Saturday, November 6, 2010

Savory Stuffed Apples & Ranch Jalapeno Mac & Cheese

Not to shock y'all too much but I made some more "real" food today. As in, I skipped baking so I could instead feed my husband something resembling dinner. Of course, after I got my heart set on trying these savory stuffed apples he informed me that he doesn't actually like apples. You think I'd know that after four years of marriage but it's difficult to keep his many and varied quibbles with produce straight. So I had to scramble and find a more suitable recipe just for him: ranch jalapeno macaroni and cheese. My compromise was to make both and sample a little of each myself. I wasn't ready to give up on my dream of stuffed apples.

The stuffed apples were pretty darn good and the meat stuffing really did work with the sweetness of the apple. Only trouble is most of mine exploded in the oven. Not sure if there's some trick to preventing that but it obviously didn't affect the flavor. The recipe's a winner, perfect for this season.

The mac & cheese was also tasty enough. Not sure I'll make it again as I'm not big on using packaged mixes and such and my husband wasn't too impressed with it. He was my target audience, after all, and he's the mac & cheese gourmand around these parts. The sauce was also a little runny, which could have been due to some mistake on my part or the omission of crushed Ritz crackers from the original recipe. The chopped pickled jalapeno peppers was my addition because I've made some tasty mac & cheese in the past using some. Helped add a little extra kick, not that the ranch-infused sauce needed much help. I also garnished with some chopped parsley because, if it were up to me, all dishes would contain some sort of fresh herbs.

Jose Andres' Savory Stuffed Apples
Recipe from Jose Andres

For the filling:
3 slices bread, crust removed and torn into small pieces
3/4 cup milk
1 pound ground pork, beef, lamb, or veal, or a combination (I used lamb)
2 slices bacon, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Chopped parsley
Salt to taste

Stuffed apples:
6 large baking apples, like McIntosh or Empire, cored
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Meat filling
Olive oil
1 tablespoon oloroso sherry

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a paring knife, expand the opening in each apple. Rub cored apples with lemon juice to keep from browning. Soak the bread in milk until well saturated, about 10 minutes. Combine the soaked bread with the meat, onion, parsley, cinnamon and salt. Generously stuff each apple with the meat mixture. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and oloroso sherry. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 35 minutes in an oven-safe baking dish.

Ranch Jalapeno Mac & Cheese
Recipe from Aunt Peg's Recipe Box

1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby cheese
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
4 pickled jalapeno slices, finely chopped (use more if you're not a wuss like me)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Chopped parsley

1) Cook macaroni according to package directions.

2) Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the milk, butter, dressing mix, garlic, and pepper; heat through. Stir in Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses until melted. Stir in sour cream and chopped jalapeno.

3) Drain macaroni; stir into cheese sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Yield: 8 servings.


Bree said...

Oh, that mac & cheese sounds just perfect right now! I had such a craving for something like it this week, but I was too lazy, so I just bought some jar cheese sauce & alfredo sauce, mixed them together with the pasta & some italian sausage & it worked alright for me, but yours sounds so much better!

Xiaolu said...

Mmm the ranch jalapeno mac & cheese sounds spicy and flavorful. Just how I like my pasta dishes.