"Peel and core some cooking apples ; cut each in eight equal slices. Cover the bottom of a buttered pie-dish with them. Strew over them one tablespoonful of fine crumbs, a little salt, a dust of cinnamon, a teaspoonful of brown sugar. Repeat until the dish is full ; finally let the top be crumbs. Cover it with another pie-dish of same size, bake thirty minutes in hot oven, then bake a quarter of an hour longer, uncovered. Serve hot with ducks, pork or goose."
May Byron, May Byron’s Vegetable Book (1916)
This recipe for an apple sauce / crumble-esque accompaniment to duck, pork or goose comes from Chapter IV of May Byron’s Vegetable Book, “Sweet Fruits and Nuts Used as Vegetables”. Introducing that chapter, Mrs Byron tells us:
"The use of sweet fruits as an accompaniment to salt dishes is very old ; that of nuts as a substitute for meat is comparatively modern. Apple sauce with roast pork or goose is a time- honoured institution ; so is cranberry sauce with turkey ; so is red currant jelly with mutton or hare. It is probable that our forefathers largely extended this list, and mixed up sweet and salt in a way which would certainly stagger their descendants. One has only to read the menus of their dinners, to be convinced of their amazing latitude in this respect. But I think we tend to the other extreme, and might very well replenish our ideas and our tables with dishes such as those suggested below."
I quite agree, and I think this recipe, with its mix of baked apple slices, breadcrumbs and cinnamon, would indeed make an excellent accompaniment to a bit of roast swine or fowl, with the added bonus that any leftovers could be polished off with custard for pudding. Yum.
One final word from the oh, so terribly English Mrs. Byron, on the subject of choosing suitable apples, from the beginning of the ‘Apples’ section of Chapter IV:
“NOTE – Good sound cooking apples should be selected for culinary purposes ; English ones have a flavour which no foreign ones possess, and I do not recommend American, Canadian, Tasmanian or New Zealand apples for any of the uses indicated below.”
“Below” in this case referring to any of the apple recipes in the book. So that’s those colonial types put in their place, what?1Which perhaps was a little ungracious, if not downright ungrateful, when you consider that when the book was published in 1916, those colonial types were probably busy saving Britain’s imperial bacon on the beaches of Gallipoli and right across the Western Front of World War One.
How about you? Do you like the sound of this breadcrumb-enhanced apple sauce? Would you scoff it with your sausages? Chuck it on your pork chops? Dollop it on your duck? Or just eat a big old bowlful with a scoop or three of your favourite ice cream? Do please let me know, via the comments.
- 1Which perhaps was a little ungracious, if not downright ungrateful, when you consider that when the book was published in 1916, those colonial types were probably busy saving Britain’s imperial bacon on the beaches of Gallipoli and right across the Western Front of World War One.