October 28, 2008

pork and fennel stuffed apples

Lately I feel like we're stuck in the intermezzo of Monty Python's "Holy Grail", the season flip-flopping willy-nilly, confusing our bodies and wardrobes. (thankfully, I have not yet been forced to eat Robin's minstrels) Last week we plunged into winter, bright nippy days that had to be faced with long coats and scarves. Today it is decidedly, gloomily fall. Big fat raindrops are being blown through on an icy wind. Weather that drives even the hardiest New Yorkers indoors. It is time for comfort food.

Lately I have been craving something sweet and savoury, like Sunday morning sausage sopping up the last of the maple syrup. Something juicy on my tongue. A mix of unexpected flavors to spice up a cold evening awaiting the Trainer's arrival. A meal to take me home.

Last Sunday I joined S and her husband for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to take a gander at the DUMBO Farmer's Market. A small affair with a guy who sells fantastic, organic, SCD 'legal' roasted nuts and nut butters. The apple seller's table was piled high with red, gold and green offerings, juicy slices teasing my tongue. I picked out some fantastic Gala apples and another type I have never tried before. I'm embarrassed to admit I've forget it's name: Sugarcrisp perhaps. This large golden green gem was just to beautiful to eat with disregard, it needed special attention.

Our apple tree at home offered up copious amounts of small, sweet heirloom apples, perfect for baking and apple sauce, not quite up to our antiseptic culture's idea of an eating apple. Whatever these little guys lack in polished appearance they make up for in flavor. Every fall we picked them from the tree, gathered the windfall and retired to the kitchen to 'process'. The largest apples were always saved for baking, cored and stuffed with oatmeal, cinnamon and clove while the smaller ones were turned into apple sauce.

All winter long Mom always served her pork tenderloin with our homegrown applesauce, to great critical acclaim. Not having the means to make such lovely sauce I stewed and chewed on this combination of pork and apples. Looking at my beautiful local apple I knew what to do with it. Instead of cooking the pork tenderloin with fruit in the middle, I would cook the apple with the pork in the middle.

Since I was cooking this for one, I made the pork stuffing, stuffed my lone apple, and cooked the rest of the pork in a separate dish. This combination would make a great stuffing for chicken or turkey as well.

Pork and Fennel Stuffed Apples

for three stuffed apple:
9 oz pork tenderloin, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
1/4 cup diced yellow onion
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large sweet apples

Prepare the stuffing by mixing the pork, fennel, onion, garlic and salt to taste. Allow to sit at room temperature while preparing the apples

Preheat oven to 425 F

Wash the apples and cut the top third off. Scoop the flesh of the apple out of both top and bottom, using a small paring knife or grapefruit spoon. Leave about 1/4 inch of flesh with the skin. Coat the inside of the apples with ground cinnamon and cloves.

Arrange the apples in ramekins or in a small baking pan. Fill the apples with the pork stuffing, packing well, pile the stuffing so that it fills the top of the apple as well. Mix the apple flesh with any remaining pork stuffing and fill an additional ramekin.

Bake for 45 minutes.


jacobithegreat said...

honeycrisp, maybe?

Vittoria said...

That sounds right. And a perfect description of the fruit, too. Thanks :)

Paragon~Of~Virtue said...

That's very clever!
I have so many stuffed things I want to try.

Gluten free Kay said...

I have three HUGE bags of Black Twig apples from my neighbor's tree. They remind me a lot of Jonathan apples, but aren't quite as tart.

I could stuff the smallest ones with your pork stuffing for a Thanksgiving appetizer! They'd be so cute!

Luckily, my garden fennel has survived the frosts. I haven't harvested yet because I use the green fennel seeds to season my pork sausage for pizza topping. I want more of the blossoms to ripen to at least the green stage of seed. Still waiting for Indian Summer here . . .

Vittoria said...

They would make fantastic Thanksgiving appetizers! The sauce you see on top is pomegranate molasses (my next post) and it was a perfect compliment. As always, I am incredibly jealous of your garden.