RECIPES: In autumn, apples (and pears) don’t fall far from local chefs' minds

Fall is the season for heartier fruits. Apples are plentiful, and though not as easy to find locally because of a disease called fire blight, pears can be successfully grown in Georgia backyard gardens.

We asked three Atlanta chefs to come up with dishes for a fall meal using apples and pears, and they delivered recipes for a salad, a main course and a side dish, as well as a dessert.

Doug Turbush is the chef behind Seed Kitchen & Bar, Stem Wine Bar, and Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar, where he features local ingredients prepared simply but elegantly.

Turbush’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Pancetta was originally on the menu at Stem.

“It was motivated by traveling to Spain and figuring out what would work for a small plate menu,” Turbush says. “That one came together pretty nicely, and was popular because east Cobb is crazy about Brussels sprouts in any form or fashion. And I love bacon, and I love all those ingredients together.”

The dressing might be a bit tart for some salads, Turbush notes, but it helps brighten up the Brussels sprouts, and the apples work that way, too.

“You’ll see with all our menus, it’s fruit, cheese, nuts happening on a salad somewhere at every restaurant,” he says. “A warm bacon vinaigrette is kind of a standard steakhouse spinach salad dressing, but this one’s a little different. It’s a little tart.”

At Canoe, executive chef Matt Basford creates seasonal menus with international flavors. Currently, Basford is serving a roasted Sichuan jerked half-chicken with cranberry BBQ sauce. But at home, he’s more likely to make a tried-and-true roast chicken.

“I try to keep it simple cooking at home,” he says.

Basford’s recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken With Celery Root Pear “Hash” and Cranberry BBQ Sauce melds what he might make on a weeknight with some of the chef’s techniques he uses at the restaurant.

“I think pears are kind of like the ugly stepchild, compared to apples,” Basford said. “People don’t think about using them because they can be so hard. And they don’t ripen up too much once they’ve been picked. But I like that nice, subtle sweetness that they have, and the texture holds up more than most apples do when you cook with them. They have a little crunch to them.”

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Combining celery root and pear in a hash makes for a sweet and earthy side dish to go with the chicken. And he uses the drippings from roasting the chicken to add more flavor to the hash.

“The celery root and the pear hold up well together, and they don’t fight for attention, they live in harmony,” Basford says. “With what I call the ‘chicken goodness’ from the braising pan, you get a little bit of thyme, and the chicken fat comes out, and just adds another dimension of caramelization and depth of flavor to the hash.”

At chef Craig Richards' newish restaurant Lyla Lila, house-made pasta is the star of the show. But Richards makes homey desserts he sometimes spikes with spicy or savory ingredients. One example is Spice Cake With Cardamom Apples, which certainly fits the bill for a fall fruit dessert.

“I think you can cook fruit and treat it as a savory item, pretty easily,” he says. “I like doing different stone fruits on the wood grill here. You season them with salt and pepper, like you would anything else. In the past, I’ve done pears as part of a pasta filling with different cheeses. And we’ve been doing grilled peaches with pork and broccolini.”

For his easy spice cake, Richards uses black pepper and peanut oil, which gives it savory and nutty notes, in a dessert that isn’t too sweet. And he uses molasses to give the cake some caramel flavor and color.

“As far as the apples and cardamom, I’ve always liked that flavor combination,” he says. "To me, cardamom almost smells and tastes like a green apple, anyway. And so when you put it together with a tart apple variety, it’s pretty harmonious.

“But you could use pears, or even quince could be good. And I might serve it with whipped cream with a touch of vanilla. I think it hits all those notes, as far as the fall spices you expect, and some flavors you may not expect, and it should be delicious if you serve it warm.”

RECIPES

These recipes from three Atlanta chefs highlight apples and pears with seasonal dishes to make for a fall meal.

Credit: Jeff Moore

Credit: Jeff Moore

Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette, Parmesan, Pine Nuts, and Pancetta

For optimum flavor, chef Doug Turbush notes that ideally this substantial salad should be served slightly warm, which can be achieved by gently warming the ingredients prior to serving.

Credit: Jeff Moore

Credit: Jeff Moore

Whole Roasted Chicken With Celery Root Pear ‘Hash’ and Cranberry BBQ Sauce

Chef Matt Basford shows the way he roasts chicken at home and adds some restaurant-grade flair with the side and the sauce.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Spice Cake With Cardamom Apples

Chef Craig Richards loves apples with cardamom, and he says the peanut oil and black pepper in the cake are a nice surprise and welcome partner with the apples.

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