Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apple Chips for Wine Night

It is my turn to bring the appetizers for Wine Night. We’ll be having pizza baked in the outdoor, wood fired oven that my neighbors built.  The wine is from the Finger Lakes region.  Dessert, a surprise. 

With pizza as the main coarse, the appetizer needs to be light.  No bready items and no anti-pasti or cheese that might come too close to imitating the pizza toppings. And, the appetizer needs to compliment the wine. 

It’s fall so roasted nuts and dried fruits come to mind as a nice foil to the dinner.  Guests can nibble and won’t get too full. Dried figs, apricots and dates will boost the flavors of the wines and roasted pecans, peanuts and almonds will balance some of the tannins of younger wines.

Apple chips dusted with herbs that compliment the wine will be the centerpiece of the appetizer spread.  Cinnamon-sugar scented chips are the usual flavor but my mix of dried mint, sage, black pepper and salt with a small amount of sugar will bring out the herbal notes in both the white and red wines being served and adds a sophisticated note to the apple flavor.  This is an easy recipe, but must be started early in the day.

Herbed Apple Chips
Ingredients
4 apples (note recipe can be halved if oven is not large enough for 4 sliced apples)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon each dried mint and sage
1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Method
  1. Arrange racks in oven so that they are evenly spaced.  Check how many sheet pans you can fit on the racks.  One medium sliced apple will fill a large baking sheet. This will determine how many apple chips you can make at one time.  
  2. Bring oven to 225˚F while you prepare the apples.  Line the baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone pads or waxed paper sprayed with a bit of vegetable oil.  
  3. Slice apples 1/8” inch or less thick.  A mandolin or slide-slicer will make this easy.  
  4. In a wide bowl toss sliced apples with lemon juice, sugar, herbs, salt and pepper.  
  5. Lay apple slices on prepared baking sheets as close together as possible without overlapping.
  6. Bake 20 minutes, then using a spatula carefully flip apples over.  Continue to bake at 225˚F for a total of 1 1/2- 2 hours, turning every 15-20 minutes until apples begin to brown and are quite dry.  (Apple chips should be crisp, not chewy.)
  7. As chips are ready, remove them from the baking sheets and place on a cool baking sheet or board to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.  You may recrisp these apple chips in a low oven, 15 minutes.