We are deep in apple season with the new crop of fruit in all the markets, an array from deep red to pale yellow. Apples can be incorporated into just about any part of the meal from appetizer to dessert, used as a sweet or a savory, making them a good item to have on hand. They can be chopped into salads, cooked down into sauces, sautéed with meats for main dishes, stuffed with either a sweet or savory stuffing, and of course, made into pies and tarts. Here are a few of my favorite apple recipes, most of which, in some version, have appeared in my cookbooks.
Tarte Tatin of Quince and Apples
Tarte Tatin, an upside down apple tart, can also be made with quince. In this version, I used both. The addition of currants or raisins adds extra interest and flavor, as does marinating the fruit in a mixture of wine and sugar.
4 large or 6 small yellow quince
4 Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apples
2 cups dry red wine such as Merlot or Syrah
1 cup sugar
1 piece vanilla bean (about 2 inches long)
1 cup currants or golden raisins
2 tablespoons butter
Prepared pie pastry for 9-10 inch pie, purchased or home-made
Peel and core the quince and apples and cut them into slices about 3/8 inch thick. Place them in a bowl with the wine, ½ cup of the sugar and the vanilla bean. Cover and let stand at least 8 hours, and preferably overnight, before using.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare a 9- or 10-inch pie dish that is 2 to 2 ½ inches deep by heavily buttering the bottom with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the remaining sugar evenly over the bottom.
With a slotted spoon, remove one-third the quince and apple slices from the wine marinade. Arrange these quince slices in a concentric circle in a single layer on the bottom of the dish. Add one-third of the currant or raisins and one-third of the remaining sugar. Repeat the process twice. Cut the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter into small bits and dot them over the top.
Roll out the pastry dough to a circle 1 /2 to 2 inches larger than the baking dish. Drape the pastry over the fruit, allowing it to droop over the edges. Tuck the crust down around the fruit, then back over the rim of the dish. Trim if necessary, then pinch slightly to make a decorative edge. Prick the top with the tines of a fork. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the tarte is done a thick syrup will have formed in the bottom of the dish, and the crust will be a deep golden brown.
Remove the tarte and let it cool about 5 minutes. Run a knife along the edge to loosen any bits of stuck dough or fruit. Invert a serving platter on top of the baking dish and, holding the platter and baking dish firmly, flip them. Should any pieces stick to the pan, gently remove them and place them back on the tarte. Serve warm.
Serves 6 to 8
Guinea Hen with Sautéed Quince, Apples, and Pears
Fall and early winter are my favorite times to cook guinea hen because of the trio of fruits that come into season then – pears, apples, and quince. If you’ve never eaten guinea hen, try seeking it out and cooking it. It is more flavorful than chicken or pheasant, and although it is lean, it isn’t dry. You may need to special order it from a butcher. Any leftovers can be warmed to top a frisée salad, plus the carcass makes a superb broth. To accompany the roast and fruit, I like to serve polenta or couscous.
1—1 1/2 to 2 pound Guinea hen, preferably with heart and liver or substitute 2 game hens
Handful of fresh sage, about 6 sprigs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, crushed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup water
For the fruit
2 tablespoons butter
½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 quinces, peeled, cored and cut into ½ -inch thick slices
2 apples such as Golden Delicious, Gala or Granny Smith, unpeeled, cored and cut into ½ thick slices
2 firm, but ripe pears, such as Bosc or Red Bartlett unpeeled, cored and cut into ½ inch thick slices
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.
If your bird comes whole, head and feet intact, chop these off with a heavy knife or cleaver and refrigerate them to use to make stock the next day.
Rinse and pat the bird dry, then rub it all over with sage, inside and out. Leave the sage in the cavity, along with the heart and liver. Rub it inside and out with the salt and pepper, including rubbing some under the skin. With kitchen twine, truss the legs together.
In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat. When it is hot, add the bird and brown it first on one side, 4 to 5 minutes, then on the other, another 4 to 5 minutes. With the bird breast side up, add the water, cover and roast in the oven, basting once or twice with the pan juices until the juice runs clear when pierced at the deepest point behind the thigh, about 1 hour. When the bird is ready, transfer it to a carving board. Cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes.
For the fruit
About 10 minutes before the bird comes out of the oven, prepare the fruit.
In a large frying pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. When it foams, add the onion and quinces and sauté, turning the fruit slice once or twice, until they are seared and just barely soft, about 8 minutes. Add the apples, pears and the salt. Cooking, turning until just tender, about 4 minutes. Cover to keep warm.
Remove the foil from the guinea hen, carve the breast into slices, and cut off the wings and the legs with thighs attached. Arrange the sliced breast on a warm platter, add the fruit slices (warming them beforehand if they have cooled too much), and add the wings and legs with the thighs. Pour any collected juices from the carving board back into the Dutch oven, heat over medium-high heat, and pour over the meats and fruits and serve immediately.
Serves 3 to 4 or 2 with leftovers
Boudin Noir and Apples
From “La Vie Rustic – cooking and living in the French style,” Weldon-Owen, 2017
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One of my very favorite dishes is boudin noir also known as black pudding sausage, sautéed until the edges are crisp, along with apples. It is classically served with apple compote or sautéed apples and mashed potatoes. Boudin noir is very popular in France, where I first had it, and easy to find there. For many years that was not the case in California. But now, thanks to Fatted Calf in Napa and San Francisco, and to a few other artisan butcher shops, boudin noir is available here. It’s best to check ahead, however, because it sells out quickly.
4 tablespoons butter
2 pounds Golden Delicious, Gala, or other firm fleshed apple, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into slices a scant 1 inch thick
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 boudin noir, about 2 pounds total
1 tablespoon Calvados (optional)
In a large sauté pan over medium-heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. When it foams, add the apples. Reduce the heat to low and cook, turning often, until the apples are golden brown and begin to caramelize but still hold their shape, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Prick the sausages several times with the tines of a fork. In a frying pan, over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. When it foams, add the sausages. Cook, turning often until crispy and brown on the outside and firm on the inside, 10 to 15 minutes.
Spread the hot apples on a platter, top them with the boudin noir, and if using, pour the Calvados over them. Ignite the Calvados with a match and let the flames subside. Serve immediately.
Baked Apples with Maple-Bourbon Filling
Firm, tart apples are best for baking because they hold their shape well. For a special occasion, serve these with maple-nut ice cream or whipped cream that has been lightly flavored with bourbon or vanilla.
4 large, firm, tart apples such as Granny Smith or McIntosh
½ half cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons butter, cut in 4 pieces
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Core the apples from the top, stopping about ½ inch from the bottom. Set aside. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, nuts, syrup, and bourbon and mix well. Spoon the mixture into each apple cavity. Dot with butter.
Put the filled apples in a deep baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour water into the dish to cover the bottom about ¼ inch deep. Cover with a lid or seal tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes, basting twice with the pan juices. Remove the cover, baste again with the juices and cook, basting once or twice more, another 10 minutes, or until the thickest part of the apple is tender and can easily be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
Transfer the apples to individual dessert plates or a serving platter and spoon the now-thickened pan juice over them. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Ragout of Pork, Chestnuts and Apples
The slightly sweet, starchy chestnuts, combined with the tart apples, brings a fully rounded flavor to the hearty stew. Serve it with braised greens such as spinach or escarole dressed only with a little lemon, salt and pepper
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups beef broth, purchased or home-made
Bouquet garnie made of 2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 sprigs of fresh parsley, tied together.
1 pound vacuum-packed unsweetened chestnuts
4 firm, tart apples such as Granny Smith or McIntosh, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
In a Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sauté, turning, until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork to a bowl, then pour off the accumulated juices and fat from the pan. Add the bacon to the pan and return it to medium heat. Cook for a minute or two, stirring, until the bacon releases some of its fat. Then add the onion and shallots and sauté until they are translucent, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour, salt, and pepper over them, and stir, cooking until the flour browns, 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to high, pour in the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any bits clinging to the bottom of the pan. Add the pork and its accumulated juices, the beef broth and bouquet garnie. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 hour.
Add the chestnuts, stir gently, re-cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add the apples, re-cover and cook until the apples are softened, but not dissolves, about 15 minutes longer. Taste, adjust for seasonings and serve hot.