Fall is perfect time for cooking with apples

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Last week I got several e-mails about my baked apple recipe. I was surprised at the number of people who had never had a baked apple before. Apples are definitely an under used fruit. They are fat-free and around 90 calories for a medium-sized one and are a source of dietary fiber.

Red Delicious are one of the most common types of apples, but are not the best choice for cooking. My favorites are Jonagold, Rome, Granny Smith or Fuji.

The Jonagold, a cross between a Jonathan and Golden Delicious is my all time favorite apple.

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When it comes to cooking apples most people think of only using them in dessert dishes. And while they are naturally sweet, using them in a savory dish can be a welcome change.

If you want to pair apples up with a meat, you can’t make a better choice than pork.

Even though we now have apples and pork year round there was a time when apples were typically harvested in the fall and pigs were slaughtered in the fall, thus making for a natural pairing.

In this first recipe if you are not a fan of dried fruit you can leave the raisins and apricots out.

Pork Chops and Apples

6 (4 to 6 ounce) boneless pork chops

Nonstick cooking spray

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh or dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 medium size apple, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices or chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

2 teaspoon olive oil

3/4 cup apple cider

Coat both sides of the pork chops with the salt, pepper and rosemary. Spray a large skillet with the non-stick spray and over medium high heat cook the chops on both sides until browned and done to your taste. Cover with foil and set aside. To that same pan add the olive oil and cook the apples, raisins and apricots over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add about 1/4 cup of the cider, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom until most of the liquid is evaporated. Then add the remaining cider and cook for 15 minutes or just until the mixture is thickened. Serve over the pork chops.

And of course if you can only think about serving apples in a dessert this is one you will love. This recipe is from the Pinckney Café in Charleston and is it is delicious.

Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon Hard Sauce

1/2 cup butter melted

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup bourbon

3 cups milk

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 eggs

1 long loaf of French or Italian bread, at least a day old, cut into slices 3/4 inch thick

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put 3 tablespoons of the butter into a large skillet and over medium-high heat sauté the apples and raisins for about 5 minutes until the apples begin to change color. Add the bourbon and carefully, set aflame, and cook for another minute or two.

Bring the milk to a bare simmer and remove from the heat. Heat in a large bowl, mix 1 cup of the sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg, thoroughly whisk in the eggs, followed by the scalded milk.

Cover the bottom of a 2-quart dish with a third of the bread, followed by half of the apples. Repeat and finish with the final third of the bread. Pour about half of the egg and milk mixture over the bread, wait a minute or two while it is absorbed and then pour on the rest. Push down any bread that bobs up and let it absorb the milk. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar over the surface and then a little cinnamon. Drizzle the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter over the sugar. Place the dish in a large pan filled with hot water and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, a sugar crust should have formed on the top of the pudding and the internal temperature should be between 160 and 180 degrees.

Remove the pudding from the oven and allow to settle for at least 10 minutes. Scoop out the bread pudding with a large serving spoon so that each serving includes some of the crisp sugar topping and some of the soft part at the bottom.

Bourbon Hard Sauce

1 stick of butter cut into 1 inch pieces

1 pound powdered sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup bourbon

Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Then add in the egg and mix well. Slowly add in the bream and then the bourbon. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to spoon over the warm bread pudding.

Recipe courtesy of the Pinckney Café in Charleston

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for The Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.