Most often we associate “baked apples” with dessert. They are often cored and stuffed with dried fruits and nuts with, perhaps, a glaze of butter, sugar, and, to put on the dog, something like Calvados or grated citrus peel or a fruit liquor.
And now for something completely different: A baked apple simply presented and designed to accompany any pork main course: chops, a roast, braised tenderloins, stir-fry – what have you. And if you choose from among the best apples for baking, it can sit “roundly” aside the tender and succulent meat. Add a salad of mixed organic greens and crusty multi-grain rolls and you’ve got a dandy treat to set before family and friends.
4 large baking apples (see list below)
About 8 tablespoons bottled chutney (we like Major Grey’s)
About 2 teaspoons butter at room temperature
2/3 cup apple juice or cider or even hard cider
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
If baking in a conventional oven preheat it to 375F.
Rinse and dry the apples. Remove a thin slice from the bottom to allow the apple to sit upright. Using an apple corer or paring knife, core the apple making about a 1” opening being careful not to go through the bottom of the apple. Using a swivel peeler or parting knife, remove about a 1/2-inch strip around the top of the apple. With a sharp knife make four slashes, about 1/2 inch deep around the equator of each apple. These simple steps help release steam and keep the apple from collapsing.
Chop any larger pieces of the chutney and fill the cores of the apples. Place the apples in the pan, and then dot the top with the butter and smear the exposed apple flesh with a little more of the butter.
Mix the juice or cider with the lemon juice and pour this around, but not over, the apples.
Conventional Oven: Bake the apples from 45 to 60 minutes or until a fork easily pierce the side of an apple. Baste the apples once or twice during cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside for at least 10 minutes before serving. These may be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, when cooled. Reheat just to warm.
Microwave: Cover the pan with waxed paper and cook on high until the apples test done – 6 to 8 minutes depending on the size of the apples and the wattage of the oven. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. See above for making ahead.
World Kitchen cookware for this dish: CORELLE 2 1/2-qt Square Casserole, or a CORNINGWARE 9-inch baking dish, or a CORNINGWARE French White 8-inch Square Baking Dish.
Best apples for baking: Braeburn, Empire, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, or Rome – the Braeburn being our favorite. In a pinch Golden Delicious or even Granny Smiths will do, but they often split during cooking. No matter, the dish is a delicious contrast to the unctuous pork.
Set the Scene: Create a simple but effective look for your table scattering miniature pumpkins and short boughs of bittersweet on the table interspersed with golden tea lights set in PYREX custard cups.