The season for citrus, apples, pears and quinces has arrived, and while these winter fruits are undeniably delicious baked into cakes or tucked under buttery crumbles, there’s so much more you can do with them.
Throughout the ages, fruit has been used in savoury dishes, but the more delicate summer fruits don’t often hold up well to robust cuts of meat that require long, slow cooking. Winter fruit, however, is perfectly suited to this kind of food.
Next time you decide to have a roast for dinner, get yourself a pork shoulder and roast it slowly in a bed of thickly sliced red onions, apples and pears. There’s no need to peel the fruit; the peel adds visual and textural interest. Toss the sliced onion and fruit in a little oil, salt and pepper before sliding the roast into the oven. About twenty minutes before you plan to take the roast out of the oven, douse the whole thing – onions and fruit included – in a cup or two of good, local apple or pear cider. When the roast is cooked, rested and sliced, serve with the roasted fruit and onion cooked in the roast’s juices and the cider. (No need for gravy!) Soak up the juices with fresh, crusty bread or crispy roast potatoes.
Also try: pork belly chilli roast with pecan nut baked apples, apple-stuffed pork chops, pork cooked in apple cider sandwiches or these pork and apple burgers with caramelised onions and melty camembert.
For your next lamb roast, try something similar to the pork roast described above, but use quartered quinces instead of pears and apples. (Quince skin can be tough and a little hairy, so you can peel them.) Quinces need to be cooked very slowly and for a long time before they soften enough to be edible, so make sure you subject your lamb to a particularly long and slow roast. You’ll definitely need a cut with the bone in it, since a boneless cut would overcook and dry out long before the quinces are cooked. Quinces work well with aromatic spices, and so do lamb cuts. Try adding some star anise to the roasting pan along with the quinces, or rub the lamb in a mixture of coarsely ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Instead of cider, douse the roast and quinces with some sweet wine – something local made from the Hanepoot grape works well. Serve the lamb with fluffy bulgur wheat or mashed sweet potatoes.
Also try: Orange and Moroccan spice-marinated lamb riblets or these hearty winter lamb shank pot pies with juniper berries, anise and cassia. If you’re a true lamb fan, try one of these 17 ways with lamb.
Beef short-rib is delicious when cooked so slowly that the meat falls off the bone, and it’s paired with a good amount of freshly squeezed orange juice and a few strips of orange peel. Simply sear the ribs in a hot pan, remove them, and sauté chopped onion, celery and carrot in the juices until soft. Deglaze the pan with some dry red wine, add beef stock, orange juice and orange peel. Return the seared ribs to the pan and simmer away slowly for hours until the ribs fall apart when prodded. Scoop them out carefully, remove the orange peel from the cooking liquid and reduce the liquid to a thick, syrupy sauce. Serve the ribs in their sauce on polenta or over sturdy pappardelle (preferably homemade). Pork is also great with orange.
Also try: Japanese-style version of pork belly with bonito flakes.
Instead of the usual lemon, try stuffing a roasting chicken with a mix of different citrus – a halved mandarin, a halved lime, and a wedge of grapefruit, for example. Roast the chicken as usual, and then make gravy with the juices, adding dashes of mandarin, lime and grapefruit juice for a light, zingy sauce. To boost the citrus content even more, serve the roast chicken alongside a salad made with grapefruit segments, orange segments and avocado wedges.
Also try: Crispy garlic chicken with coriander and lemon pesto or lemon spring chicken kebabs. Seafood is also great with citrus, as shown in this grilled salmon with citrus glaze. If you have too many leftover lemons (is there such a thing?), check out our list of 20 things to do with lemons.