Saffron Chicken with Quinces

The quince is an odd fruit that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear... but fuzzy. It smells heavenly, a bit like pineapple. When raw, it's sour, astringent, and tough, but when cooked its taste is incredibly rich and delicious, like apple intensified! Not many people grow quinces anymore, and the only places I know to get them are from Gutierrez Farm and Macias Farm at the Downtown Growers' Market.

Saffron, one of the world's most expensive spices, comes from the stigma of a crocus which blooms in fall. They actually grow quite well in Albuquerque, so I've just ordered some for my garden - now is the time to plant them, and most nurseries will sell out by the end of October.

This flavorful chicken stew with quinces is common, with many variations, in the Mediterranean and Middle East. My pomegranate tree is loaded with fruit right now, so I added some pomegranate seeds as a garnish, but next time I would also incorporate them into the stew.

1 whole chicken, cut up into serving pieces
4 quinces
1 medium onion
A pinch of saffron threads
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1 C. chicken stock
1 t. honey
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (optional)

Cut quinces into eighths, removing the seeds and stem. Heat oil in a wide skillet over medium flame. Sear the chicken until browned on both sides, and set aside. Add onion to the skillet and cook until translucent. Push the onions to one side of the skillet, add quinces and brown on both sides. Stir in spices, stock and honey. Add most of the pomegranate seeds (optional) but save a handful for garnish. Put chicken pieces back into the skillet, cover tightly and simmer 30 minutes or until the chicken is done and the quinces are tender but not mushy.


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