Sunday, 8 October 2017

Baked Apples stuffed with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Shallot

Most people don't often think of using a fruit as a side dish served alongside roasted meat, but I love to use apples or pears in this way. I often quarter the apples, drizzle them with olive oil, honey and cumin and roast them....sticky, sweet and delicious! Perfect with pork or game...

Last night I went a different route with some of the apples I's the start of apple season here and I have gone slightly overboard buying fresh apples! Time to use some of them, as well as the last of the goat cheese.

This is a take on the sweet baked apples we ate for dessert when we were younger. These were filled with raisins, sugar and cinnamon and baked. I took this idea, combined it with the applesauce traditionally served with roast pork, and came up with these savoury, but still sweet, baked apples.

The apples soften and turn into a sweet applesauce inside the skin, filled with soft, tart goat cheese and caramelized onion. A perfect accompaniment to the pistachio crusted pork tenderloin I made (see the post Pistachio Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Sweet and Sour Applesauce ).

In a bit of olive oil, cook until softened and caramelized:

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

When the shallots are done, remove from the heat and stir in:

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Set aside to cool.

Cut the bottoms of 2 firm, equal sized apples so that they sit flat in the baking dish.

Without cutting through the bottom of the apples, remove the core, creating a pocket to stuff.

By this time the shallots should be cool enough to continue making the filling. Heat the oven to 350F and have an ovenproof baking dish ready.

In a small bowl, combine:

the cooled shallots
1/4 cup soft goat cheese
1 teaspoon honey

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Stuff the apple cavities with the filling, mounding it up slightly.

Place the apples into the baking dish.

Bake until the top of the filling is golden and crisp, and the apples are soft when pressed on the sides. The sides might start to split a little as well.

If the top of the filling starts to get too dark, loosely cover the apples with a piece of foil.

My apples took about 1 hour to bake.

To serve lift the apples carefully out of the baking dish, and serve alongside your roast meat, in my case, pork. To eat, scoop the filling and apple out of the skin and you have a sweet and savoury applesauce!

  •  To make the cavity in the apple the easiest way is to cut a circle in the top of the apple and then use a small spoon or melon baller to remove the core. You can also use an apple corer, but you are more likely to go right through the bottom of the apple. If this happens, cut a small piece of the core off and use it as a plug. You can also wrap the apple in foil to catch any leaks that may happen during baking.
  • Pears can be used in the same way. Use a melon baller to scoop the core out from the bottom of the pear, creating a cavity. Use a small piece of the core to create a plug for the filling, and wrap the pear in foil to prevent any leaks.
  • The filling was too much for my 2 apples, but spread on sourdough bread, along with some slices of leftover pork, it make a very tasty grilled sandwhich for lunch today!
  • The filling can be altered in so many ways...onions instead of shallots; cream cheese, Cambozola, Brie or Boursin instead of goat cheese; rosemary or sage instead of thyme; add in nuts or dried fruit if you wish.
  • Wrap the apples in prosciutto or bacon, securing with a toothpick, before baking.
  • If you are a pastry fan, wrap the apples in phyllo or puff pastry and chill well before baking. Bake for the first 10 minutes at 400F, then turn the heat down and bake until the pastry is crisp, golden and the apple is soft. Cover with foil if the pastry or filling is becoming too dark.
  • Add some apple juice, apple cider or white wine to the bottom of the baking dish halfway through baking. This will be a great addition to your gravy, as well as adding extra moisture to the apples.
  • Fruits are always a good choice to serve alongside pork, venison or duck.

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