Aimee’s Pretty Palate: How Bout Them Apples
Over the summer, I participated in The Peach Truck’s “peach tour.” The Peach Truck partners with regional farmers to deliver perfectly ripened fruit off their trees and to your door—within hours, they say. Facebook effectively targeted me and as I saw the ad for peaches for what felt like the zillionth time, I decided to sign up and join other peach lovers as the enormous fruit-filled 18-wheeler made its way through Baton Rouge. The peaches were as described: unblemished, beautiful, well-packaged and decidedly delicious.
Naturally, when the email came that the same folks who brought me peaches could deliver tree-ripened apples grown in Washington to my doorstep, I once again, figured why not? My dozen hand-picked apples won’t arrive for a few more weeks (at the time of writing this article) but I decided to go ahead and gather some recipes with apples as the hero ingredient to get myself prepared.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter makes the most of apple season. It requires almost zero effort, and you’ll find yourself slathering it on everything from toast to pancakes. It’s even great swirled into your favorite bread recipes. I used it for stuffing cinnamon rolls, and my life has been forever changed.
Pork Chops & Apples come together for another dish that notably tastes like fall. Apples added to pork dishes are a match made in heaven for a couple of reasons besides just being tasty. The acidity of apples helps the digestion of fatty meat while also helping cut the saltiness from the pork. Sweeter varieties that hold their shape while cooking or baking like Golden Delicious, Gala or Honeycrisp are recommended.
Wash things down with some Apple Pie Cocktails. While fresh apples aren’t used in this recipe—unless you’re making your apple cider from scratch, that is—it is perfect for holiday entertaining. And for those fall days that don’t feel very fall-like, turn the cocktail into an Apple Pie à la Mode as you wish the cooler temperatures into existence and sip apple-flavored ice cream.
It’s fall, y’all.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
3 to 4 lbs. apples (about 8 medium-size apples)
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. ground cloves
Core and cut apples into 1-in. cubes. Add apples to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours, until apples are very soft.
After apples have cooked, uncover slow cooker and use an immersion blender to purée mixture until smooth. (If you do not have an immersion blender, allow the apples to cool slightly and pour the softened apples into a blender to purée until smooth. You may need to work in small batches depending on the size of your blender.)
Spoon mixture into sealed containers to store in refrigerator for 1 week or in freezer for up to 1 year.
Pork Chops & Apple Skillet
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 (4-oz.) bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. Creole mustard (or Dijon mustard)
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
½ tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Trim pork chops of excess fat, and season both sides of chops with salt and pepper.
Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pan or large skillet, and heat over medium-high heat. Add pork chops to pan, leaving at least an inch between chops to ensure even cooking and browning. Sear for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until pork chops are mostly done and a golden sear has formed. (They will continue cooking in the sauce later.) Remove chops to a plate.
In a small bowl, whisk together chicken broth and Creole mustard; set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to pan, then apples and onions. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with rosemary and thyme as well as additional salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Pour in broth mixture and use a wooden spoon to scrape bottom of pan to release any brown bits. Add pork chops back to pan, nestling them in among apples.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until pork chops are finished cooking and liquid has reduced by half.
Makes 2-3 servings.
Apple Pie Cocktails
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 oz. vanilla vodka
1 ½ oz. cinnamon whiskey (like Fireball)
8 oz. apple cider
1 oz. half-and-half
Sliced apples and cinnamon sticks for garnish (optional)
Vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle (optional)
Combine sugar and cinnamon; place on a shallow plate. Rim 2 small glasses with water and dip into cinnamon sugar, twisting to coat rims.
Fill glasses with ice.
In a cocktail shaker, add vodka, whiskey, apple cider and half-and-half. Cover and shake for 30 seconds. Divide shaker contents equally between the 2 glasses. Garnish with sliced apples and a cinnamon stick, if desired. Serve immediately.
To make it an à la mode, skip the half-and-half in the cocktail and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle just before serving.
Makes 2 servings.
Aimee Broussard is a Southern food blogger and award-winning cookbook author. Seen on QVC, Rachael Ray and more, she is a self-proclaimed accidental entrepreneur with a penchant for porches and sweet hospitality. Find her online at aimeebroussard.com.