When Exactly: Monday Jan. 12 - 1:45 PM
Purchased From: Ochs Orchard (Warwick, NY)
Color: I don’t know, I’m colorblind.
Eaten How: Diced and sauteed with caramelized cipollinis, cognac, rosemary and bacon; served over red-wine-braised pork loin with rosemary and hickory smoke.
Not taking any chances.
After the first disappointing offering from Ochs, I decided to boost my chances of a good eating experience by cooking my other Warwickian Winesap. I generally don’t like cooking anything but purely tart apples, but I hoped I could avoid a mushy, sweet compote by keeping the cooking time short, preserving some of the apple’s tang and texture (provided that it had any to begin with).
A pre-preparation raw tasting revealed this Winesap to have a firmer bite than Ochs #1 (though it wasn’t quite crunchy either) and a slightly stronger sweet/sour balance. I took out some balance-preserving insurance by adding a drop of lemon juice and honey to the sautee.
The Winesap proved to be a good sponge for surrounding stimuli while thankfully holding onto its shape and light flavors. It managed to absorb a smoky note from the bacon even though the pork had been fully cooked before being added to the pan. The accompanying pork loin had been brined with honey, a touch of liquid hickory smoke and a variety of herbs, yet even after the brine and red wine braise, its flavors were somewhat muted (a common problem with relatively low-fat cuts of pork). The lightly smoky Winesap sautee aided in bringing out the herb and hickory flavors in the pork without drowning itself out, and the original apple’s flavor remained prominent when combined with both the meat and the bold caramelized cipollinis. Impressive.
I’ve never cooked with Winesaps before since they have so much to offer in their raw state, yet this experiment may lead to further preparations. Low-cooking-time applications such as this may be a good way to use this cultivar’s unique characteristics to bolster a dish that needs help.