Genius Recipes

Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (and Savory Apple Charlottes)

By • November 4, 2011 • 21 Comments

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Every week, Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: Judy Rodgers gets us the applesauce fast, and nobody gets hurt. She even throws in a bonus dessert.

Roasted Applesauce

- Kristen

No cinnamon, no cloves -- this sauce is straight up apple, mainlined to your belly.

It comes from Judy Rodgers' must-own Zuni Café Cookbook and -- as with everything she serves at the San Francisco institution -- she keeps it smart and simple, balancing the apples only as needed with tiny amounts of salt, sugar and apple cider vinegar.

How do you decide how much to add? Taste a piece of apple. If it's "tart enough to make you squint, add the full measure of sugar," says Rodgers. If not, add a splash of vinegar. You're in charge!

There's just a little bit of butter too, sliced into wafers that melt into bronzed apple tops and a rich sauce (now do you see why we like this recipe so much?).

Judy Rodgers  Zuni Cafe Cookbook

Also, you get to turn the oven up to 500 degrees. That's practically like stoking a real fire. I don't know about you, but any recipe that sets the knob that high makes me feel dangerous and wild.

But that blast of heat is just there to hustle the apples along on their roast and singe their exposed faces and tips (after they've softened under a tight foil cover first -- see the whole process in a slideshow on the recipe page here).

Not only does this quick 1-2 oven attack free you from stewing and stewing apples on the stovetop, but it does that magic that roasting always does. All the sugars concentrate, enhancing the thing to the best version of itself. Plus it warms up the kitchen.

apples

Rodgers doesn't stop there, with the recipe that will buoy us through apple season (not to brag, but I've been getting 5 pounds a week in my CSA -- nobody's making that much pie). She also gives us an optional classy-looking (and sounding) dessert that is simple enough your children could assemble it with scissors.

It is called a charlotte and Judy Rodgers didn't invent it -- apparently someone who liked Queen Charlotte of England did, circa 1800. Lots of variations exist -- some involving lady fingers, or gelatin, or other layered frilly things -- but this is charlotte at her most primal: applesauce inside of toast.

You just cut some pieces of stale bread to fit in a ramekin (I used clean kitchen shears and a pre-sliced boule and had a great time). It might seem like you'd need to plan for structural integrity, but you don't. You can wing it, and the pieces will patch together and compress as needed.

Then you brush the bread cut-outs with melted butter, use them to floor and wall your ramekin, fill the cavity with applesauce, and pop on its jolly round lid. It bakes up beautifully crisp and toasty, and little rivulets of applesauce seep out and turn into specks of apple candy on the edges.

apple charlotte

It's caramel apple, buttered toast, and apple pie (without the part where you have to make pie). And -- can you believe it? -- it's actually kind of healthy, as pie-like desserts go.

As an aside, when Kristy Mucci (our fair Associate Editor and a Zuni disciple) tipped me off to this recipe, at first I thought she'd said to roast the apples with onions, then mash and sharpen them with cider vinegar, which I still don't think is a bad idea. That's for this week's truckload of apples, and it will go with pork.

(Spoiler alert: don't make too many charlottes this weekend -- you're going to need some of that applesauce for another Genius Recipe coming soon!)

Roasted Applesauce

Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce (with optional Savory Apple Charlotte)

Adapted slightly from The Zuni Café Cookbook (W. W. Norton & Company, 2002)

Serves 4; Makes about 3 cups, with sauce to spare

For the Roasted Applesauce:

3 1/2 to 4 pounds apples (Rodgers uses crisp eating apples, like Sierra Beauties, Braeburns, Pippins, Golden Delicious or Galas)
Pinch of salt
Up to 2 teaspoons sugar, as needed
About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
A splash of apple cider vinegar, as needed

For the Savory Apple Charlottes:

A chunk of day-old, chewy, peasant-style bread
About 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
About 1 1/3 cups Roasted Applesauce

See a slideshow and the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Want more genius? Try Paula Wolfert's Herb Jam with Olives and Lemon

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom


Jump to Comments (21)

Comments (21)

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Miglore

about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Chez Suzanne, I usually use a jumble of whatever I get in my CSA but for the photo shoot it was all Macintosh -- they weren't as chunky and crisp as Rodgers recommends but they melted into an amazing sauce.

Pamelalee

about 3 years ago pamelalee

Tonight I made this with a combination of Fuji, Honeycrisp, and Granny Smith apples. At first I wasn't sure I had the nerve to turn the oven all the way up to 500 degrees. (450 is as high as I've ventured before). But I went for it, and the sauce turned out rich and delicious.

Me

about 3 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

I'm making this for sure, and particularly like the idea of doing this with onions. I love sweet and savory together. Quick question for you (and anyone else who want to chime in) - what's your favorite apples for this?

Cindy_laughing_at_rog's_ceo_dinner_2

about 3 years ago saltandserenity

Roasted Applesauce... Why didn't i think of that? Genius! I'm thinking that this would be great with latkes for Chanukah next month!

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about 3 years ago lacerise

I normally make my applesauce by cutting and coring the apples and putting them in a pot w/a lid until they steam into deliciousness. They're fragrant, sweet and tart, and very fresh tasting. I made Judy Rodgers' recipe this weekend and enjoyed it well enough while it was warm, but, once it chilled in the fridge, i found it flat and kind of grainy and greasy from the butter. There was a richness I don't want in applesauce. Not my favorite Judy Rodgers' recipe.

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about 3 years ago lacerise

I normally make my applesauce by cutting and coring the apples and putting them in a pot w/a lid until they steam into deliciousness. They're fragrant, sweet and tart, and very fresh tasting. I made Judy Rodgers' recipe this weekend and enjoyed it well enough while it was warm, but, once it chilled in the fridge, i found it flat and kind of grainy and greasy from the butter. There was a richness I don't want in applesauce. Not my favorite Judy Rodgers' recipe.

Mlt_yogateau_1

about 3 years ago mtrelaun

Those plates might be ones designed by Virginia Sin, virginiasin.com.

Mlt_yogateau_1

about 3 years ago mtrelaun

The plates may be the ones designed by Virginia Sin, virginiasin.com.

Anita_date

about 3 years ago Anitalectric

Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.

Wow, this is the lead in to next week's recipe?! Can't wait.

Miglore

about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Hi spuntino -- I'll ask Amanda where she got that plate when she gets back from her book tour (I'm thinking either ABC Home http://www.abchome.com/ or a potter she knows).

But can you also let me know what happened when you posted this comment (which is appearing in duplicate, several times over)? We've been having some trouble lately with commenting -- sorry about that. Did you get an error page? Or did the page freeze? Or did the comment just not seem to appear? Thank you!

Photo_9

about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find those plates??

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about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find those plates??

Photo_9

about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find those plates??

Photo_9

about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find the plates in the 4th photo?

Photo_9

about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find those plates??

Photo_9

about 3 years ago spuntino

where can i find those plates??

Sara_clevering

about 3 years ago sarabclever

I love the fact that you listed this as a genius recipe--I just tried it this fall and love it, it's amazing. (I was so excited I wrote a blog post on it, even though I figured that there are already plenty blog posts out there on applesauce--this one deserves all the publicity it can get, as you say it's genius!) I love Judy Rodger's cookbook in general--so well written, such amazing recipes.

Dsc00426

about 3 years ago vvvanessa

i am all over this recipe. i fell for sierra beauties last year when the honeycrips weren't as great as usual; i think i'll use a mix of the two though i have a general rule about only eating honeycrisps raw and unadulterated. and the charlottes! i'm going to have some very happy dessert eaters in the house this weekend.

Miglore

about 3 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

That sounds like something I would do, for sure. Bet those onions were pretty good though!

Sausage2

about 3 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

This looks great Kristin! I've been loving roasting apples lately. (And, as my own aside as a corollary to your misunderstanding and thinking the recipe called for apples and onions, I was trying to explain to my mother how to make quick preserved lemons the other day so she could make the braised Moroccan chicken with olives and preserved lemons. I accidentally misspoke and told her to chop up an onion and toss is with a little sugar and lots of salt. And rather than thinking, "hm, that's funny, why would she tell me to chop up an onion and no lemons to make preserved lemon?" my mom just did it and used salted onion in the recipe. Apparently it still turned out great, but she had an epiphany the next day and called to ask if I had actually meant lemon. Yes, yes I had.)