Recipe: Sweet Meat & Apples; and A Couple Tecumseh Festivals


This photo is just over three years old. That’s why.

If you’re headed over to Tecumseh, Michigan, tomorrow or Sunday for this year’s Appleumpkin Festival, make sure you also take the trolley, or make the short drive, to the Kapnick Orchards’ Apple Festival. To be perfectly frank, I happen to enjoy spending time at the Apple Festival at Kapnick’s more than I do at the Appleumpkin Festival itself in Tecumseh’s downtown area. Appleumpkin itself used to be huge, with amazing entertainment, pie eating contests, and all sorts of activities. But it seems as though the meat of the weekend is now at Kapnick’s. More than 80 craft booths, some good food vendors, a crew making real apple butter outside in a huge pot over a fire, the main stage and its almost continuous entertainment, the wagon rides through the “haunted forest” in broad daylight for the kiddies … and of course, Kapnick’s broad selection of apple varieties and other fruits from acres of their own trees. Picking apples yourself out there right off the trees can be a blast! Or you can purchase apples in the orchard’s store, along with fresh donuts and other baked goods from their in-store bakery, some excellent cider, that handmade apple butter in jars, and a large array of other goodies.

Sweet Meat & Apples is one of those interesting recipes, from my mom’s hand-typed recipe notebook, that has no history that anyone remembers. It also sounds a bit strange. The first time I read the title my mind translated “sweet meat” as “sweetbreads” and my stomach took a tumble. But no, there are no sweetbreads in this recipe.

After making this dish the first time, we were hooked. It turned out to be just sweet enough that the flavor of the meat was still able to come through. Garnishing it the way I did, with wedges of fresh apples (from Kapnick Orchards, no less) and a dollop of Roast Apple & Onion Relish from American Spoon Foods up in Petoskey, Michigan, really punched up the flavors. We like this dish a lot.

This is an interesting way to prepare ground chuck, fresh pork sausage, or some variety of venison taken during a hunt. If the ground meat or sausage is browned until it’s just barely still pink before adding the apples, the flavor is even better. Three different varieties of apples are used to give the meat a sweet flavor, as does a bit of sweet onion.

Sweet Meat & Apples

Ingredients
3 lbs ground chuck (80/20), ground venison or elk, or bulk mild sausage
1 medium sweet onion
3 Tbs minced or granulated garlic
1 Granny Smith apples
1 Jonathan apple
2 large Red Delicious apples
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
Roast Apple & Onion Relish (optional) 

Equipment
1 14″ x 3″ deep skillet with lid
1 colander OR 1 plate lined with paper towel (if using sausage)
Reclosable sandwich bag

Skin and dice the onion and heat the large skillet to medium heat. Once the skillet is hot (you may need to add olive oil to the pan to help game meats like venison cook properly without scorching), add the meat, the diced onion and the minced garlic. Brown this mixture thoroughly until the meat is barely done and the onion is translucent. Remove the pan from the heat. If using beef or venison: Dump the meat mixture into the colander to drain the juices off, pushing on the meat with the back of a spoon to get the most liquid to drain. If using sausage: Dump the sausage mixture onto the paper towel on the plate.

Once the meat or sausage is drained, put it back in the skillet off the stove.

Peel and core the apples. Cut one of the Red Delicious apples in half, bag one half with a few drops of lemon juice (so it won’t turn brown) and refrigerate it. Cut the remainder of the apples into 1/2″ cubes. Add the apple cubes to the meat mixture, put the lid on the skillet and set the heat for warm (generally less than low). Once the mixture is hot, simmer it for about 20-to-30 minutes until the apple cubes are tender.

Retrieve the half an apple from the refrigerator and cut it into wedges. Garnish individual servings with the apple wedges and a large spoonful of the roast apple & onion relish.

Notes:

  • American Spoon Foods’ Roast Apple & Onion Relish is available in numerous retail stores around the state and at their web site.
  • That’s minced or granulated garlic. Not garlic powder. There’s a huge difference in flavor. Really, there is. Garlic powder’s not even close.
  • While this recipe calls for specific kinds of apples, go ahead and experiment with different varieties to get different flavors. Your personal favorite may not even be close to what’s listed here.
  • Try to stay away from sausage containing blueberries, maple syrup, or similar sweet blends. This dish is already quite sweet and such sausages will likely make it too sweet.

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