When shopping for quinces to cook with, it’s best to buy them hard—a soft quince will be mealy. Some mottling of the skin is fine, as is some of the quince’s signature bumpiness, but quinces that aren’t completely yellow should be allowed to ripen in the refrigerator until they turn color and begin to release their perfume.
1 vanilla bean
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)
5 large quinces
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp calvados (apple brandy)
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
¾ cup apple juice
(1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
(2) Slice vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife and scrape the seeds into a saucepan.
(3) Add pod halves and butter and cook over medium heat, until butter develops a rich amber color and a nutty aroma, about 5 minutes.
(4) Remove from heat and discard vanilla pod halves.
(5) Peel, core and cut quinces into ¼-inch dice.
(6) Toss diced quince in a large mixing bowl with browned butter and vanilla seeds, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, calvados, salt, cider vinegar and ½ cup apple juice.
(7) Arrange mixture in a large roasting pan, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure that the fruit is coated with pan juices. If liquid evaporates too quickly, add remaining apple juice.
(8) Discard foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until fruit starts to caramelize. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
(9) Serve warm as is, over vanilla ice cream or with whipped cream. It will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.