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Pairing flavors for fall: apples and rosemary

Sep 17th, 2010 | Category: Cooking

by Charles and Christina Claassen

We know all of the usual ways to use apples in the fall: applesauce, apple pies, stewed apples, apple butter, apple cider. While these ubiquitous recipes have their places in using up the season’s bounty, apples are even more versatile than that. Using the unexpected, rosemary, to compliment the flavors of apples—whether tart, tangy, or sweet—offers home cooks a chance to showcase two abundant Northwest staples.
Rosemary grows prolifically in the Pacific Northwest.There are dozens of varieties that have unique flavor variations. From the upright, sweet ‘Tuscan Blue’ to the widely available ‘Santa Barbara,’ gardeners can choose various types of plants. Some rosemary plants will become large bushes, with thick tree-like trunks. Others can be used as hedges, and some can be formed into topiaries. Regardless of how they are used in the garden, all are quite flavorful.
Cooking with rosemary can draw out the flavor of meats and vegetables. For more pungency, using the herb fresh is best, but dried rosemary will suffice if it’s ground. Rosemary compliments lamb and pork well. It also accentuates the sweetness of roasted root vegetables, such as beets and potatoes. Used fresh in salads, it adds a hint of evergreen perfume to mixed greens. It also tastes delicious baked into biscuits and shortbread, infused into lemonade and apple jelly. Aside from its culinary benefits, rosemary has various medicinal properties and is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Despite being a rather dismal fruit setting year, we can always count on having plenty of apples. They are a part of our regional identity, like salmon and rain. Of the hundreds of cultivars, commercial and heirloom, apples break down into two general groups: those for eating, and those for cooking. Eating varieties, like Gala, Akane, and Honeycrisp, are naturally sweeter, crisp but not hard, and leave a juicy sparkle on the tongue. They usually need to be eaten quickly, as they don’t store well.  Cooking apples, like Gravensteins, Pink Pearls, and Jonathons need a little companionship to work their magic. They tend to keep a little longer in the pantry, a wrinkled little reminder of last year’s sunshine. Of course there are plenty of apples that don’t fit neatly into these categories, fulfilling both purposes at once. There are many orchards and u-picks out there to explore, so it’s best to talk to the grower to find out which types they recommend.
What about apples and rosemary together? Sometimes there are foods that just create alchemical reactions, like tomatoes and basil, or strawberries and balsamic vinegar. The redolence of just-picked rosemary paired with the sweet-and-sour white flesh of a just-cut apple creates the sublime. Although rosemary is a plant that plugs along every month of the year, ever green and ever growing, it has an autumnal feel.
Yes, apples and rosemary can seem like blasé foods after a summer of colorful produce, but they really define the season. Just like those dusted off cider presses and big fall turkeys ordered eight months ago, apples and rosemary are worth waiting for. Pair them together, and suddenly these old favorites get a new, flavorful twist.

Rosemary-Apple Baked Salmon Filet
Ingredients
• 1 filet of salmon, about 2 lb, pinbones removed
• 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
• 1 Tbsp coarse sea salt
• 1 Tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
• 4 apples, firm and sweet variety (like Gala or Honeycrisp)
• 4 sprigs rosemary

Directions
Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare a baking dish or sheet pan by rubbing it with a teaspoon of oil.  Lay out the filet, and rub with 2 tablespoons of oil.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Peel the apples and slice thinly, layering the apples neatly along the top of the filet.  Top with rosemary leaves and roast in the oven 8 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked but still moist and slightly translucent.

Rosemary Mulled Cider
Ingredients
• 1 gallon freshly pressed cider, unfiltered
• 2 ounces fresh rosemary
• 2 Tbsp whole coriander seeds

Directions
Add the rosemary and coriander to cider in a stock pot.  Over medium-low heat, slowly bring the cider up to 165 degrees and keep it there for 15 minutes.  Add a bit of apple brandy for an adult variation.

Bacon Apple Fingerling Hash with Rosemary and White Cheddar
Ingredients
• ½ lb bacon
• 3 firm, tart apples (like Idared or Empire)
• ½ lb fingerling potatoes
• 1 small sweet onion
• 2 large sprigs rosemary
• 3 oz. aged white cheddar, shredded

Directions

Heat a cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame.  Chop the bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.  Drain any excess grease.  Dice the onion; peel, core and chop the apples, then add apples and onions to the pan.  Remove the leaves from the stem of the rosemary and add to the pan.  Slice the fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise then chop into 1 inch pieces.  Add potatoes and continue to cook until the potatoes are tender.  Top with shredded cheese, cover the pan, and cook 3 minutes longer.  Enjoy with friends, black coffee, and toast.

Charles Claassen has been a professional chef for almost 20 years and focuses on using local, organic, and wild-harvested edibles in his cooking. Christina is a freelance writer who enjoys trying Charles’ cooking. Together they run Sprout Catering in Bellingham.

One Comment to “Pairing flavors for fall: apples and rosemary”

  1. [...] I’d recently seen an article in Grow Northwest Magazine, though, which suggested using rosemary with apples. Since I planned to minimize sweetening, I decided to give this more savory herb a [...]

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