Sometimes deciding what to make for dinner is somewhat of a backwards task. I never seem to say, "lets have chicken" and then figure out what to make with it. No, instead it's more like, "I feel like gravy" or "sauteed mushrooms would be nice" and then build a meal from there. This happened the other day while staring at my overabundance of apples which, unlike my disappearing banana problem, seem to magically multiply like rabbits by some unexplained (but seriously true) phenomenon. I am certainly not complaining; I love apples and eat them almost daily - I just have no idea why that bowl never gets empty. Anyway, as I picked through the bowl of apples looking for a prime choice to snack on, I was struck by an incredible craving for applesauce.
Because applesauce is so embarrassingly easy to make, I am actually baffled as to why anyone (including myself) bothers to buy it in cans or in jars. Aside from easy, and even better, is the ability to tweak it specifically to your exact taste or accompanying meal by using different varieties of apples and experimenting with a countless combination of spices, juices and/or additional fruits. Most recently I chose wine because, as with the apples, I am blessed with an ever-flowing supply.
First, pour a nice large glass of dry red wine. This is (mostly) for you to enjoy, though some is for the apples, so don't drink it all in one place. Skipping this step is not optional; if you don't have wine that is good enough to drink, this applesauce isn't for you. So go ahead and pour; I'll wait.
Good. Now that you have your glass (cheers!), select four large apples. I'm not picky about type, but I do prefer firm, crisp apples rather than soft, mealy ones. Peel, quarter and core the apples, then slice each quarter in to a medium saucepan. Add about 1/3 cup (80 mL) of your wine to the apples. It will seem like the wine disappears (actually, I meant the wine in the pot of apples, not your glass - but by all means, top yourself up. I'll wait). Anyway, don't worry about the seeming lack of liquid; it is more than enough to make a good saucy sauce.
Sweetness is something you will need to determine for yourself depending on the variety of apples used and what level of sweet/tart you desire. For average's sake I will say add one level soup spoon of sugar (about 1 Tbsp); I use less (just a sprinkle of turbinado) and you may want more or maybe even none. My advice is to aim for the lesser side of sweet - you can always increase it later.
|precooked drunken applesauce|
Add a bay leaf to the pot, then cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. As the apples begin to soften, mash them a bit with your spoon. After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and the bay leaf; simmer and stir to reduce the liquid to desired consistency. Add a small spoonful of salted butter (about 1 tsp) and stir until melted - trust me, it's worth it. Your applesauce will be chunky (that's how I like it) but can easily be processed until smooth with a hand blender or potato masher.
|after twenty minutes|
Drunken Applesauce is delicious both hot and cold. If you are like me and have planned a meal around the sauce, be sure to sneak a little bit out of the pot for later so you can try it both ways. Better yet, double or triple the amounts of everything - just please don't forget that you've got this on the burner (or blame me for tomorrow's headache) if you also double or triple the amounts of nice large glasses of dry red wine for yourself. Cheers!
|oven crisp pork chops | drunken applesauce | green peas | garlic roasted potatoes|