This is one of those recipes that makes you raise an eyebrow. Not consciously, it will just happen. We love pork chops with apple sauce. Apple cider braised ribs etc. So it stands to reason that this should work. But still…
The first time I came across this concept was when we were using the Buvette cookbook for the Instagram ‘Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club’. It has to be a few years now, that I’ve been making this with glee, because I was willing to try this unique recipe that first time. It is simple, and yet quite special.
We love spicy Italian sausage. We love apples. So, sure, why not love them together at the same time. This makes for a wonderful side dish on an Autumn or Winter table. The sweetness and the spiciness combine for a lovely foil to all the other rich items that may be on the table. There’s something festive, and yet so ‘everyday’ about this recipe. None of the ingredients are a challenge to find. Except of course the Lady Apples. They look like miniature MacIntosh Apples. And kinda taste like them as well. They are so cute and tiny! So they become perfect little bite sized bowls for the sausage. They all get stuffed and then braised/roasted in a white wine bath and are scented with sage.
Just this past weekend, I came across Lady Apples at our St Lawrence Market, in downtown Toronto. As soon as I saw them, I knew I would have to make this recipe, yet again.
Jody Williams, the brains behind the beautiful Buvette restaurant in the Village, in NYC, suggests using Gala Apples if Lady Apples are not available at your market. In which case, instead of scooping out the flesh to make one little bowl, you will slice the apples in half and then scoop, to create larger bowls. I have done this in the past, with great results. I have also used Forelle Pears (the smaller reddish French pears) with fabulous results. The pear flesh gets softer a touch quicker, so if you are using both in the same baking dish, you will have to watch that you are not overcooking the pears while waiting for the apples to become tender.
Along with butter and wine wine, Jody suggests using fresh sage leaves, scattered throughout and on the apples to give a lovely savoury scent to the dish. It really does make for a beautiful aroma in the kitchen. This past time I didn’t have sage in the fridge, but I did have fresh rosemary. It worked perfectly.
So, imagine this next to mashed potatoes, and thickly sliced pork roast. Or how incredible these would be mixed in with crisply roasted potatoes on a platter, with the oven reduced wine and sage liquid poured over them all?!! Or as a lovely appetizer before chicken thighs in a mustard sauce. I have even eaten leftover stuffed apples for breakfast with eggs the next morning. This is such an adorable, Autumnal side dish. And will make your guests’ eyebrows raise. And then they will smile.
SAUSAGE STUFFED ROASTED APPLES
An intriguing and yet cozy combination of flavours: savoury spicy sausage in a softened, roasted sweet apple. Works wonderfully! So Autumnal.
- 12 Lady Apples (or 4 Gala Apples)
- kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- 1 lb fresh , fatty, spicy Italian sausage removed from the casings
- 2 tbsp butter , cut into small pieces
- 8-10 fresh sage leaves (larger ones torn in half) or 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of white wine
Preheat the oven to 400F
If you are using Lady Apples, cut off the top and scoop out the core and seeds with a small spoon (I use a grapefruit spoon) Also remove enough flesh to have a good amount of room for filling. Just watch that you are not getting too close to the outside wall. The same procedure can be used for Forelle pears.
If you are using Gala apples, cut them in half crosswise and then scoop out the core and seeds from the centre of each. This will form 8 cups (1 whole per person)
Season the prepared apples with salt and pepper.
Evenly divide the sausage meat among all of them. Fill each one with enough sausage to make a small mound of meat. But do not pack too firmly- you want the sausage to cook without becoming tough.
Season the sausage with additional salt and pepper.
Nestle the apples in a baking dish that will hold them all snuggly in one layer.
Scatter the butter over and between the apples. Then tuck sage leaves in among them.
Pour enough wine into the dish (or skillet) to almost come to the top of the apples.
Roast in the oven until the apples can easily be pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. If using Forelle pears, this time will probably be reduced, so check after 45 minutes.
Use a gentle hand when stuffing the apples with the sausage meat. I found that the first time, I pushed a tad too hard to get enough meat in, only to have it cook down and become quite firm before the apple was cooked. This caused the finished product to have an extreme in textures.
Adapted from Buvette, The Pleasure of Good Food