Savoury baked apples with goats’ curd and Parma ham
Baked apples, stuffed with butter, cinnamon, walnuts,
currants and almonds were a favourite pudding of my
late English grandmother. She served them warm with
cold custard, the outsides of the apples as wrinkled
as the backs of her hands. Here I’ve taken them on
a savoury route. They provide a lovely companion for
a bitter green salad, perhaps with roast chicken as a
centrepiece. You can use most red apples, which have
a good crunch and bite. Green may prove a little too
tart. You could also substitute the goats’ curd mix for
skinned sausagemeat for a heartier twist, or swap the
goats’ curd for blue cheese if you want something
richer. The lavender, while not essential at all, does
add a subtle floral note to the goats’ curd, which in
turn picks up some of the country-lane-sweetness
in a Royal Gala apple.
You Will Need
Preheat the oven to 150˚C/300˚F/Gas 2.
Cut the tops off the apples, about 1 cm below the stalk,
then set the tops aside. Use an apple corer or a melon
baller to remove the core of the apple and fashion a
tunnel about as thick as a wine cork through the centre.
You want the walls of the remaining apple to be 1–1.5
cm thick. Discard the cores. Using a sharp knife, score
a shallow slit around the perimeter of each apple, about
1 cm below the top (this will help the apples not to
burst during baking).
Take one postage-stamp square of ham and shimmy it
down to the bottom of the tunnel and let the corners
snake up the sides – you want to create a ‘plug’ for the
filling so it doesn’t fall out the bottom during baking.
Combine the chopped nuts with the goats’ curd,
rosemary and lavender, if you fancy. Add the olive oil
and mash with a fork to combine.
Divide the filling into 6 and press each portion into the
hollow in each apple, being careful not to push out the
ham plug at the bottom.
Wrap 2 sheets of Parma ham around each apple.
Use the fattiest parts of ham as glue to help it stick
to the fruit. If it really won’t stick, you can always
use a cocktail stick to fasten it in place.
Put the apples in a baking dish and drizzle the tops with
a little olive oil. Pour the cider or apple juice into the
baking dish and place the tops of the apples in there too.
Cover the tray with foil (try not to let the foil touch the
filling) and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Remove the foil, turn the oven temperature up to
180˚C/350˚F/Gas 4 and bake for another 20 minutes
or until the apples are soft and the ham is crisp.
Serve the apples warm, with the tops at a jaunty angle
for presentation, with salad leaves and a drizzling of
the cooking juices from the bottom of the dish.