A slice of membrillo on manchego cheese is one of my favorite food pairings, especially around the holidays. With a glass of Rioja, it’s heaven on Spanish turf.
Membrillo is a thick jelly made of quince that you can find in specialty cheese shops. However, in his newly published “Apple: Recipes From the Orchard” (Hardie Grant, $29.99), cookbook author James Rich reminded me that I could make something similar from apples, which are grown in abundance in this region.
Rich’s recipe calls for baking apples. He’s a Brit, so he recommends Bramley. But varieties like Jonagold, GoldRush, Braeburn and Pink Lady would all work. Mainly, you want an apple that offers tartness and sweetness, but is not overly crisp or sugary.
This is a lovely recipe for lazy cooks because you don’t have to core or peel the apples. In fact, you need those parts because they provide the pectin to help set the jelly. A few squeezes of lemon juice wouldn’t hurt, either.
If you want to assemble a Georgia-made version of heaven on earth, chef Nick Leahy of Aix proposes serving the apple membrillo with Thomasville Tomme, an aged, semisoft cow’s milk cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy. Daniel Pernice, beverage director for RO Hospitality (Table and Main, Osteria Mattone, Coalition Food and Beverage), suggests sipping it with petit manseng from up-and-coming North Georgia wine producer Noble Wine Cellar. (Look for it at Hop City’s Krog Street location and Murphy’s in Virginia-Highland.)
“It features ripe fruit flavors but plenty of acidity to help preserve the balance,” Pernice said of the wine pairing.
The holidays can get stressful. So preserve your balance. Apple membrillo, a wedge of cheese and a bottle of wine: What could be simpler? Cheers to easy entertaining.
Excerpted with permission from “Apple: Recipes From the Orchard” by James Rich, published by Hardie Grant Books, September 2019.
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