The time-honored duo of apples and rhubarb creates a piquant side dish that can be as rustic or refined as you want. Put the sauce through a food mill to make it silky-smooth and elegant, or leave it as is, with apple chunks and bits of peel intact, for a more earthy approach.
In addition to serving applesauce as a side dish or as a condiment with potato pancakes or roasted meat, cookbook writer Lora Brody uses it to make granita; see the NOTE below.
You'll need a slow-cooker with a capacity of at least 4 quarts, preferably larger.
Servings: 8 cups
- 6 large, firm, flavorful apples, such as Fuji, Granny Smith or Cortland; 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
- 2 pounds rhubarb, ribs only
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon (about 1 tablespoon zest and 1/4 to 1/3 cup juice)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Core and quarter the apples. If you plan to puree the applesauce in a food mill, leave the core and seeds intact; otherwise, remove and discard them. Trim off and discard the rhubarb ends and cut the ribs into 1-inch chunks.
Combine the apples, rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest and juice, cider, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in the slow-cooker insert. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours, until the apples and rhubarb are very tender. If the slow-cooker has been filled very full, uncover it briefly after 2 or 3 hours and stir to redistribute the contents.
Discard the cinnamon stick. If you intend to puree the applesauce, use a slotted spoon to transfer the apple and rhubarb solids to a food mill or the bowl of a food processor. Puree, adding cooking juices to achieve the desired consistency.
Serve warm or cold.
NOTE: To make a granita, transfer 4 cups of the chilled applesauce to a shallow metal pan with a capacity of at least 5 cups that has been stored in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and return it to the freezer. Use a fork to stir and fluff up the applesauce every 20 to 30 minutes, returning it to the freezer each time, until you have achieved a slightly slushy granita with coarse crystals of ice. This will take 2 to 4 hours. Alternatively, process the applesauce in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
Adapted from "Slow Cooker Cooking," by Lora Brody (William Morrow, 2001).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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