It started with applesauce. Could I make a batch from apples cooked on the grill? Maybe the idea was too forced. Or maybe the results would be amazing. Easy enough to try, right? I cored and sliced an apple into rings, and put them on the grill. They were soft and tasty in five minutes. But do the apples need to be cut first?
I set a whole Braeburn over a direct medium fire. In 13 minutes it was soft all the way through (I flipped it upside down about halfway through). The Anjou pear I put on at the same time took longer, 20 minutes. I cut the flesh from the cores, not bothering to remove the peels, and hit them with a stick blender until smooth. The skins disintegrated into the puree. A little salt, chopped rosemary, and I had a lovely warm savory pear applesauce, start to finish, in less than 30 minutes.
What if I cooked the apple down even more? As that first whole Braeburn simmered in its own juice I noticed that in a couple of places the internal pressure became too great and the boiling liquid breached the skin and oozed down the apple, sizzling when it hit the flames.
Another Braeburn onto the grill, this time using indirect medium heat. Checking periodically, I saw signs of evaporation as the apple became progressively more wrinkled. At two hours, the skin had burst so I took the fruit off the grill. Then I scraped the thickened flesh from the skin and the core with a spoon and mashed it with sugar and cinnamon for instant apple butter, which I slathered on a piece of toast.
The final experiment of my apple-centric afternoon was a partially cored apple stuffed with a mix of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Like the sauce apple, this Braeburn cooked over medium direct heat. In nine minutes the flesh cooked through and the filling was sweet, brown, and bubbling. The true test came when I called my daughter down for a bite. She said it tasted just like apple pie and soon there was nothing left on the plate but the blossom end of the apple.
– Pam Hoenig