Caramelized Apples

Caramelized apples served

I’ve never met a cruiser who doesn’t count apples as a primary food group.  Thrown in a produce hammock they last endlessly, fending off scurvy just as well as they did rumbling around in barrels on galleons.  I have recipes in every category using apples — breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, main, side, dessert…even mocktail.  For a super-speedy breakfast, it’s just an apple and a jar of crunchy peanut butter, but on the weekend, with a little more time to spare, it’s time to caramelize them!  We love these for breakfast, but they make a wonderful side dish for pork, and are even good over vanilla ice cream with or without an additional caramel sauce.

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All you need for these is apples (about one good-sized per person/serving), sugar, and vegetable oil.  And time. You might notice I’m using the back of my Galley Pirates cutting board; this is how I avoid any risk of my sweet apples getting a vague garlicky flavor. One side for sweets, the other for savories!  Little galley space- and flavor-saving trick for you there.

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Core the apples and slice into fairly-thick, uniformly-sized slices.  Another beauty of this recipe?  NO PEELING — the peels soften and are delicious, and honestly hold the slices together when the flesh has become soft and gooey.

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Coat preferably a non-stick frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and bring to high-heat.  Add apple slices and turn heat to medium, turning the slices to coat with oil.  Then sprinkle liberally with sugar — about 1/4 cup per good-sized apple.  NOTE: these turn out best — better than shown above! — if you don’t crowd the pan as I have.  If possible, have enough space so that all slices are flat against the pan and barely or not even touching each other.  This lets them caramelize more uniformly and prevents them steaming in the process.  That said, I had neither an 18-inch sautee pan, the space for one on my galley stove, nor the patience this morning to work in batches, so crowded they were…and they were still delicious, just a little less wonderfully sticky-chewy than they could have been.

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In this close up you can see what I mean…they’re caramelizing, but also releasing a lot of liquid that is having a tough time escaping without stewing and steaming the apples on its way out.

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Sautee the apples over medium-low heat, turning occasionally, until most of the watery liquid has evaporated, leaving a syrupy sauce, and the apples have some caramel color — this will take about 20-30 minutes depending on how low-heat and patient you are willing to be!

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When finished, set them aside to cool on plates; the good news is, they are scathing sugar-melting hot, so 10 minutes sitting will cool them just pleasantly.  Meanwhile, use the same pan — wiped most un-thoroughly with a paper towel, leaving some apple flavor — to brown precooked breakfast sausages (these are a new favorite galley staple; already cooked, you merely brown them for 5 minutes or so, giving you instant breakfast-pork-satisfaction!)  I also toasted some raisin bread — see our gadgets section to find out about this indispensable camp toaster that lets you toast on the cooktop and forgo cramming a toaster into your galley, or heating up the broiler.

20150620_163329Happy breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or snack!  So throw some apples in that produce hammock, and cruise on, pirates.

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