I was thinking of doing quince desserts and shortbread cookies, but frankly I feel like I’m already getting sick of quince. The flavor, normally known to be exquisite, is becoming rather mundane after having to taste so much of it in such a short time span. This happened last year as well, so maybe I’m just not much of a syrupy flavor guy. That, and my whole apartment smelled like quince on that Sunday night.
The two dishes with quince had two separate but common underlying issues, which can be directly attributed to what I call, component assertiveness. One of them was very correctable, the other – not so much.
For the other segment of Test Kitchen, I cooked a bunch of fresh gold cayenne. The gold cayenne was mainly just used to make hot sauce because for some stupid reason, I thought hot sauce making would be fun. Don’t be mistaken - hot sauce making is still fun, but it’s the hot sauce tasting that was torturous. I mindlessly thought I need something at home beside the casual sriracha to kick up dishes a notch, but now I’m in fear of my own creations. Figures.
Onto the menu baby!
Gold Cayenne Sambal w/ sante fe chiles (for additional flavor), garlic, shallots, belacan
Smoked Gold Cayenne and Fig Jam w/ Mirasol chipotle, Cabernet reduction
Sonoma Duck with Quince Puree and Gold Beets
Smoked Bison Tataki in Muscat Poached Quince Cups w/ Pickled Watermelon Radish
Onto the pics: Gold Cayenne
I took out most of the chili insides for the sambal, but it was still spicy as all hell. The smoked fig jam had most of the seeds and membrane, so it ended up burning like an inferno. This was probably also because smoking the chilies seem to intensify everything. I went through half a bag of english muffins and 3 quarts of milk that night just to hold off the heat. I also tried to taste sriracha and classic sambal in the middle of my tasting, but at that point those sauces tasted like apple juice. Smoky fig hot pepper jam was dangerously good – literally.
The quince cup was an utter failure despite the execution being completely flawless. The quince was overpowering, and while, the bison stood out – it didn’t come together at all. There were also issues with texture and flavor concentration between ingredients; it was like a war of competing flavors that should have worked, but didn’t. This really sucked considering all the work hours needed to get such a dish done. The duck dish was very good because the puree had the proper texture to pair with the duck and the beets added a very distinctive sweetness and necessary hint of earthiness. If I had to do it again, I’d make the duck more assertive likely with smoking. So the best dish to come out of both these dishes is probably a smoked duck with quince puree and a beet medley of some sort.