Sweeeet. It’s the Fall again. Frankly speaking, I get more excited about this time of year than a two-year-old venturing into FAO Shwarz for the very first time. Let’s be honest. What’s not to love about a season that combines sweater weather, rusty orange leaves on trees, wood-burning fireplaces, Dogfish Head Punk’n Ale, and the opportunity to throw things at your television on Saturday mornings because Lee Corso made the wrong mascot choice? It’s nothing shy of the best. No, really. Nothing beats it.
After spending a day making a whopping 225 batches of pie dough with my colleagues in preparation for Lincoln Square’s annual Apple Fest, I found myself craving all things apple related. There is just something about the sweet, juicy, crispness that makes me drool on myself. However, I didn’t just want to make any old “apple-whatever” recipe. I wanted something a little off-kilter and different, and I wanted it to be as sexy as a 1940s pin-up girl drinking a stiff Manhattan in a smoke-filled cigar bar.
Apple butter, my friends. Smoked Bourbon Apple Butter. Hello, McFly. All the cool kids are doing it.
The next thing I knew, I was stumbling up three flights of stairs to my apartment with enough apples, bourbon, and mason jars to sink James Cameron’s latest and greatest 4D version of the Titanic. How much apple butter was I seriously planning on making? And, more importantly, where was Leo to carry all of these groceries for me?! What an a——-. *Sigh*
Regardless of Leo deciding to save Rose instead of me (we later ended up duking it out on the Jerry Springer Show, but whatever—he can have her), I still managed to get all the way upstairs and unload everything without dying. I then pulled out my handy-dandy stovetop smoker, added the perfect mix of cherry, oak, and pecan wood chips, quartered all of my apples, and threw them in to get all sorts of sexified. Within 10 minutes, the heavenly scent of smoked apple filled my entire apartment. I was onto something.
As soon as the smoker was done working its magic, I transferred the apples to a stock pot which was already sizzling with melted butter. Lemons, a few bay leaves, crushed black peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, fresh thyme, grated ginger, garam masala, and apple cider all followed suit—and the whole pot was then brought to a boil and reduced down to a simmer, allowing all of those flavors to marry. Finally, for the piece de resistance, I turned the heat off, added that luscious bourbon, and blended it into pureed perfection. Mission accomplished.
If you know me well enough, you know that my brain tends to have a mind of its own. I tend to beat to the tune of my own drum, and most of the things I create in the kitchen are a true reflection of that. This batch of apple butter was no exception. Simple and classic– with a sexy, smoky, warm and fuzzy twist that brought together everything that I love about the Fall season. It doesn’t get much better than that.