Apple harvest dinner
Apples are the most versatile of fruits for cooks, as good in savory dishes as they are in desserts. Sometimes apples are the stars while in others they play an essential supporting role. In fact, it’s possible to plan an entire dinner around apples – a dinner of variations on the apple theme, in which each dish sounds a constant note, without ever becoming repetitive.
Following are apple recipes for a soup, entrée and dessert. Add a salad, perhaps a fresh or wilted spinach salad garnished with slices of raw apples or rounds of dried apples and you’ve got an entire apple harvest dinner. It’s the perfect way to celebrate autumn!
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Sage marinated roast pork
with braised apples, onions, and celery root and cider sauce
- For the marinade
- 2 c. buttermilk
- 1/2 c. thinly sliced or diced onion
- 6 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 T. kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
- 1/4 c. minced sage leaves
- kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 6 T. bacon fat or vegetable oil, plus additional if needed
- 4 c. cored apples, unpeeled, cut into inch thick slices
- 4 c. onions, sliced one inch thick
- 4 c. peeled celery root, cut into one-inch cubes
- 1/4 c. thinly sliced sage leaves
- 1/2 c. unpasteurized cider
- Sage sprigs for garnish, optional
One or two days before you plan to serve the pork, combine the marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Squish the bag with your hands to combine the ingredients and dissolve the sugar. Place the meat in the bag, remove as much air as possible and seal. Refrigerate the meat, turning the bag occasionally. Remove the bag from the refrigerator 2-3 hours before cooking to allow the meat to come to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 T. of the bacon fat or oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the fat is hot but not smoking, add the onions and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a baking dish large enough to hold the pork roast. Add another tablespoon of bacon fat to the skillet and add the celery root cubes. Brown them lightly as with the onions and transfer them to the baking dish. Add another tablespoon of the bacon fat to the skillet and repeat with the apples. Stir the apples, onions and celery root to combine.
Pour off any fat remaining in the skillet. Return the skillet to the heat and add the sage leaves. Stir fry for about a minute, then pour in the cider and deglaze the skillet, scraping up any browned bits into the liquid, then pour over the apples, onions and celery root. Stir to combine, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, then place the baking dish in the oven for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees. Remove the pork from the marinade, pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle generously with pepper. Wipe the skillet clean, then heat the remaining 2 T. bacon fat in it over medium high heat. Brown the pork well on all sides and then transfer it to the baking dish. Set the skillet aside to make the cider sauce. Bake the pork until a meat thermometer inserted halfway into it registers 150°. Baking time will depend on the size and type of roast. If using pork chops, begin checking them after 45 minutes; begin checking roasts after 1 hour, 15 minutes.
While the pork is roasting, make the cider sauce. When the roast is done, remove from the oven. Let it rest for 20-30 minutes, then slice. Spread the vegetable/apple mixture onto a large platter, then top with the sliced pork. Drizzle with some of the cider sauce, and pass the rest separately at the table. Garnish with sprigs of sage leaves if desired. Serves 6.
- 1/2 c. minced shallots or onions, NOT super-sweet
- 1 T. bacon fat OR unsalted butter OR the fat and browned bits left in the skillet from sautéing the pork chops
- 1/2 c. applejack or Calvados
- 4 c. unsalted chicken stock
- 2 c. unpasteurized apple cider
- Salt, freshly ground pepper, and cider vinegar to taste
If using the skillet or pan in which the meat or poultry has cooked, pour off any excess fat so that only a thin film remains. Otherwise, melt the bacon fat or butter in a medium to large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and stir until softened. Pour in the applejack and increase the heat to high. Add the cider and chicken stock and boil until the mixture is reduced to a syrupy glaze, 15-20 minutes. Season to taste.
Variations on this sauce include whisking in 1/2 c. heavy cream and/or removing the finished sauce from the heat and whisking in 4 T. chilled butter cut into bits and whisked in a few at a time. You may also add 1-2 T. cracked black peppercorns.
Makes 1 – 1 1/2 c.
Butternut squash and apple bisque
- 1 large butternut squash
- 3-4 tart apples such as Jonathan or Granny Smith
- 6 c. chicken or vegetable stock, plus additional if needed
- 1 1/2 c. thinly sliced leeks (white part only) or onions
- 1 T. butter
- 1 c. heavy cream, plus additional to drizzle if desired
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
- Optional garnishes:
- Thinly sliced scallions
- Minced fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram
- Fried sage leaves
- Crisply fried crumbled bacon
- Crumbled blue cheese
- Diced fresh apple
Peel the squash and scoop out the seeds. Cut into one-inch chunks. You should have about 6 c. Butternut squash vary a lot in size, so if you have less, cut back proportionately on the other ingredients. Peel and core the apples and cut into chunks.
In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks or onions, stir to coat, and cover the pan. Sweat the leeks until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the squash and apples and pour in the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the squash and apples are completely cooked.
Purée the mixture with a hand-held blender, food processor, blender or food mill. Cool the mixture before using the blender or food processor – hot ingredients can “explode” in them. Return the mixture to the pan, whisk in the cream and season to taste with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve the soup with or without garnishes, as desired. Serves 6.
NOTE: This bisque lends itself well to several variations. Add a tablespoon of minced fresh ginger or ginger juice and/or a tablespoon of curry powder, or a tablespoon of chili powder. Substitute yoghurt for the cream (just make sure not to boil the soup after adding it). Sauté 2 T. minced sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, or winter savory with the leeks. It also freezes well.
Baked german apple pancake
- 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 T. sugar, preferably baker’s sugar
- 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2/3 c. half and half
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 T. unsalted butter
- 3-4 large apples (about 1¼ lb.) such as Granny Smith, Golden Blushing, Braeburn, seasonal Golden Delicious, or other sweet/tart varieties that hold their shape well when cooked
- 2 tsp. cider vinegar
- 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Have all ingredients for the batter at room temperature. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs, cream and vanilla, and whisk together until no lumps remain. Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a blender or food processor (put the liquid ingredients in first in this case). Set the batter aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. The batter may also be made the day before and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before baking.
Peel and core the apples and cut them into ½-inch slices. Toss the slices with the vinegar.
Heat the butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium high heat. Add the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon and cook until the apples are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking, but gently so as not to break up the apples.
Remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour a ring of batter around the edge of the pan and then pour the rest of the batter evenly over the apples
Place the skillet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 425 degrees. Bake the pancake until the edges are brown and the pancake has puffed up, about 18 minutes. Loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula, invert the pancake onto a large plate, cut into wedges, and serve, dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Serves 6.