With the apple harvest season slowly coming to an end in our region, you can’t swing the proverbial cat without hitting a raucous apple/wine or apple-wine festival around here once you stick your nose outside of town. Anything edible or drinkable you could possibly turn apples into – including the trees themselves, I might add (Keywords: applewood chips, smoker, piles of meat and veg) – is cozying up next to other seasonal goodies on carry-around plates, carried around by happy people indulging in the festivities (and the cider…).
And, of course, the aromas of fresh, roasted, baked, grilled… you get the picture… apples are dancing out of the orchards, across the fields, into the cities and through the streets, obviously on a mission to make everyone hungry for more. Sounds like just the perfect mission for me to tag along with, right? Right~! This year, I decided to act on the impulse the faint aromas of roasted meat accompanying the season’s apple perfume, grabbed what, at least in my opinion, is an apples best rooty friend and a couple of veal t-bones and gave one of our regular Autumn-Dinner “guests” a little twist. Here’s this year’s Ode to the Apple, two servings of a delicious trio of veal, apples and parsnips~
The Parsnip Purée
500g Parsnips, carefully cleaned, peeled and diced into ~1cm cubes
1 Shallot, roughly chopped
200ml Chicken, Veal or Vegetable Stock
2 Tbsp Crème Légère – have a bit more on hand, in case the purée turns out too gooey
1 heaped Tsp freshly grated Horseradish
1 Tbsp Butter
2 generous pinches of celery salt – 1 for the parsnips, one for the crème fraîche/légère addition
1 Pinch each of Nutmeg and Tonka Bean
Alt: (instead of the Tonka Bean) ¼ Vanilla Pod or 4 Drops of Vanilla Extract
1 generous Pinch each of Sea Salt, freshly cracked Pepper and Ground Chilli Powder
1-2 Tbsp Parsley Leaves, very finely chopped to decorate
1 Splash of Lemon Juice
Opt: 1 Tbsp of Brown Butter to taste
1) Set a large pan onto medium-high heat on one plate and a pot large enough to keep the stock – and soon the parsnip cubes as well – onto the other plate, set to medium.
2) Pour the stock into the pot and allow it to heat up while you’re dealing with the parsnips.
3) Pop the cubes into your pan once it’s hot enough to sizzle at contact with a test-cube and pan-roast the veggies with the help of the butter and a generous dusting of celery salt, pepper and nutmeg.
4) After about 2 mins, add the shallots.
5) Once the parsnips are pretty golden all around, transfer the contents of your pan into the simmering stock “next door” and turn the heat below the pot down to medium-low.
6) Allow the lot to simmer away on medium-low heat for 15 mins – take care of the apple-knife-prep in the meantime~
7) As soon as the parsnip’s time in the stock is over, take the pot off the heat, add the horseradish, crème, lemon juice, ground tonka bean/vanilla extract, another pinch of celery salt, the optional brown butter, sea salt, pepper and chilli powder.
8) Whizz up the fragrant lot with a stick blender or transfer everything into a blender-jug and let the gizmo do the all work for you.
9) Have a taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then close the lid and set the purée aside for the time being – keep it hot but make sure it’s not boiling or burning.
10) If the purée turns out a bit too wet for your liking, pop it back onto the stove on low heat and stir slowly, constantly, until you’re satisfied~
Since I told you guys this one is a slightly tweaked version of my “regular” version, here’s what’s changed: Parsnip-purée-wise… nothing, other than the simple fact that I sometimes “forget” to whizz the lot up into a purée. Griddle, season, flip with crème and the aroma-gang listed above, tip out onto the plates. Ta~dah!
The T-Bone Steaks
Before you get started on the sizzlework, make sure you’ve got the prep for the Cider Apples covered already – everything apple-related goes into the veal-pan as soon as they’re out.
2 Veal T-Bone Steaks – for those of you not (ever) in the mood for veal, I’d suggest using pork chops instead. Food for thought: I keep hearing – by people who know exactly what it is about pork that repels me – that I should reeeeally give Swabian-Hall piggies a chance in the flavor department, especially when paired with apples and other Autumn’y aromas~
1 Clove of Garlic, peeled and lightly bashed
1 Bay Leaf – if you’e using a fresh leaf: crumple it a bit and rub it between the palms of your hands to help release the essential oils just before it goes into the pan.
1 Strip of Lemon Peel
Opt: ½ Habanero or 1 Piri-Piri for some funk, roughly chopped up
2 leafy Sprigs of Thyme
Freshly cracked Pepper
50g Clarified Butter/Ghee
A few drops of Olive Oil to massage the meat with
1) Remember to release your Veal T-Bone steaks or chops from their packaging about an hour prior to the pan showdown – pat them dry, lay them out on a plate and cover them with a sheet of paper towel before placing them somewhere safe to get up to room temperature.
2) Pre-heat your griddle or a heavy-based frying pan until a test-drop of oil starts dancing and hissing immediately upon contact with the hot pan.
3) Drizzle the steaks with a hint of olive oil and gently rub it across the surface of the meat – the bone included.
4) Generously dust the meat with salt just before the steaks hit the pan.
5) As always: Don’t overcrowd the pan! If the steaks don’t fit in side by side, or if the sizzling I’ll-make-you-crispy-noises fade once the first steak hits the pan, or if you’re not sure if it’ll work: use two pans from the get-go – otherwise you’ll have a pretty hard time getting a crust onto the yummies before they turn into rubber.
6) As soon as you and your pan(s) are ready, add the clarified butter to the pan and gently place the steaks inside, carefully laying it down away from you to keep butter-bubbles from spraying you with hot droplets.
7) Once the steaks are in, tilt the pan a bit and pop the garlic, lemon peel, bay, chilli and thyme into the gathering butter. Hold it like this for about 30 seconds to give the spices some time to warm up, then set the pan back down onto the stove and gently shake it to spread the fragrant mixture throughout the pan.
8) Keep everything sizzling away for 4-5 mins (this is going to be a medium-rare to medium t-bone, if you’re looking for another core temperature, bear with me, I’ll get to that in a second~).
9) Have a peek beneath the steaks after 4 mins – if a rich, delicious, golden-brown crisp has already made an appearance, turn the heat down to medium and flip them over for round 2.
10) If the crust’s still missing or not crusty enough for your liking, keep the steaks in for a minute or two longer.
11) Once the steaks have settled down again, generously baste them with the infused butter in the pan – for a couple of different reasons ranging from meat to heat, you might not have much to baste the steaks with. If that’s the case, add a bit more clarified butter, swirl the pan to gather up the aromas sticking to the bottom of the pan and try again.
12) Pick up the herbs, peel and garlic, place them on top of the steaks, baste them one last time and, once more, leave them to their own devices for 4 mins.
13) So, like I said, 4-5 mins per side will result in a deliciously juicy medium-rare veal t-bone. If it’s a regular-sized one, that is.
14) If you’re blessed/cursed with particularly thick or thin ones, if you’re looking for another core temperature, if you’re using chops or you’re not familiar with the cut of meat-on-the-bone in front of you, going with a meat-thermometer is the safest way to get the results you’re looking for. Poke it into the center of the filet-part of the t-bone/the center of the larger, thicker piece and watch the needle rise to…
54°C for Rare
58°C for Medium-Rare
61°C for Medium
65°C for Medium-Well
70°C for “Ask the Chef for Chicken”
These temperatures are “Pre-Rest” temps, by the way. While the meat is resting under a comfy aluminum blanket, the temperatures will rise up another 4-5°C, getting to where you want it on it’s own.
15) If you’re going with another type of meat or cut of veal, you’ll have to rely on the usual pressure test or the related temperature tables.
16) Either way, once you’re satisfied with the steaks for now, place them on a warmed plate or tray and seal them in under a sheet of aluminum foil.
17) Allow them to rest for about 6-8 mins which, very conveniently, is about the same time you’ll need to finish off the apples~!
As for the “tweak” in regards to the meat… Well, usually I go with a fillet of veal or a pair of chops – due to the fact that veal t-bone steaks are basically creatures of myth around these parts.
The Cider Apples
3 Braeburn or Fuji Apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Shallots, thinly sliced into ringlets
1 Heaped Tbsp Barberries
¼ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Pinch of Allspice
1-2 Scrapes of Nutmeg
25g Clarified Butter
200ml Dry Apple Cider
2 Tbsp Calvados
1 Tbsp Cider Vinegar
1) As you’re slicing your way through the apples, place them in a bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Give them a quick toss to distribute the juice once you’re done.
2) As soon as your steaks are out of the pan, turn the heat back up to medium-high and fish out any burned bits and pieces of thyme, bay leaf, garlic or lemon peel if there are any.
3) Pop in the butter and, once it’s melted, add the apples, shallots, a generous pinch each of salt and chilli flakes and the nutmeg.
4) Sauté the lot until the shallots start to turn translucent – move the contents of the pan around by gently shaking the pan a bit to keep the apple slices whole.
5) Turn the heat up to the highest setting.
6) Drizzle the apple mixture with the honey and dust them with the cinnamon and a hearty pinch of ground allspice before deglazing the whole delicious deal with the cider and a splash of cider vinegar.
7) Carefully put a rubber spatula to work, scrubbing the delicious remains of the veal-deal beneath the apple slices up into the apple sauce.
8) Add the barberries and allow everything to bubble away for 2-3 mins.
9) Now here’s a bit of possible dinner-table show: You could add the calvados to the apples now and get ready to plate up. Ooooor… If a) you know what you’re doing (!) and b) you’re preparing this for a dinner party or special occasion, you could hold onto the calvados for just a bit longer, plate up, turn off the lights and flambé the steaks in front of the crowd. (make sure you do this in a high-ceilinged room…)
10) Assuming you add the calvados to the sauce in the safety of your kitchen, have it followed by a generous dose of salt and pepper.
11) Have a taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Make sure you have a barberry and a piece of apple on your test-spoon, you might need to add more honey to balance them out if the apples were on the very-tart side of things to begin with.
Assembling the Dish
Well, not much left to do~!
1) Retrieve your purée and distribute it onto 2 plates, creating a comfy bed for the steaks and apples.
2) Pop the steaks on top and pile up the apples next to or on top of them – keep the steaks uncovered if you’re going with the flambé’ing idea, though.
3) I’d recommend serving a simple green garden salad with a light and zingy mustard vinaigrette to the side if you have the time to take care of that as well – if not, don’t worry, the dish is “complete” and perfectly delicious without it~
4) Serve while it’s hot and…