Alright, alright, I know we are heading out of apple season, but I can t help but to share one more deliciously delectable recipe with you this time, a savory one. Baked stuffed apples act as the main attraction entrée without demanding too much fancy fuss, just simple assembly of some staple ingredients. Inspired by my love for hearty Italian sausage stuffed peppers, swimming in velvety marinara, I decided that the apple would make an equally yummy edible cup to stuff, and also provided the opportunity to lighten up the traditional dish and infuse some warm fall flavors.
You can use any lean ground meat that you like. I am a fan of ground pork and turkey which both cook up nicely here.
Baked Stuffed Apples
Ingredients: 8 large Gala or Braeburn apples olive oil (see recipe for quantities) 1 yellow onion, diced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 portabella mushroom caps, cleaned and diced 1 yellow summer squash, diced 1 lb. lean ground meat 1 c. brown rice, cooked (see step 2) 2 c. plus ½ c. chicken stock 1 c. shredded gouda cheese 1 tsp. dried oregano 1 tsp. dried thyme ½ tsp. ground clove ½ tsp. ground ginger sprinkle of cinnamon for garnish
1. Slice off the top and bottom of each apple. Reserve the apple tops to use as lids for garnish. Scoop out the core of each apple with a spoon. This might take you a few turns around each. Discard the seeds and hard core, but roughly chop the fleshy parts of the fruit and set aside.
2. To cook brown rice, sweat 1 clove minced garlic and half the diced onion with 1 Tbs. olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium low heat until translucent. Add the rice and coat in the mixture. Allow to lightly toast for a minute or two until aromatic. Add 2 cups of chicken stock, and give a stir. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 40-50 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
3. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sweat remaining garlic and onion until translucent. Add the mushrooms, and stir to coat in mixture. Allow to cook for about 10-12 minutes until slightly brown. Stir in squash, and cook for another minute or two. Deglaze the pan with 1 Tbs. of chicken stock or water, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Allow liquid to cook off, and remove from heat.
4. Heat 1 Tbs. of olive oil in another sauté pan. Add ground meat and allow to fully brown. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Transfer meat to another dish and set aside. Keep pan over medium heat, and deglaze with ½ c. chicken stock, making sure to get all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Reduce liquid by about 1/3 and set aside.
5. In a large bowl, combine rice, mushroom and squash mixture, browned meat, shredded gouda cheese, and chopped apple pieces. Season with ground clove, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well.
6. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of the stuffing into each apple, allowing stuffing to come over the top of each. Place in a baking pan, and pour in the reduced jus from the browned meat. Cover tightly with tinfoil, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the foil. Sprinkle each with another tablespoon of cheese, and broil on high for 2-3 minutes until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Top with the reserved apple lids and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon before serving.
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