Rosemary and Brown Butter Applesauce

I can’t write much today. My migraines continue to take their toll, and this past weekend we took a trip to Southern California to see our nephew, getting back on Monday and not catching up on nearly enough sleep yet. I should probably be sleeping right now, really. But I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t tell you about this recipe in time for your Thanksgiving shopping list.

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The recipe is for rosemary brown butter applesauce.  If the name alone doesn’t make you want to drop everything and head to your nearest orchard, let me say it again: Rosemary. Brown butter. Applesauce.

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If you’re still reading this, and not running out to purchase your apples, or maybe even wondering why I’d be putting rosemary in my applesauce, let me explain.  Brown-butter applesauce tastes similar to something you’d find in a delicious apple pie: sweet and buttery, with a background warmth and nuttiness from the browning and the cinnamon.  It kind of tastes like a warm blanket, with a cup of hot chocolate, on Christmas morning, if you were five years old and staring at the biggest pile of presents you’d ever seen.  Or rather, dang delicious.

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The thing is, though, that cinnamony-sweet brown butter in your applesauce can taste a little too apple pie if you’re not careful.  It would be fine for breakfast or a midday snack, but placing a bowl of apple pie filling on the Thanksgiving table just doesn’t work so well. This is where the rosemary comes in, taking the dessert level down a few notches by adding a woodsy, Christmas-tree aroma and savory side notes.  The perfect, wintry foil.  If I don’t speak with you before then, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Rosemary and Brown Butter Applesauce

adapted from Bon Appétit, Dec 2008

3 cups unsweetened apple juice
3 4-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
3 1/2 pounds (7 to 8 medium) Braeburn apples or other tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into chunks (or cut into eighths)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large pot, combine the apple juice, rosemary, and cinnamon.  Add in a big pinch of salt and put the heat on medium, to bring the juice to a boil.  Reduce the juice by half.  Mix in the apples.  Cover the pot, and cook for about 35 minutes, or until the apples are mushy.  Uncover and discard the rosemary and cinnamon.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat until it browns, stirring occasionally.  Mix butter into applesauce. (Can be made a few days ahead.)