It’s apple season – here’s five recipes to make the most of the autumn fruit

If you’ve been picking apples recently, here’s how to use them. By Emily Weinstein

Wednesday 03 November 2021 17:10
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<p>This pasta hits all the right notes: sweet, salty and savoury </p>

This pasta hits all the right notes: sweet, salty and savoury

I went apple picking last weekend. Is it me, or does recreational apple picking just continue to surge year over year as an autumn activity? Some people are not into it, which I get, and yes, cynically speaking, it’s an excellent flannel-clad Instagram moment. But I’ve done it for years, and, for my small kids who live nowhere near a farm, it’s a very clear moment of connection: fruit comes from trees!

There is one problem, though, which is that I somehow thought bringing home a half-bushel of apples was reasonable. It was not. So far I have baked one pie and dispensed apples to everyone in my home every day, and we have barely made a dent in the pyramid of fruit that now stands in my kitchen. Maybe you’re in this situation, too.

And so I’ve got a few ideas below for how to use them up at dinner. You could also make applesauce, apple butter or apple jelly. You could put them in muffins, crumbles and cakes. You could layer them in sandwiches. You could roast them with sausages or toss them into kale salad. You could serve them with sourdough pancakes or a Dutch baby.

Baking tray chicken with apple, fennel and onion

Roast chicken with classic autumn ingredients for a quick, flavourful one-pot supper

Chicken thighs are roasted with classic autumn ingredients for a quick, flavourful baking tray supper. The toasted fennel seeds subtly amplify the anise flavour of the roasted fennel and play nicely with the apples and onions. Look for an apple on the tart side as it will naturally sweeten as it cooks in the oven. If you want to use bone-in chicken breasts you can, just make sure to cut the cooking time by a few minutes so they don’t dry out. Serve with a bright, bitter green salad flecked with blue cheese and toasted walnuts.

By: Colu Henry

Serves: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tsp fennel seeds

1-1.5kg bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 medium fennel bulb, tough outer leaves removed, cored and thinly sliced

1 tart apple, such as Mutsu (Crispin) or Granny Smith, halved, cored and cut into 8 wedges

4 sprigs rosemary

Flaky salt, for serving

Method:

1. Heat oven to 220C. In a small frying pan, toast the fennel seeds over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pound into a coarse powder with a mortar and pestle or, alternatively, roughly chop. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and the fennel seeds and season well with salt and pepper.

2. Place the onion, fennel and apple slices on the sheet pan. Toss with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt. Spread in an even layer. Add the chicken skin side up on top of the vegetables and lay the rosemary (distributing evenly) on top of the chicken. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the onions, fennel and apples are softened and have begun to caramelise at the edge of the pan.

3. Turn on the grill and move the oven rack to sit right below it. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs and broil the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes until the skin of the chicken is crispy and golden. Season with flaky salt.

Miso-butter pasta with butternut squash

Miso and butter are a true love match

A true love match, miso and butter create a simple yet deeply flavourful pasta that hits all the right notes: sweet, salty and savoury. Smashed garlic cloves roast with the squash to gently flavour it, then become silky-soft treasures you’ll discover while eating. Finishing the dish with lime cuts through the richness of the butter, but you can use lemon, too. Try using other vegetables like aubergine, pumpkin or carrots to make this dish your own.

By: Yasmin Fahr

Serves: 4 servings

Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tsp white miso

3 to 5 large garlic cloves, smashed

1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes (see tip)

1 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed

Salt and black pepper

450g mezze rigatoni or other short pasta

40g grated parmesan, plus more for serving

1 lime, zested and juiced (2 tsp zest, 2 tbsp juice)

¼ tsp red-pepper flakes (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 220C. On a baking tray, mash together the butter and miso. Add the garlic and squash, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and toss to coat with the miso-butter mixture. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt and season with pepper. Cook until easily pierced with a fork and the raw taste is gone, 25 to 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle boil, and cook until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the noodles. If done before the squash, drizzle with olive oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Leave in the sink to drain.

3. When the squash is done, return the pasta to the pot over low heat. Scrape in squash, garlic and any liquid that accumulated, then add the parmesan and half a cup pasta water, stirring well until the noodles have a light sheen to them. If it appears dry, add more pasta water a tablespoon at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Stir in the lime zest and juice, season to taste with salt, and top with pepper and red-pepper flakes, if using. Serve with extra cheese.

Tips: Peeling and cutting the squash is the hardest and most time-consuming part of this recipe, so you can make it easier by using pre-cut squash or by softening the skin before cooking. To do so, trim the ends, prick the skin all over with a fork and microwave for 3 to 3.5 minutes. This softens the skin and flesh – without cooking it too much – to make it easier to cut. Hold the squash with a kitchen towel, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin, and continue to cut from there.

Pork chops with apples and cider

Apples and pork is a culinary combination that cannot be improved upon

There are some culinary combinations that cannot be improved upon, and apples and pork is surely one of them. This recipe calls for pan-frying boneless pork chops and serving them with butter-browned apples and a Normandy-style sauce made with cider and cream. It makes for a perfect cold weather meal.

By: David Tanis

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: About 1 hour

Ingredients:

For the spiced salt:

¼ tsp black peppercorns

3 cloves

4 allspice berries

2 tbsp roughly chopped sage

1 and ½ tbsp salt

For the pork and sauce:

6 boneless pork chops, 115g each, about 1.5cm thick

2 large apples

2 tbsp butter

All-purpose flour, for dusting

115ml hard cider, plus 2 tbsp

2 tsp Dijon mustard

350ml chicken broth

2 tsp potato starch dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water

3 tbsp creme fraiche

1 tbsp Calvados, apple brandy or cognac, optional

2 tbsp finely cut chives

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method:

1. Make the spice salt: put peppercorns, cloves, allspice and sage in a spice mill or mortar and grind to a powder. Remove to a bowl and stir in salt. Season pork chops on both sides with salt mixture (there will be some salt mixture remaining; use it to season the sauce, step 4). Cover and leave chops at room temperature to absorb seasonings for at least 30 minutes.

2. Peel, quarter and core apples, then cut each apple into 12 wedges. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide frying pan and raise heat to medium-high. Add apple wedges in one layer and brown gently on one side, about 2 minutes. Brown on the other side and cook for 2 minutes more, or until apples are cooked through but still firm. Remove apples from pan and keep warm.

3. Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan and swirl to melt. Dust pork chops with flour, and place in pan and brown gently for about 4 minutes per side. Adjust heat if necessary to keep pork from cooking too quickly. Remove chops and keep warm on a platter in a low oven. Discard remaining butter.

4. Add ½ cup cider to pan, raise heat to high and cook down to a syrup. Add mustard and chicken broth, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add potato starch and stir with a wire whisk as the sauce thickens. Stir in creme fraiche. Season to taste with remaining spiced salt. Add 2 tablespoons cider and the Calvados, if using. Cook for 1 minute more.

5. Spoon sauce over the chops, then spoon the apples around the platter. Sprinkle with chives and parsley.

Black bean chilli with mushrooms

This hearty weeknight chilli has a kick of heat

Mushrooms and black beans are the perfect pairing for a hearty weeknight chilli with a kick of heat from a fresh jalapeno. Seared minced mushrooms add a depth of flavour that balances an easy homemade chilli spice mix of mild chilli, warm cinnamon and smoky chipotle. If you’d like, you can substitute 350ml of the broth for 350ml of Mexican lager.

By: Jocelyn Ramirez

Makes: 4 servings

Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

450g cremini or portobello mushrooms, or both, minced (see tip)

80ml neutral oil, such as grapeseed

Salt and black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 red bell peppers, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp ground mild chilli

¾ tsp chipotle powder

½ tsp ground cumin

tsp ground cinnamon, preferably Ceylon

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes

2 (425g) tins black beans, rinsed and drained

850ml vegetable broth or water

1 tbsp raw or turbinado sugar

30g dried porcini mushrooms, torn into bite-size pieces (optional)

Sour cream (plant-based if you’d like) and torn coriander leaves, for serving

Method:

1. Spread the minced mushrooms on a clean dish towel or paper towel and squeeze out excess liquid. Heat the oil in a medium pot over high. Add the mushrooms with a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring every minute or so, until the mushrooms sear to a darker colour and any remaining water in the mushrooms has cooked off, about 5 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and browns slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, jalapeno and garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to brown. Add the chilli powder, chipotle powder, cumin and cinnamon and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and mix.

3. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the tinned chopped tomato and its juices, beans, broth, sugar and porcini mushrooms, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with the lid ajar and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to meld. Divide among bowls and serve with sour cream and coriander.

Tip: To quickly mince mushrooms, pulse them in a food processor.

Mixed apples pie

Using a variety of apples in this pie gives it far more flavour

This is essentially a classic double-crusted apple pie, packed tight with fruit, but it calls for a wide variety of apples, giving it far more flavour. For the most nuanced filling, use as many different types as possible: a mix of sweet, tart, crunchy and tender apples will yield complex tastes and textures. The sharp acidity of lime juice heightens the tanginess of your blend, half of which should be firm apples to keep the filling from collapsing. To ensure success with the crust, keep the ingredients cold, popping them into the freezer if needed, and work quickly with a gentle touch. A generous layer of spiced cookie crumbs prevents the bottom crust from getting soggy and lends even more warmth.

By: Genevieve Ko

Makes: One 9in pie

Total time: 2. hours, plus chilling and cooling

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 tbsp sugar

300g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough

¾ tsp fine sea salt

225g cold unsalted butter (2 sticks), preferably high-fat European-style, cut into 1.5cm cubes

40g spiced cookie crumbs, crushed from crunchy varieties such as Biscoff or gingersnaps

For the filling:

130g sugar

45g cornstarch

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp fine sea salt

1.5kg apples (about 8), a mix of tart, sweet, crunchy and soft varieties such as Granny Smith, Gala, Opal and Jazz, peeled and cored

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 0.5cm cubes

Method:

1. Make the crust: whisk sugar and 80ml water in a small bowl until sugar dissolves, then place in the freezer. In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt, then toss the butter cubes until evenly coated. Using your fingertips, quickly flatten and rub the butter into the flour, while tossing the smushed pieces to coat until the mixture is mostly thick, powdery flakes and pebbles.

2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the chilled water all at once. Using your fingers, rake the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until mixed. Continue stirring with your fingers, occasionally squeezing the blend gently, until large, shaggy clumps form.

3. Press the clumps together and into the remaining dry bits to gather into a single mass. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a 2.5cm-thick disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

4. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll out a dough disk into a 30cm round. Fit into a standard 22cm pie plate, gently tucking and pressing the dough against the bottom and sides without stretching it. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs in an even layer across the bottom and gently press into the dough. Transfer to the refrigerator. Roll out the other disk into a 30cm round, slide onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

5. Make the filling: place a rimmed baking tray on the lowest oven rack and heat oven to 220C. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in a large bowl. Cut each apple into 8 wedges, then cut each piece into 0.5cm-thick slices crosswise. Add to the bowl and pour the lime juice over, then toss until evenly coated.

6. Scrape half the apples into the chilled bottom crust and press down firmly to eliminate any gaps. Top with the remaining apples, pressing firmly into a mound. Scatter the chilled butter bits evenly on top.

7. Flip the other dough round over the apples to cover and peel off the parchment. Using scissors, trim the edges together 1.5cm past the plate’s rim. Fold and tuck the edges under so that they’re flush with the rim and crimp, decoratively if you’d like. Using a sharp paring knife, cut 8 (7.5cm-long) slits in the centre of the top dough, spacing evenly. Think of these slits as a guide for cutting the baked pie into wedges.

8. Place the pie on the heated baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 160C and bake until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling, 55 to 60 minutes longer. A thin paring knife should slide through the apples easily. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

© The New York Times

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