Saturday, October 4, 2014

More Apples and More Apples!

There are apples in the box.  As there were last week, and as there will be for the next several weeks.  And it's a good thing.  Apples are a major crop for Virginia.

Okay,  but how many times in a row can one eat baked apples, or cobbler?  You start seeing the same syndrome as we had with zucchini in the summer.

So let's see what we can do to move apples from dessert to the main meal.  Here we go, savory dishes with apples!

Apples and pork is an incredibly classic combination that has stood the test of time.  Whether the apples are roasted, pan-seared, braised in a stew, or sautéed, the apples lend a sweetness that brings out the flavor of the pork.

Have you started thinking about Thanksgiving menus yet?  Stuffing has to be one of my favorite items on the holiday table.  Okay, all of the dishes are one of my favorites, who are we kidding?  The heavily-herbed, sage-loaded dish of yesteryear isn't the only option!  Apples and chestnuts in stuffing lighten and sweeten it.  This recipe is the stuffing I make almost every year.  This one includes bacon, whose saltiness balances out the sweet from the apples.  This recipe for acorn squash uses another apple and chestnut stuffing, but the rye bread lends a lot of character to it.  If you can find a sourdough rye, that's even better!

Other meats
Pork isn't the only meat to compliment apples.  This is a fantastic way to make Cornish hens.  Every Easter, I make ham in an apple-Riesling sauce.  Okay, yes, ham is pork.  Preparing it seems different enough in my book to warrant its own category.  Author's prerogative!

Photo via A Touch of Zest
Vegetarian Options
When I was growing up, potato pancakes were made from leftover mashed potatoes.  When I started making them from shredded potatoes, it went up to another level.  But latkes with sweet potatoes?  And apples?  Whoa!  Awesome!  I also recently stumbled across these multi-grain pancakes with shredded apple, which are amazing.

But let me share a family secret.  Braised red cabbage, or Rotkohl, is a staple of northern European cuisine.  It's one of those dishes that is fairly easy to prepare, but improves over decades of practice.  And here's our family recipe:

  • 1 small head red cabbage
  • 2-3 tart apples, peeled, cored & diced small
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup full-bodied red wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar or honey, plus more to taste
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Small spice bag, tea egg, or snippet cheesecloth
  • Salt to taste
  1. Put spices in tea egg or spice bag, or into a cheesecloth satchel.  Place in bottom of slow cooker.
  2. Loosen shredded cabbage and place in slow cooker.  Toss in apples and sugar or honey.  Add liquid ingredients and salt generously.
  3. Cook on low 8 hours or longer.  About 20 minutes before serving, taste and add vinegar, sweetener, or salt to taste.  Stir well and cook 20 minutes longer.  Strain before serving.

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