This year someone gave me a whole bag of little quince from their tree. They don’t look at all like the usual fruit and, small and knobbly, I knew there would be nothing left if I started in to peel, core, etc. So I put them in the pan whole, half covered with water on a low heat and, knowing it would take ages for them to soften, went about my business elsewhere. Less than half an hour later the house was filling with a rich perfume and I bounded into the kitchen to find the whole fruits blossoming soft in a reducing liquid. I put them through a sieve, leaving behind the pips and the skins and the gritty bits that feel like toe nail clippings, and found I had a wonderful sunny puree. As I hadn’t added anything to the poaching liquid I added sugar to taste, and some lemon juice, which may preserve the colour, or may not, I don’t know.
I’m amazed. This puree is tart and fruity and would make a lovely sorbet, or a stunning ice cream, or a filling for little tiny tartlets, or…just about anything. But tonight it is going to add zing to a newly shot pheasant (mind your fillings).
The pheasant recipe is embarrassingly easy:
Preheat the oven to 200ºC
Liberally cover the base of a shallow, lidded casserole dish with olive oil, herbs (fresh or dried, but lots) and seasoning.
Half or quarter some waxy potatoes and turn them in the oil.
Joint your pheasant, musing on how you might have been a damn good surgeon.
Season the joints and place on top of the potatoes.
Chop an onion roughly, chop a couple of cloves of garlic finely, scatter over pheasant.
Season again, add more herbs, splash on some more oil.
Cover and cook in the oven for an hour.
Uncover for last ten minutes to allow to brown.
Serve with something green and a spoonful of the fabulous quince puree.