If your children are as prolific apple pickers as ours, you are probably faced with a bag of apple so large it doesn't fit in the fridge (the best way to store apples, by the way). The answer to this overabundance of apples is apple sauce, but not the kind you think. The words "apple sauce" usually conjure up images or baby food and school lunches. It's so mild and bland that American pediatricians recommend giving to a kid who is recovering from a stomach bug. I always found this strange. Any old world doctor would recommend chicken stock, but I am guessing American doctors don't expect you to have real chicken stock on hand, but they have faith in you opening a jar of apple sauce. You can of course make this kind of apple sauce from scratch instead of opening a jar of Mott's, but why bother.
Luckily, an extraordinary apple sauce does not take much more effort. Brown your apples in the oven for 20 minutes before simmering them, and you'll be rewarded with a deep caramel specked sauce that's thick enough to stand a spoon in, and tasty enough to make 20 Lb of apples disappear in one week. You'll think of apple orchards and tart Tatin, not baby food.
I make this sauce with Cortland apples, but any soft flesh tart apples will work.
Roasted Apple Sauce
3 Lb Cortland apples (or Rhode Island Greening, McIntosh, Gravenstein)
4 tsp olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450F and set a rack at the bottom of the oven.
Peel and core the apples. Cut eat apple pole to pole into 6 pieces and spread on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. For 3 Lb, you'll need a half sheet (13x18 inches). Drizzle with olive oil and rub the apples all over so that they are coated with a thin film of oil.
Place on the bottom rack of the oven. If you have a convection fan, turn the heat down to 400F and turn on the fan. If not, keep the heat at 450F. Roast the apples until golden brown, 15-20 minutes, checking after 10 minutes and rotating the baking sheet at that point. Without convection, the tops might not brown, but don't worry about that. As long as there are some brown surfaces, you'll get lots of good flavor.
Move the apples to a heavy saucepan (I use a dutch oven). Cover and cook on the stove top on low until apples bubble up and fall apart, about 20 minutes.
Stir thoroughly, scraping any caramelized bits that stuck to the bottom of the pot and distributing them through the sauce. Serve hot, warm, or cold. Will keep in the fridge for a week.
Tips on large batches:
Roast the first batch of apples while peeling, coring, and slicing the next 3 Lb batch. When the first batch is roasted, move it to a big pot while roasting the next batch. When all the batches are roasted, cook them together in the pot.
This apple sauce is robust enough to stand up to a pork shop or duck. But it's also great turned into a parfait. To do that, warm up the apple sauce and alternate it in a glass with vanilla ice-cream. Top with crumbled ginger snaps, or granola.