Lamb-Stuffed Quince with Pomegranate and Cilantro

What You'll Need

  • measuring cups and spoons
  • vegetable peeler
  • large mixing bowl
  • melon baller or very sturdy spoon
  • large skillet or dutch oven with lid
  • blender or food processor
  • platter for serving
  • 14 oz ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 red chili, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped, plus more to garnish
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 TBS finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 4 quince
  • juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 1 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • seeds from 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
This recipe enchanted me from the first moment I read the description, and I was just as enchanted when quince season came around and I was able to make it. Quince is such an aromatic, flavorful fruit, and yet because it requires plenty of cooking to make it edible, it is not commonly used. That’s a shame. The smell of this dish as it was cooking filled the whole house, and the flavor was absolutely stunning. The recipe is from Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. For a simpler version, they recommend dicing all of the quince, and cooking it into the sauce alongside the formed meatballs. While it’s true that the quince requires a bit of work to hollow out (they are quite a firm fruit), the end result is so lovely that it seems worth doing. While it seems the height of hubris to claim to improve an Ottolenghi recipe, we added a broiling step that made the meatballs golden-brown and lovely. Make it yourself, and see if you think the extra step is warranted.


Place the lamb in a mixing bowl, and add the garlic, chile, cilantro, breadcrumbs, allspice, half the ginger, half of the onion, egg, 3/4 tsp salt, and some pepper. combine stuffing ingredientsMix well with your hands, and set in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the quince.mix well with your hands
Peel the quince and halve them. peel quincePut the halves in a bowl of cold water, with the juice of the half lemon, so that they do not turn brown. Use a melon baller or a small sturdy spoon to hollow out the quince halves so that you are left with a 2/3-inch thick shell. scoop out seedsquince thicknessReserve the scooped out flesh.

Fill the hollowed quince halves with the lamb mix, using your hands to push it down.use hands to fill quince
Place the reserved quince flesh in a blender or food processor and blitz to chop well.blend reserved quince
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or shallow Dutch oven for which you have a lid. Transfer the blended quince to the pan, along with the remaining ginger, onion, and the seeds from cardamom pods. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, until the onion has softened.cook quince
Add the molasses, 1 TBS lemon juice, sugar, stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper and mix well. saute quince fruit
Add the quince halves to the sauce, facing upwards, and lower the heat to a gentle simmer.add stuffed quince and simmer
Cover the pan and cook for about 30 minutes. cover and cookIn the end, the quince should be completely soft, the meat well cooked, and the sauce thick. Lift the meatballs out of the quince halves to check that the meat is cooked through. Lift the lid and simmer for a minute or two to reduce the sauce, if needed.lift meat mixture to check doneness
The original recipe stops cooking here, but we found that just 6-8 minutes in the broiler gave the meatballs a lovely browned quality, making them so much prettier, while keeping their tender, mouth-melting savory sweetness.

To serve, scatter chopped cilantro and pomegranate seeds over the top.

serve with pomegranate and cilantroOver to You

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