In a world of two-pepper risottos and three-cheese pizzas, why not five-apple applesauce?
Why not, indeed.
Bringing so many different varieties into one sauce adds great depth of flavor and texture. So a few summers ago, in the wake of roasting just about every other form of produce, I decided to do likewise with a batch of apples, instead of the usual stove-top simmer.
I included a healthy dollop of butter and sprinkling of brown sugar to really encourage some caramelizing action. After an hour in a hot oven, some of the apples had cooked into a soft puree, while others stood their ground, resulting in a chunky-creamy offering that I found to be equally comfortable atop a bowl of French vanilla ice cream or cozied up next to a grilled pork chop.
Roasting a lot of apples now while there are so many local varieties available, then freezing in 2-cup batches for down the road, could be your final brilliant preserving maneuver.
To be considered great for baking or cooking apple, an apple needs to retain both flavor and texture when heated. A few that fall into that category are Belle de Boskoop, Braeburn, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Fuji, Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Liberty, Melrose, Mutsu, Newtown Pippin (also known as Newton), Northern Spy, Red Rome, Spitzenberg and Winesap.
And while we’re talking about introducing a bit of heat to the season’s apple harvest, it’s appropriate to include a delicious pork recipe that does just that. This is a simple skillet meal that brings leeks, potatoes and apples together in a pan to create a unique (but delicious) side dish — a savory whole-grained bread-based dressing — to sauteed pork loin chops. I encourage you to give it a try.
Butter-roasted Five-Apple Apple Sauce
Makes about 2 cups.
¼ cup butter
5 to 6 apples, peeled, cored and diced to measure 7 to 8 cups (see note below)
¼ to 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Heaping ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in a 9-by 13-inch baking dish by placing it in the pre-heating oven. Remove from oven when the butter has melted. Place the prepared apples in the baking dish, and using two rubber spatulas stir and toss the apples in the butter to evenly coat each piece. Sprinkle the apples with the brown sugar and cinnamon and toss again to coat.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the apples are nicely golden and caramelized. The apples will release quite a bit of juice during cooking. Once the juices cook down, keep an eye on the apples and stir about every 10 minutes from this point on, so that they caramelize evenly and don’t scorch on the edges.
Remove from oven. May be served immediately. Refrigerate for several days or freeze for up to 6 months.
• As an accompaniment to grilled or roasted pork; consider roasting the apples with a tiny bit of sage and ½ cup of chopped onions; refrigerate for several days or freeze for up to 6 months.
• As an ice cream topper. This is especially wonderful straight from the oven, or thawed and microwaved until warm.
Note on apples: This relates to the “five-apple” part of this recipe’s title; for best flavor and interesting combination of textures, use at least two varieties, but I have used up to 5 in one preparation (McIntosh, Melrose, Jonathan, Fuji and Gravenstein) and it was wonderful. To cut the peeled and cored apples into a dice, halve and quarter each apple, then cut each quarter into six chunks.
Pork Chops with Apple, Rosemary and Leek Dressing
2 leeks (white and pale green portion only)
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 medium russet potato, grated, with skin
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
About 2 cups homemade or canned chicken broth
2 slices firm whole-grain bread, crumbled into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 loin pork chops
Split the leeks lengthwise, wash thoroughly, then chop. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil and saute the leeks until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the potato, rosemary and apple, cover the pan, and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth to moisten the mixture, and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes (you may need to add a bit more broth toward the end of the cooking process). Add the bread, salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and keep the dressing warm while you prepare the pork.
In a separate skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, making sure the oil is hot before you add the chops. Brown the pork chops for 6 to 8 minutes on each side, cooking to desired degree of doneness. (You can also grill the chops, browning both sides well and cooking to desired degree of doneness.) Serve each chop with a spoonful of the dressing.
— Recipe from "The Onion Book" by Jan Roberts-Dominguez
— Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.