Grandma’s Pork & Quince (Κυδώνια-της-Γιαγιάς)

My relatives can be divided into two camps: the father’s side of the family and the mother’s side. The two camps are also geographically divided with all of my dad’s side of the family residing here in Canada and save for two of my mom’s first cousins here in Canada, the rest of her family reside in Greece.

Many friends have asked why I go to Greece so often, is their not a whole other world out there to explore and enjoy? My obvious answer is “yes” BUT…I always remind them that I have aunts and uncles, dozens of cousins, friends and friends of the family and for a long time, maternal grandparents. It’s important for me to stay connected with them.

My mom’s parents have both since passed on but memories of them are triggered each time I go to Greece and I always visit the cemetary to light a candle for them.

My maternal grandmother’s(yiayia) name was Agape, translated litterally as “love”. What woman would marry at a young age, bear five children, embrace grandparents in the household, be the CEO of a household that had nine hungry mouths and manage sneak away some food to some less fortunate and starving relatives?

Only a lady with the name of Agape.

Having found a good and reliable source of quince this past autumn, my mom recalled a dish her mother (my yiayia Agape) would make during the winter months. My parents both also recall the annual slaughtering of the pigs for the winter and pork (like in much of the word) would get paired with fruits.

This dish comes from mom’s memories as a child and this dish of pork & quince is one of those food memories. Basically you have paillards of pork meat that rolled around good slices of quince and placed over a bed of potatoes and quince and tossed in olive oil plus the zest and juice of one orange.

I was skeptical as to how tasty the resulting dish would taste like but that eroded to expose a roast that was aromatic, easy on the eye and absolutely delicious.

If you can still find some quince in your neck of the woods, give this bake a try…it’s easy, it’s old school Greek and it tastes delicious.

This dish brought back many fond memories of my yiayia Agape and for me, food and aromas transports me, triggers memories. I hope this dish does the same for you.

Grandma’s Pork & Quinces (Χοιρινό & Κυδώνια της Γιαγιάς)
(serves 6)

1 1/2 of lean bonless pork (loin, or leg)
12 medium to large Russet or other baking potatoes
1/3 cup of olive oil
4 quinces

zest and juice of 1 orange

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heated 450F oven

  1. To slice your pork thinly, place the piece of meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes to harden. Cut thin slices of pork, say about 3-4 per person and place each piece between plastic wrap and pound out into paillards (cutlets). Reserve.
  2. Peel and cut your potatoes into uniform sizes and place in the roasting pan. Peel and core your quinces. Two quinces should be cut up into chunks that are the size of the potatoes and the other two quince should be cut up into 1/2cm slices that can fit and rolled into the pork paillards (cutlets).
  3. Pour the olive oil over the potatoes and quince, add the zest and juice of one orange and preheat your oven. Season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat the potatoes and quince. Taste the oil in the pan to check and adjust seasoning accordingly.
  4. Assemble your pork and quince rolls by laying out a pork cutlet, lightly season the inside with salt and pepper and place a slice of quince at one of the cutlet. Roll the pork around the quince (snugly) and afix with a toothpick. Continue assembling your pork and quick rolls until all the pork has been rolled. If there’s any pieces of quince left, toss them in the roasting pan with the potatoes and quince.
  5. Lightly season the outside of your pork and quince roll-ups and place on the bed of potatoes and quince. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes and then take out the baking dish and flip the pork-rolls so that the underside also cooks to a nice deep-brown colour. Reduce the oven’s temperature to 400f and continue to roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the the potatoes are fork-tender.
  6. Serve each plate with a pile of potatoes and quince, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil and serve with a winter green salad.

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49 Comments for “Grandma’s Pork & Quince (Κυδώνια-της-Γιαγιάς)”



Count me in for some of that, Peter!

Quinces didn’t play any part in my childhood, sadly – but I have discovered them in adulthood, and am near-obsessed with them! They’re not easy to get over here, so are like precious stones when they are in season.

This recipe sounds wonderful – and a great way in which to use the lovely fruit.

Katherine Aucoin


I have seen quinces in the grocery but didn’t know what they were or how to use them. This dish is so different and so appealing. I’m so hungry right now, would you fix a plate for me? ;-)



I love memory food! I have never had quince before but this recipe would be one that I would try with them. What a great way for you and your Mom to honor your Grandmother’s memory!



Yay to your Grandma’s recipe, it looks deeeelish (another one for my endless list of ‘Kalofagas’ must makes)!
Yay again to going to Greece so often! You can’t beat going to Greece says I – who will be off there again later this year and can not wait!



Aside from the wonderful dish, I adore how you write about keeping close to your roots. What a fantastic woman your grandmother was! Agape does translate as love..but a very special type of all encompassing love. This is what your post told me about your relationship to your family and those who have gone before. These stories are what blogging should be about. I would love to hear more about these things..and those birds! haha How are they doing? ;)
Baci! xox



What a wonderful post! Your grandmother was a very special woman. And I can definitely see why you go back to visit Greece so often..why wouldn’t you?

This dish looks perfect for the long cold winter. I’m going to see if I can find some quince at the the stores.



I am always awed that you know where your family came from, and who they are. I have myself, my dearly beloved and the kids. I love your tributes to your family in Canada and Greece.



Peter you are lucky to have a large welcoming family. Its so wonderful when these recipes are preserved and handed down. Sounds like a scrumptious dish.

Happy cook


I should look out got this quince. I saw yesterday a recipe in Ivy place to with them.
These look so yummy also.
Wish i had that plate. Then i woudn’t have to hunt for quince :-)

Nina Timm


I saw some quiches the other day….BTW Agape…that is the love that is prepared to lay down his/her love for another…I think your gran fitted that description well!



Delicious as always. I have no idea where to find quince here in my neighborhood. I will sure look harder, and if find one, I really want to try your delicious recipe.

Catherine Wilkinson


Agape, indeed…she passed her qualities along to her grandson, only you feed us all virtually!
I want to be in your family! I think an Irish gal can fit right in! Do you guys like fist fights?? And beer???



Looks like it came out beautifully. A nice way to remember your grandmother.

I don’t have a reliable source of quinces — I didn’t see them once at the farmer’s market this year, although last year I found them pretty frequently. But this sounds wonderful so I’m bookmarking it for next fall in hopes that I’m able to find quinces.



I have never had quinces before… starting to feel sheltered..
How wonderful that you are so close to your extended family. Not many people in the new world are.
Your meal looks simple, hearty and delicious. What more could you ask for?

Laurie Constantino


Peter, this is such a nice story about your family — and the recipe looks grand and worthy of the effort. I like the unusual technique.



Those recipes which are handed down through the generations are always the most enjoyable to eat as they evoke so many memories. I haven’t cooked with quince before and, in fact, have only had it as a jelly or chutney with cheese. I must discover it in its more natural form.

The Short (dis)Order Cook


Thanks for sharing those beautiful memories and this dish. It’s stunning. I have yet to try a quince. Another one for the “must try in ’09” list.

Stacey Snacks


Lovely story about your grandmother Agape.
I have never cooked with quince before. This dish looks so delicious to me.
I love quince paste w/ Spanish Manchego cheese, just FYI!



Quince pairs so good with pork. I would eat it every day. Your yiayia’s recipe sounds delicious. I just posted a quince recipe as well.



I love your story about yiaya! I absolute adore quince but it is so darn expensive right now! Beautiful pictures as always.



Very sweet and warm post! I am also trying to capture my mom’s and in law’s recipes. I treasure them very much as every time when I cook them myself, it will remind me of them especially I am not with them all the time.

I hope I get a chance to try quince one day.



A lovely post and a delicious looking dish – but your yiayia’s name makes me laugh (I grew up watching a comedy sketch show featuring Con the Fruiterer, whose daughters were Roula, Toula, Soula, Voula, Foula and Agape).



Peter, did you know that there are several Christian outreach ministries that share your grandmother’s name? Quince is hard to come by here – especially at this time of year – but you’ve convinced me to search them out. This recipe sounds wonderful.



I have to make this soon! I’m blessed with a Greek father-in-law who is generous with his quince tree and I stored a few pounds this year (after I made my yearly jelly). Thanks for the recipe!



I love quince with pork. This is a recipe I might try – and that’s a lot coming from someone who generally refuses to use them! ;)

Mediterranean kiwi


a very nostalgic post – it’s interesting that we once referred to these dishes as mama’s home cooked food, but now we call them yiayia’s specialties – i’m always mindful of what my children will be cooking in their homes…



aw peter–hooray for fond memories, and hooray for pig. i’ve never knowingly eaten quince, so i’m not sure what it’s like, but i have a sneaking suspicion that i’d enjoy it. especially with pig. :)



Beautiful! In memories and meat/fruit combo! I go “home” religiously every year for the same reasons you go to Greece…and I love every minute.



I just discovered your site from a comment you left over at Karen Cooks. I’m dazzled by the photos and stories and recipes. Can’t wait to explore your archives.



If the dish transports me to Greece… I’ll sure try!!! What a nice name: Agape ♥
The word Agape in Spanish means a fastuous phraternal meal!!!! Is it a coincidence?



Oh Peter, I just love the name Agape. Carrying it just a bit beyond your translation, I was taught that it means “love without limits” or “unconditional love”. Isn’t that just beautiful?! This is a wonderful recipe, and what a great tribute to a real lady. YUM!

We Are Never Full


what a great post. i love that woman! she sounds like my great grandmother. this dish totally caught my eye as soon as it popped up. i love how simple it is. it IS totally old school b/c of it’s simplicity and how cheap it is to make.



Peter, this may be my favorite of all your posts, and all your recipes. I am now in search of quinces. And I love the fact that your grandma was named Agape. I can feel the love simmering in this dish.



And here I am sitting on a half case of quince, wondering what the hell to do with it besides pie.

Can’t wait to try this!

Susan from Food Blogga


You would think in SoCal that quince would be easy to find. But they’re not. And I love the savory application of them here, Peter. Plus it’s always a pleasure to read about your family’s culinary traditions.

Wandering Chopsticks


I really enjoyed your story about your yiayia. I was pronouncing it in my head each time I came across the word and it brought a smile. I wish quince were easier to find in SoCal.

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