Everyone loves apple crumble.
Everyone loves bacon.
This was a no-brainer.
Growing up my mom used to make an apple crumble that was incredible. I wish I knew the recipe that she used (I suspect it was from an old Betty Crocker cook book we had, though it may have been on one of the recipe cards she kept in her grandmothers old wooden recipe card box… I wonder what happened to that). Nevertheless, it was something that signified fall for me and was the ultimate in comfort food. The smell of apples and cinnamon bubbling away under a buttery and crisp crumble would fill the house and wrap you, and everything for that matter, in its warmth.
I went years without ever making an apple crumble for fear that it wouldn’t live up to the memories I had of the one my mom made. Frankly, I don’t think I’ll ever get there. So why not embrace it?
Pork and apple were meant for each other in a savory setting—think Thanksgiving dressing with sausage and apple, marinating ribs in cider, roasting a juicy pork loin over a bed of chopped fennel and apples, or stuffing hollowed out apples with ground pork and sage—but why couldn’t the same be said for something on the sweeter side? I mean, bacon is the perfect ingredient. It’s saltiness balances ingredients that are incredibly sweet—think sweet potato—and also softens intense bitterness—just studding a radicchio salad with bacon and streaming some fat into its vinaigrette takes away some of the jarring jaw-shock of the leaves. Here a mix of sweet honey crisps and sharp granny smiths balance each other—it’s the best way to bake with apples if you ask me—so the bacon is an added bonus at this point.
Naturally, the bulk of the bacon is found in the crumble topping, having been crisped to a delightfully salty crunch, but some bacon fat is reserved, chilled, and then broken up with butter in the crumble itself. It lends a savoriness to this that is so satisfying. It tastes like brunch (which, by right, gives you full permission to eat this for breakfast). With a big scoop of salted caramel ice cream on top it’s absolute perfection.
It’s not just like Mom made—she would never—but I’m totally fine with that.
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