« Col tempo e con la paglia maturano le sorbe. »
«Service tree pomes ripen with straw and time. »
(italian traditional proverb)
|« ed è ragion, ché tra li lazzi sorbi |
si disconvien fruttare al dolce fico. »
The fruit of the service tree is one of them and now it's very difficult to find if not in some farmer markets which are periodically held in various town over the Apennine mountains.
It is harvested in autumn still immature, so to avoid to fall on the ground, and left to ripen, once spreaded on straw, until it becomes very mature and take on a purplish brown color.
When unripen its taste is bitter and astringent, absolutely not fit to be eaten, with the right ripeness it becomes sweet while keeping a very personal flavor with a hint of bitterness reminiscent of boiled wine.
It was used in the traditional popular cuisine, especially for the preparation of jams (along with sugar, vanilla and/or lemon zest), to prepare the Italian recipe of the famous mead, the drink derived from fermented honey water, or even a kind of cider by fermenting the pomes in some water.
The most common consumption of this fruit, however, was "direct", ie choosing the ripest ones in the attics where they were spread to mature and bringing them to the table during the winter days when other fruits were absent.
The recipe I am proposing is instead more "sophisticated", although also traditional and rather old, and sees the pomes used to prepare a sauce that can be served over red meat (as in this case) but also on turkey or guinea fowl, or even on freshwater seafood.
Ingredients (serves 4)
2 1/5 lb. boneless loin of pork
⅔ lb. very ripe service tree pomes
½ cup honey
3½ oz. bacon
2 teaspoons quince seed cloves
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 sprig of rosemary
2 cups white wine
Dress the meat with cloves and bacon. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper and place in a oven preheated at 350 F for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile peel the quinces, remove core and cut into rounds. Melt in a pan half honey along with two cups of wine and dip the quince rounds. Cook until soft. Remove the rounds and keep them aside, pour into the pan the service tree pomes, the other honey, cinnamon and ginger and a bit of water if needed. Cook until the pomes will be completely mushed. Pour through a sieve to remove skin and seeds and cook againthe sauce until it has the desired thickness while adding a pinch of salt. Arrange the roast on a bed made with quince rounds and cover with sauce. Put in the oven just enough to warm it whole and serve.
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