So…I’m a total quince convert. I was a little overwhelmed after bringing home half a box of these fragrant fruits from our local National Clonal Germplasm Repository last month, but as soon as I started cooking with them, I was hooked. I made quince sauce and quince paste (kinda like this) and some extra thin/extra dry quince paste that turned out more like quince leather but is still a delicious snack that I’ve been gnawing on all day.
I got started with this quince fest because of my friend and personal pastry coach Ana, who’s way more legit than I’ll ever be when it comes to baking. (She’s a real professional!) She loves quince and got me started with basic quince recipes, but I wanted to do something original and fun for adventure’s sake and to give Ana a little challenge. I’m not sure where the idea of quince meringue pie came from, but once it was decided, we set upon googling and thumbing through various cookbooks for tips and inspiration. The rules were: no electric mixers, and it must be bake-able in a barbecue.
Ana came over and spent most of a Sunday at the cabin recipe testing, gossiping, and communing with my goats. I schooled her in the art of barbecue baking, and she whipped up several different custard options. We dabbled and argued and researched, and in the end, we came up with a reproduceable recipe that is quite good (if I do say so myself).
This pie pairs unsweetened chunks of quince with very sweet and subtly flavored meyer lemon custard. The meringue on top just makes the whole thing more fun. Though we didn’t try it, you could probably get prettier slices if you cooked the quince down to a thick, pink sauce and spread it in the bottom of the pie crust instead of just plopping in the yellow quince pieces.
Quince and Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie
Assemble and pre-bake a pie crust. (I always use this recipe.)
Peel, core, and roughly chop 2 medium quince. In a pot, cover the quince chunks in water, and gently simmer until fork tender.
for the custard:¼ cup cornstarch ¾ cup sugar, divided 2 cups milk, divided 4 egg yolks (reserve egg whites for the meringue) zest and juice from 2 meyer lemons pinch of salt 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 tablespoons butter
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and ¼ cup sugar. Pour in ½ cup milk while whisking the cornstarch mixture. Whisk in the egg yolks.
Mix the remaining ½ cup sugar, 1 ½ cups milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Heat it on medium high until just before boiling. Pour a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the room temperature egg yolk mixture. Pour all of the egg yolk mixture from the bowl back into the saucepan. Whisk until the custard reaches a full boil and begins to thicken. Whisk for another minute to cook out the chalky starch texture. Remove from heat. Stir in the salt, vanilla, and butter. Transfer the custard to a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.
When the custard is thoroughly cooled, and you’re ready to assemble the pie, arrange poached quince pieces over the bottom of the pie crust. Stir the custard until smooth again, and pour it over the quince pieces. Store the pie in the refrigerator while you make the meringue.
for the meringue:4 egg whites 1/2 cup sugar ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Whip the egg whites until foamy. Add a tablespoon of sugar and the cream of tarter, and whip well. Continue adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whipping between each addition until stiff peaks form.
Remove pie from the refrigerator, and spread the meringue over the surface, making sure to touch the crust all the way around the circumference. Bake at 325° (or medium-low in your barbecue) for 20 minutes. Let it cool at room temperature, and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Slice and serve.
In other news, you can read a little breakfast-centric interview I did over on Jen Causey’s beautiful blog here.