Here are two fall recipes for pork and apples from Bill St. John


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Nearly 8,000 varieties of apples grow in orchards around the world. Of the world’s six major stone fruits and tree fruits (excluding citrus fruits) – peach, apricot, plum, cherry, pear and apple – apples are by far the most widespread and prolific.

Yet in this country, cooks limit their apple purchases to roughly five types of apples: Gala, Red Delicious, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith, in order of popularity.

Additionally, we tend to only cook apples in sweet ways, such as desserts such as apple pie, apple crisps, or apple fritters, or we eat and drink them “soft”, such as applesauce. apples or apple cider.

A very unscientific study of clues in my cookbooks published in the United States and abroad shows that sweet preparations made from apples outnumber savory preparations by at least five times.

Nevertheless, from a historical point of view, savory preparations made from apples long predate – in fact, prefigure – sweet recipes. One of the oldest recipes in the Western canon, from Apicius (also known as “de re culinaria”, a collection of recipes dating back to the 400s) is for a stew of pork with “apples of Matian” . The title of the recipe is “minutal matianum”, using a varietal name of the apple grower, Matian, a friend of Julius Caesar. We could say “Granny Smith apple pig” if we wanted to invoke the breeder and the name of this apple, a “Mrs. Smith”, a grandmother from New South Wales, Australia, who started Granny Smiths around the world in 1868.

The ancient Romans and those who lived in Europe until the Middle Ages treated (additionally, referred to) the apple as a “vegetable”, cooking it with various meats, especially pork and game, or serving stewed apples and often spicy like its own dish, alongside cooked roots and greens.

Bill St. John, special for the Denver Post

Apples, left to right, top row first, least sweet to most sweet in sugar percentage: Envy, Autumn Glory, Lady Rose, Lady Glo, SugarBee, Smitten, SweeTango, Koru, Kiku, Lady Alice. Note the blush of red and pink in the flesh of Lady Rose and Lady Glo, respectively. (Bill St. John, Denver Post special)

Apples were a favorite stuffing for many meats, their native acidity serving as a foil to the richness and fatness of meats. You will find such recipes up to modern times in all kinds of cookbooks. In truth, one of the most common savory pork preparations is “pork chop with apples,” a recipe with countless twists and turns from countless cuisines, most of them North American.

I’ve got two apple pork recipes here, both from Spain, plus a third from James Beard that uses apples to crunch and sweeten a dish of braised red cabbage, yet another tasty apple concoction.

Roasted Pork Breast or Shoulder with Baked Apples

Adapted from “The Food of Spain”, Claudia Roden (HarperCollins, 2011). From the author: “With pork belly [or shoulder], the crunchy skin and the layers of fat keep the meat tender and succulent during cooking. You can cut the fat after cooking if you wish. For 6 to 8 people.

Ingredients

4 pounds pork belly or shoulder, excess fat removed, skin or rind still on

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 teaspoons sea or kosher salt

8 small whole apples (see note)

1 cup hard cider (or apple juice or cider)

directions

1. If using a pork shoulder, ask the butcher to butterfly it so it looks like a piece of brisket (or a big open book). Put the pork on a rack in a roasting pan (if you don’t have a rack, grease the pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil). Sprinkle one side of the pork with 2 teaspoons salt, rubbing it over any cuts or tears, especially if in the rind. Repeat with 2 more teaspoons on the other side. Let the salt “work” on the meat for 10 minutes.

2. Shake off any excess salt, wipe the crust or skin side with paper towels and rub 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides. Flip the pork rind side up.

3. For more flavor, you can also brown both sides of the meat in a large skillet before the next step. No additional oil needed; some of the outer fat will melt and help with browning.

4. Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the crust begins to puff up. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and cook for about 2 hours, until the crackling is crispy and brown. You can baste the meat and turn it 2-3 times during this step, if desired.

5. Meanwhile, place the apples in a baking dish that holds them all tightly together and pour the hard cider (or juice or cider) into the bottom. When you have lowered the heat of the oven, place the dish of apples on the rack under the roast and cook until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife. The time depends on the size and degree of ripeness of the apples. Start checking them after 40 minutes. Remove apples when cooked and set aside. Later, return the apples to the oven when the pork is almost done; heat them up.

6. Alternatively, about 10 minutes before the end of the pork in the oven, gently lift and place the apples in the roasting pan with the pork. The whole preparation, thus arranged, allows a pleasant presentation.

7. Let the pork rest for 15 minutes, covered with foil, before cutting or tearing it into thick slices or chunks.

8. Note: Roden suggests Golden Delicious apples “as a replacement for Reinetas,” apples from Asturias, the region of northern Spain where this recipe originated. For this preparation, other good varieties available in Colorado include the small Jonagold, Gala or McIntosh.

Braised red cabbage with apples and wine

Excerpt from “The New James Beard”, James Beard (Knopf, 1981). “A wonderfully aromatic and savory accompaniment to pork, duck or goose.” Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

2-3 pounds of red cabbage

3-4 tablespoons of bacon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup red wine (see note)

2 tart apples, unpeeled, cored and diced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon of vinegar

1/4 cup white or golden raisins (optional)

directions

Remove the wilted outer leaves of the cabbage as well as the core. Finely grate and soak for 20 to 30 minutes in cold salted water. Drain well.

Melt the bacon juice in a large skillet or sauté pan, add the cabbage and brown, stirring often, for several minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the wine. Simmer the cabbage for 5-6 minutes, then add the apples.

Sprinkle cabbage with brown sugar and vinegar, mix well, cover and simmer until cabbage and apples are tender, about 6-8 minutes. If using raisins, add them 10 minutes before serving.

Note: If you don’t use alcoholic beverages in your cooking, substitute the red wine with an equal measure of 100% tart red cherry juice.

Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce

Pork chops topped with apple slices.  (Bill St. John, Denver Post special)
Pork chops topped with apple slices. (Bill St. John, Denver Post special)

From “The Foods and Wines of Spain”, Penelope Casas (Knopf, 2009). From the author: “Hard cider, produced in Asturias (northern Spain), is used in many recipes in the region. Accompanied by apples, it is particularly complementary to this pork dish. For 4 people.

Ingredients

4 loin chops, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick

Salt

Flour for sprinkling

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons of butter

1/2 pound apples, peeled, cored and sliced ​​about 1/2 inch thick

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup hard cider (or apple juice or cider)

Freshly ground pepper

directions

Season chops with salt, then sprinkle with flour. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Lightly brown the chops on both sides. Remove to a hot dish. Add the apple slices to the skillet and sauté in the remaining oil, turning once, for 1 minute.

In a casserole dish or an oven-proof cake tin, place half of the apple slices, the chops on top, then the remaining apples. In the skillet, add the broth, cider, salt and pepper. Boil for 3 minutes, then pour the liquid over the chops in the casserole. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until chops are cooked through and tender.

Serve with boiled new potatoes, a green salad and very dry hard cider, if available. Otherwise, a light red wine is appropriate.

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