Some people love pairing meat with fruit, others dislike the idea.
This article is for those that love the color, flavor, acidity, sweetness, complexity and lightness that both fresh and dried fruit bring to meat dishes.
Whether it's figs, apricots, or prunes in a tagine, chopped apricots mixed with minced lamb, chicken or duck and stuffed with dried fruit, or prunes added to slow-cooked lamb shanks - fresh and dried fruits add tangy tastes, sweetness and acidity that enliven meat dishes, enhancing and smoothing their flavors.
Meat and fruit can be a perfect combination with the right pairs.
This article provides advice, tips and recipe ideas for pairing fruit with various types of red and white meat.
The strong flavors of game such as venison, pairs well with the flavors of fruits such as dates, pomegranates, raisins, pears, peaches, citrus fruits, cranberries, raspberries, cherries and apples.
► Rabbit has a mild flavor that pairs well with lemons, oranges and other citrus, prunes, plums, currants and apples.
► Lamb is enhanced by the flavor of fresh fruits, citrus, berries and many dried fruits such as raisins, prunes, pomegranates, figs, dates, cranberries and apricots.
► Chicken and Turkey are enhanced with a wide range of fresh and dried fruits such as raisins, citrus, prunes, pomegranates, pears, peaches, mangoes, grapes, currants, cranberries, bananas, apricots and apples. Orange zest and marmalade pair well with chicken, turkey and duck
► The stronger taste of duck can handle richer fruit flavors such as grapes, prunes, pomegranates, pears, peaches, mangoes, citrus varieties, figs, dates, currants, apricots, cranberries, cherries and blueberries.
► Pork goes well with a wide range of fruits such as apricots, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums, quince, mangoes, dried figs, dried cherries, currants, strawberries, cranberries and apples.
► The more delicate flavor of veal pairs well with figs, apples, grapes, lemons, cantaloupes and melons, limes and oranges.
► Beef has a strong taste that pairs well with sweeter stronger fruit such as peaches, pineapple, kiwi fruit, plums, prunes, apricots and mangoes. Citrus and the more acidic fruits are less suitable.
Try these recipe ideas to explore how you can combine fruits with meats for delightful dishes.
Place the meat in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, add the wine marinate for several hours in the refrigerator or overnight.
Heat the olive oil in a deep pan, slow cooker, or pressure cooker. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the marinated beef, thyme and the wine marinade liquid. Add the broth and cook slowly, following the instructions for the slow cooker or pressure cooker. Cook slowly for several hours on the stove top, as an alternative. Add the dried fruits and vegetables and cook until the vegetables are just tender.
Peel the pineapple, remove the core and slice half into thick slices. Set aside for adding latter. Chop the other half of the pineapple into small large chunks. Using a medium size bowl, combine the pineapple chunks, half a teaspoon of salt, half the fresh coriander, ground coriander, peanuts, chilli, oil, sugar, coconut, soy, ginger and garlic. Add the pork chops, mix to cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hour.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Heat ridged griddle pan or barbecue hot plate on high heat until it starts to smoke. Lift out the pork chops, drain and and scrape any marinade on the surface of the chops back into the bowl. Keep the marinade. Season the pork chops well with salt and pepper and grill the chops two at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side. The chops should be nicely browned on both sides. Add the pineapple slices to the griddle or hot plate and fry for 2 minutes, turning once, until well browned on both sides.
Place the grilled chops into to a deep-sided 12 in x 9 in (32cm x 22cm) baking tray. Add the pineapple slices and pour in the saved the marinade. Place the baking tray into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork chops are just cooked (times will vary) and the sauce bubbling. Remove from the oven and set aside for 3 minutes to develop the flavors. Serve with couscous, rice or mashed potato. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and freshly ground black pepper.
For the Cooked Fennel
For the Fresh Mandarin sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (220 degrees C). Wash the chicken inside and out under cold running water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Juice the lemons and put the two squeezed lemon halves into the cavity. Combine the salt, oil, lemon juice and cinnamon together in a small bowl and rub all over the chicken. Place the chicken on a shallow baking pan (that can be used on the stove top), breast-side up. Add a cup or water to the roasting and roast for 20 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and cook for an additional 40 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked, but still moist. Remove the chicken and keep warm. Reserve the pan for making the sauce.
Cut the peeled fennel into wedges and place in an oiled baking tray. Sprinkle all over with the five spice powder. Sprinkle over about 1/4 cup. Cover the baking tray loosely with foil. Add to the oven about half an hour after the chicken. Remove the foil after about 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven when cooked and add the brown sugar and soy sauce to the fennel.
To make the mandarin sauce, drain most of the fat drippings from the baking pan used for the chicken. Fry the garlic and ginger in the pan until soft. Add the shoaxing wine (or sherry) and scrape the pan to deglaze and collect the flavors. Add the chicken stock and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Zest one mandarin and add the zest to the sauce. Juice all of the mandarins, add to the sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Strain the sauce into a bowl, Clean the pan and then put the sauce back into it. Gently boil the sauce to reduce its volume to about half. Add sugar and soy sauce to taste.
Serve with rice and vegetables pouring over the mandarin sauce.
For the dried fruits
Moroccan spice mix (ground in a mortar and pestle)
Slice the beef into large chunks. Coat the meat with the spices mix, onion and garlic. Set aside for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish or deep oven-proof frying pan. Add the meat mixture and braise for several minutes. Add the salt, saffron and chilli flakes. Add the cinnamon stick and pour in enough water to barely cover the meat. Bake for about 2 1/2 hours until the meat is tender.
Next, add the dried apricots and figs to pot and cover with hot water. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the prunes, sugar, rosewater and simmer for an another 5 minutes. Allow to cool while the meat is cooking. The fruits will swell and absorb most of the liquid.
Remove the casserole from the oven when the meat is just tender. Spoon in the fruit mixture and bake for an extra 30-60 minutes. Serve with couscous or rice.