have to be perfect as the orange slices will cover it up. Place orange slices on top of the mix however you like, make it as pretty as you can. Push them down so they sit flush with the top of the jelly.
- Leave to cool overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready, remove your Membrillo from the tin by lifting up the edges of the parchment. Peel this off and arrange on a board.. Slice into wedges to serve with cheese. Or as a festive gift, wrap small slabs in cellophane and tie with colour string!