At the weekend, my Dad cooked some roast pork (roast pork which he did not allow me to photograph, the shy man). Now, clearly, nothing is better with roast pork than a good apple sauce, so I spent twenty minutes the previous evening making some so that it would have a night in the fridge to infuse with quiet background flavours from some spicing and orange peel.
At this time of year the shops are full of handsome, enormous Bramley apples. They’re a cooking apple too tart to eat raw (my Grandma used to grow them, and I learned this to my cost), but when cooked they melt into a beautiful, pale, fruity mush.
I peeled and chopped five apples (leaving the cores and seeds intact – there’s almondy flavour in those little seeds which emphasises the apple-ness of the sauce), and put them in a pan with half a wine glass of water, three whole allspice berries, four cloves, a stick of cinnamon, two and a half tablespoons of caster sugar and some pared orange peel. Fifteen minutes of simmering reduced the chunks to a fluffy mass.
While the mixture was still warm, I beat in a large knob of butter and a pinch of salt. You only need a tiny bit of salt in this, and it doesn’t make the finished sauce at all salty, just underlining the flavour of the sauce.
The mixture, still a bit rough and lumpy (and still full of spice and peel) sat on the side until cool, and then went into the fridge to develop overnight. The next morning, I pushed it through a sieve, making the texture silky and smooth, and getting rid of the spices (nothing is quite as surprising as an unexpected allspice berry cracked between your wisdom teeth). Allspice is a curiously English spice, popping up in all kinds of recipes from cake batters to treatments for game. It’s the dried berry of a variety of Jamaican myrtle, and was given its name by English explorers who believed that it combined the flavour of cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon. It doesn’t really; its flavour is very much its own, but in the UK a mixed, ground spice blend is sometimes used as a substitute.
The finished sauce is not a thing of beauty, but it tasted extremely good; fruity with a glossy depth from the butter and spiced in a way that didn’t shout at you. Perhaps next time I’ll add a little dried chili and some grated fresh ginger. We glopped it all over my Dad’s excellent roast pork, and were happy.