My sister-in-law makes a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner every year, although she confessed this year that preparing these meals makes her terribly anxious. Which is amazing, because she is such a rock in my life, and such a wonderful cook (in fact, more or less wonderful at everything).
I rather enjoy conceptualizing, planning and making these big meals. I love to plan them and to execute them, for the full sensory onslaught-- taste, and smell, and sight. I got the idea to do a maple-themed meal from a recipe on that insomniac's savior, the show Cultivating Life. Their recipe for maple scones will be on the menu for Friday.
I have the luxury of spreading out the cooking over several days (plus I cheated and got a ham this year, which means no main dish worries), so I'll be making the meal in stages. Today I started with the things that will keep the best.
4-12 large Granny Smith apples
1T light brown sugar for each 2 apples
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
1 cup water
small handful to 1/2 c. dried cranberries (depending on how much applesauce you've made)
Peel and core the apples. Cut the apples into smallish chunks, conserve the peels and cores in a pot of cold water (or two pots if you're making a larger batch).
Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small saucepan, and simmer until the water is clear. This will prevent the sugar from burning in the apples. You can also just leave the sugar out entirely, although use a sweeter apple like a Gala, Mac, or Red Delicious if you don't use sugar. The Grannies are quite tart.
Put the sugar syrup, maple syrup and apples in a large pot or dutch oven and bring to a light simmer, stirring constantly. Continue simmer and stirring until the apples are a uniform chunky mush, then blend in the pot using a hand-held immersible blender (my best new toy of 2009).
Simmer the cranberries in a little bit of water just until they plump up, then mix them into the applesauce. Serve warm, cold, or room temp. Delicious no matter what.
a TorXani original!
Apple cores and peels
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup maple sugar (or, since it's hideously expensive, 1 cup granulated sugar)
2 cups water, plus water for the apples
Put the conserved apple cores and peels in enough water to completely cover them, and simmer until the skins are soft (about 20 minutes). Since I used 12 apples for the applesauce, I ended up with two 2-quart pots of water and peels.
Combine the sugar, maple syrup, and 2 cups water and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Run the apples and their water through the food mill, scraping the pulp into a separate bowl (it's applesauce) and discarded the pips, skins and cores. You should now have an apply juice; pour this into the maple syrup mixture.
Boil the whole thing down to 2 1/2 or 3 cups (3 cups makes a thinner syrup). Strain it through a fine seive and cheesecloth. You can use this as an ice cream or waffle syrup, or add it to club soda for homemade apple soda.
I used the strained pulp as a glaze for a pan-fried catfish. Very nice.
By the way, these recipes are not for the faint of heart:
1 day ago