We all know what we’re supposed to do when life gives us lemons. (Make lemon cake with lemon buttercream frosting and top it with candied lemons. Duh.)
But what to do when life hands you apples and pears?
First, you smile knowing that apples and pears mean fall is on the way. Then you start thinking about your annual pumpkin baking orgy, how you get to stare at Tom Brady for four hours every Sunday, and whether or not this will be the year that you finally buy something in faux fur.
And then you make compote.
Pear-and-apple compote has been the fate of my past three Mountain Meadows CSA baskets of apples and pears. I should probably change it up and make a breakfast crisp one of these days, but once I taste this compote, I become a junkie and I need to keep a steady supply. Plus, the firm texture and not-too-sweet flavor of the apple and pear varieties in my basket really make them ideal compote components (compotents? Ha!).
Why ‘compote’ and not ‘sauce’? Do you not know me at all? I always choose French when given the choix. But actually, the chunky texture and cinnamon, orange and lemon notes remind me much more of a traditional compote, which is made from fruit simmered in a simple syrup, although this compote is not nearly as sweet. Bottom line: will your day be better if you breakfast on compote or sauce? I thought so.
Once you peel and core the apples and pears (a task I try to eliminate when I can, but you really don’t want chunks of skin in your compote), your work is done and you let the oven melt it all into a fragrant, divine mess that’s perfect as-is, but is also good with ice cream, yogurt, or whipped cream. The pear chunks hold their shape much more than the apples, giving the compote a perfectly rustic texture, and the orange zest gives it a little bit of an orange hue. If you don’t care for the orange flavor and want a more traditional applesauce flavor, you can totally leave it out and it’s still fabulous. Last time I omitted the citrus altogether and used hard cider as the cooking liquid. That was tasty!
I have many, many super-exciting pear and apple ideas in the hopper (the HOPPAH). But for now, it’s compote time in Tennessee!
- Zest and juice of 1 large navel orange
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 3 pounds sweet but firm apples (about 8 apples)
- 3 pounds ripe but firm pears (about 7 pears)
- ¼-1/2 c brown sugar, lightly packed (to taste)
- 2 T unsalted butter
- 1 t ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place the lemon/orange zest and juice in a ceramic Dutch oven. Peel, quarter, and core the apples and pears and toss them into the juice. Add the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon, and cover the pot. Bake for 1¼- 1½ hours, until the apples and pears are tender. Mash with a potato masher to the desired consistency (the pears will hold their shape more than the apples). Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature.