Breakfast this morning included Fried Apples cooked in a cast iron pan. The thought still makes me swoon. Simple, honest, seasonal food cooked in an implement as basic, reliable and vintage as cast iron makes me so happy I could just about cry. It’s all about goodness. And the goodness this morning was overwhelming.
Cast iron has been with us since before antiquity. It’s been proven to be a right smart idea. Cast iron cooking pots were originally made in China in about 513 B.C. making them older than Jesus. It’s safe to say the idea of cast iron has caught on. Since it’s been around a few thousand years, the term trendy can’t be applied. The manufacturing process has been commercialized and the implements are mass produced now, but the basic method of making cast iron is essentially the same now as it was when they started making the first cast iron pots in China: molten iron is poured into a mold. The downside to owning one of the first pieces of cast iron to be produced as a cooking implement is that is wasn’t properly seasoned. It takes years to get enough seasoning (oil) to coat the cast iron so it doesn’t stick. This surely caused a lot of stress for cooks until about 500 B.C. They had 13 rough years of wondering if this cast iron stuff was going to work out. We should all be grateful for the persistence of those primitive cooks. Can you imagine the joy the first time the rice didn’t stick? Hallelujah!
The heritage of apples parallels that of cast iron. We know apples are older than Jesus, too. You might recall the story of the famous dust-up that happened in the Garden of Eden involving an apple which was prior to Jesus’ birth. Brought to our country by the Pilgrims, they are now grown throughout the world in temperate regions. Apples were a good food source for the early settlers because they stored well and could be used in many different forms.
There’s something comforting about the permanency of apples and cast iron. In our disposable, throw-away world, we sometimes need to be reminded of the importance of dependability and stability. There are things which preceded us and they will remain long after we are gone just like cast iron and apples. And goodness.
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Granny Smith is my preferred variety for Fried Apples. The trick to making good Fried Apples is choosing a firm apple variety that will hold its texture long enough for the sauce to thicken. At the end of the cooking time, you want the apples to be tender but toothsome. That means you don’t want them to have the crispness of a raw apple but yet they shouldn’t cook down to the consistency of applesauce. I have nothing against homemade applesauce. In fact, I love it. But, we’re going for Fried Apples here. We’ll do applesauce in another post.
I’ve tried other apple varieties and haven’t found one yet that turns out as well as Granny Smith. In most apple dishes, I like to use at least two different varieties. Fried Apples is the exception.
6 – 8 tart cooking apples, cored and sliced (I used Granny Smith)
1 stick butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of grated nutmeg
Melt butter. Prepare apples.
Add apples to melted butter and stir to coat. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and stir.
Sprinkle brown sugar, salt and cinnamon over top of apples. No need to stir right now.
Cover tightly, and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, stir gently ONCE and cook for 10 minutes or until apples are tender and sauce has thickened. Don’t stir the daylights out of them or they will fall apart. Serve with a dash of fresh grated nutmeg and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon. They are wonderful as a side dish or an oatmeal topping. Or, just eat them right out of the skillet.
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