Poulet aux Coings


These quinces remind me of harvest moons. I used them in a sumptuous seasonal meal of chicken and quinces. The dish is enjoyed on the evening before Yom Kippur in Morocco and it was what I had planned to serve. Because they are rare, I was surprised to see quinces for sale in August; alas there were no quinces left in early September.
When my daughter was a little girl, we lived in an apartment with a quince tree in back. I had never seen a quince before, so I imagined a deliciously exotic fruit suitable for a wedding feast. Quince sounds soft and luscious. Imagine my surprise when the fruit developed into lumpy green-yellow “apples” which were hard and puckeringly sour.

A copy of The Best Foods of Russia by Sonia Uvezian came to me around that time. Ms Uvezian notes that the best foods of Russia come from the Caucassian republics: Armenia, Azerbaidzhan, and Georgia. I found many delicious ways to use quinces: Parch Bozbas (lamb soup with quinces, chestnuts and prunes), quince preserves with cinnamon, cloves, and almonds, sautéed quinces with roast pork, Ashtarak Dolma (quinces stuffed with lamb and rice)…
The quince tree is native to Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Pakistan and was introduced to Syria, Croatia, Bosnia, Turkey, Serbia, Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Bulgaria. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince

Poulet aux Coings
Chicken with Quinces
The Book of Jewish Food
•An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York•
by Claudia Roden

page 361
serves 6

  • 2 very large onions (about 1 ½ pounds), coarsely chopped
  • peanut or light vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 portions of chicken (thighs are good)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 pounds quinces
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup golden raisins

Heat the onions in 3 Tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan and stir in the cinnamon and ginger. Lay the chicken pieces on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and cook on very low heat for about 30 minutes, turning the chicken over once. The chicken fat and the onion juice should produce a rich sauce, but you may like to add a little water if it seems dry. Remove the chicken pieces and place them in a large baking dish that you can bring to the table.
Wash and scrub the quinces and cut them into quarter. Quinces are hard, so use a strong sharp knife. You do not need to peel and core them, simply cut away the ends. Pick out the seeds. Put the quarters quickly—into boiling water acidulated with the juice of 1 lemon and simmer until just tender, for about 20 – 30 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Drain and cool. Cut away the cores and slice each quarter in half.
Fry the quince slices in batches in shallow oil until brown. This gives them a caramelized flavor. Then place them into the sauce in which the chicken was cooked. Add the raisins.
Stir in the honey and the juice of the remaining lemon and cook over very gentle heat, with the lid on for about ½ hour, until very tender. Put the quince and sauce with the chicken in the baking dish and heat through.

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”
Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Edward Lear (1812 – 1888) and the first publication date of the owl and the pussycat was 1871.
resume reading Tess’s story…


11 thoughts on “Poulet aux Coings

  1. I love The Owl and the Pussycat and adore quinces. Our quince tree is covered in blossoms at the moment and you are harvesting fruit. Makes the hemispheres seem very balanced. Your dish seems both antique and auspicious – it makes me want to go out to the tree, inhale that heady quince perfume and dream about dishes to come.

    Speaking of dishes running away do you know:

    If dishes were wishes
    and all things delicious
    then dining on fishes
    we’ll do….

    • If wishes were horses, beggars would ride…

      I’ve not heard your version.

      That Owl and Cat video (David Hampshire), I found before (year ago?) but it ended just after the cliff. So I was happy to see he finally put up the rest of it. He has another video about a nature reserve in the same theme which is also enjoyable.

      I’m happy to hear about your quince tree. If we buy this (other) house, I think there will be space for a quince tree. Don’t know that I’ll be around to see the fruit but the gingko tree is there, dropping nuts already.

      I like the balance: fall here, spring for you. It’s morning or afternoon for someone now and night for me. Moments viewed at a specific time and place suggesting

      hmm wish i knew how to finish that sentence

      I think I get crazy and all when I’m tired—
      read this at the proper time and have a good night’s rest…

      • Tess if you plant a decent sized quince – say as tall as yourself – you will have fruit in a year or so! They are early croppers. We planted ours four years ago and last year it bore twenty furry, golden fruits. This year it looks to double that. Propping the branches as the fruit ripens helps to prevent the fruit’s weight breaking a wippy branch. (-:

        • That is good news about quince trees! Planting trees is for the future, but it’s nice to think that through the miracles of science the future is closer than we (I) knew.

          This house is looking promising. We had it inspected today, and while the inspector pointed out a serious problem with the main sewer line, plus the other negatives we already saw, he said it is a good house.

          We must do some careful thinking, getting estimates, etc. this week. But the bones are good: there will be sun in the library and dining room in winter, shade in summer. And don’t forget the gingko tree…

  2. Quince are often in the grocery stores in Mexico, where they are known as membrillo (mem-BREE-yoh). They are most often used here to make a kind of fruit paste and jam.

    Your dish of chicken and quince inspires me to add it to savory dishes, something I have never done before


  3. Hi Kathleen,

    I think you are lucky with quinces.

    —(Ah, me in January here, I’ll think you are lucky in Mexico, in sun, in walking outside without having to prepare like an astronaut, suiting up before opening a door)—

    I did a bit of Googling and learned that most of the quinces we in the U.S. can buy come from South America. Until this year, or maybe a little last year, I could not buy quinces in a grocery stores here. well rarely…


    • Indeed! Lots of good flavor for a small amount of work.
      Not Japanese, but sort of similar to the flavor of my Japanese autumn chestnut chicken a few days ago.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s