Sunday, November 11, 2012

Baked Apples with Savory Pork Stuffing

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. The school year is flying by. Being a first year teacher has its moments to be sure, but most of the time I'm just laughing. Here are some sound bites from inside the hallowed walls of middle school:

5th grader #1: Ms. Cassidy, you look pretty today! You never wear eye makeup. Do you have a date?!
5th grader #2: Ms. Cassidy, are you dating an astronaut?
5th grader #3: Oh! Can he take us to space?

6th grader, after school: Ms. Cassidy, can I ask you a question? If you were dating a guy, would you like, get mad, and stop liking them, if they got in trouble with their parents for doing something stupid and got punished and couldn't go on their date with you? Oh, hold up. Is that Schrödinger on your wall? He invented the electron cloud, you know.

5th grader #1: Ms. Cassidy, I need help. This question doesn't make sense.
5th grader #2: Life doesn't make sense - get used to it!

Me: Sorry, class. I wrote down the wrong assignment on the board. Please erase and copy down this new homework assignment.
5th grader: Get it together, Ms. Cassidy! Did you eat your greens today?

5th grader #1: Ms. Cassidy, Ms. Cassidy! He just made fun of my ethnicity! (points to 5th grader #2)
Me: Explain to me what happened.
5th grader #1: I told him I'm Jamaican and he asked if I be bakin'!
5th grader #2: we're jammin' jammin' jammin' jammin'...

8th grader #1: Ms. Cassidy can I come after school for help today? What time will you be here until?
Me: I'll be here until about 7.
8th grader #2: Ms. Cassidy you need to get a life! You've got nice hair for a white lady - people will be your friend.

Priceless. As is this pumpkin a student gave me <3

Although my kids keep me smiling with their enthusiasm, creativity, and hilarity, I find myself falling into bad cooking habits this autumn, as personal time is eaten away by grading and lesson planning. I'm trying to be better about meal planning on the weekends and eating leftovers throughout the week.

This recipe for baked apples stuffed with pork and breadcrumbs in particular caught my eye because A) it's delicious, B) it's a potential Thanksgiving side dish, and C) it's perfect individual portions for a quick lunch or dinner with some salad (side note: D) I've been grading multiple choice physics tests).

The sweetness and acid from the apples combined with the savory and sumptuous pork, onion, and celery are a feast in one bite. The herbs are what give the stuffing its rich flavor, so make sure not to skimp on those particular ingredients. I can't wait for you to try this one. Enjoy.

Baked Apples with Savory Pork Stuffing
adapted from Canal House Cooking Vol. No. 2

yields 8 - 12 stuffed apples (depending on the apple size)


4 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1 pound ground pork
6 to 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
leaves from 2-3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
sea salt
freshly cracked pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
8 to 12 apples
fresh parsley for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Cook pork, breaking the meat up with the back of a spoon until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Sir in the herbs and generously season with salt and pepper.  Add the breadcrumbs and toss to combine.

Cut off the top fourth of each apple. Using a small spoon, scoop out the center, removing the core, seeds, and just enough of the flesh to make a nice hollow for the stuffing. Divide the stuffing evenly between the apples, packing it into each hollow. Transfer the stuffed apples to a large baking dish. Dot each apple with a small knob of the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Bake the apples until the flesh is tender and the stuffing is golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve each apple with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley.
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