I spotted this bountiful sight of a quince-laden tree outside my sister's window last week. Every day since, the vision has been taunting me with the prospect of homemade membrillo.
With just a few pulls on the apple picker, I scored a hefty bounty and got to work. Still wasn't that much work, though! It just takes a bit of time. Membrillo is great for hard cheese. Traditionally paired with manchego in Spain, it's wonderful with other rich sheep milk cheeses, like those from the French side of the Basque region, like Ossau Iraty or Petite Basque, or even a salty, smoky one like Idiazabal, from the Spanish side of the Basque region. But across the board, an aged sheep milk cheese is a delicious way to go. You'll typically find membrillo in square slabs or blocks. Sliced into pieces, it makes for a neat presentation atop a cracker or directly on a wedge of cheese. But I opted not to smooth it into a square dish and even forwent the process of letting it set entirely. I served it the day I made it, piled into a little dish, and let people do the spreading themselves. I prefer it this way, actually. It's more of a jam or chutney, and presents more homey and less geometric. You can easily spread it into a dish after you make it and invert it for slicing, or transfer it to a jar and serve it like a jam. Either way, expect a wonderfully apple-pear condiment that'll compliment your cheeses in the evening, and your toast in the morning.
I like a chunkier texture. If you like a smoother paste, you can strain it after cooking.