I’ve been in California for over a week helping my mom recuperate from knee surgery. This trip has been not been like my usual jaunts to California filled with friends and frequent trips to my favorite haunts. No, this trip has been all about my mom. (And bread, the bread must go on!)
I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of cooking, trying to make whatever appeals to my mom. There has been meatloaf. Two kinds of soup– chicken noodle one night, potato-leek just last night. And then there was this applesauce. I know what you might be thinking, is she really going to give us a recipe for something so base? Well, I am, but this applesauce was so simple, so delicious, it had me knocking my forehead, exclaiming why had I not thought of this before?
My mom was ensconced in pillows, her knee elevated, watching the Barefoot Contessa, when she remarked “That looks good.” I came into the room and briefly watched Ms. Garten work her magic with a pile of apples, peeled, cored, and cut into fourths. She tossed them with zest, cinnamon, and sugar, put them in a lidded Dutch oven, and popped them in the oven. In a little over an hour, the apples were tender, she took a whisk to the whole mess, and the apples broke down into sauce.
The next day I made a batch of applesauce, same method, different ingredients.
We had a bunch of apples lying around, and some had seen a better day. What could be better than to give them a new life in the form of sauce? The original recipe called for quite a bit of ground cinnamon. I’m not such a cinnamon fiend, so I jut used a few cinnamon sticks to scent rather than to season the applesauce.
My applesauce was finished in just under an hour of baking. Many of the apple chunks had completely fallen apart into sauce, and the rest I simply stirred into chunks– no whisk needed. The house smelled wonderful while the sauce was baking. The sauce was delectable– aromatic, slightly sweet, intensely appley. Baking the sauce was so easy, no scorched pot, you just pop it in the oven, and that’s it. I’ve definitely found my new standby.
Dutch Oven Applesauce
inspired by Ina Garten
6 apples, mixed variety, baking and eating, peeled, cored, and quartered
1 orange, zest and juice
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the apples and the rest of the ingredients in a lidded Dutch oven. It is not necessary to mix well. Cover, and bake for approximately 1 hour.
Apples should be very tender, and falling apart. If they are too firm, cover the pot again, and continue cooking for 15-30 minutes. Stir the apples well either with a whisk, or a spoon. Empty sauce into a dish, and enjoy either warm, or room temperature.