Adapted from Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lovers Treasury of Classics and Improvisations by Jayne Cohen (Wiley)
Yield: About 2 cups
Cardamom and cinnamon play up the spicy notes in the pomegranate molasses here, making this a delicious complement to poultry and meats, especially briskets and pot roasts, and to latkes.
- About 1 1/2 cups pure, unsweetened apple juice
- 1 or 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the side of a flat knife or kitchen mallet (use the larger amount for a more pronounced aromatic spiciness; 1 pod will make a difference)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- About 2 pounds flavorful apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into chunks (6 cups; if you are going to puree the sauce in a food processor instead of using a food mill or strainer, peel the apples; choose a mixture of apples with sweet but complex flavors to echo the character of the sauce, such as Braeburn, Gala, and Stayman Winesap, rather than tart varieties; look for fresh, local apples if possible)
- About 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
In a 6-quart Dutch oven or wide heavy saucepan large enough to accommodate all of the apples, combine the juice, cardamom, cinnamon, and a generous pinch of salt. Boil uncovered, over high heat, until the liquid is reduced by about half. Add the apples, mix well to coat with juice, and simmer, covered, until they are very tender, about 25 minutes depending on the variety of apples. Stir them from time to time, and if necessary, add a bit more juice to prevent sticking.
The sauce should be thick and pulpy with little liquid visible. If necessary, boil it down for a few minutes, uncovered. Pick out and discard the cardamom and cinnamon. Put the sauce through a food mill or force it through a colander or strainer to remove the skins. Or if you used peeled apples, process in a food processor until smooth or leave somewhat chunky, according to preference.
Transfer the sauce to a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses and taste. Add a little more if you want the sauce tarter. (If this is your first time using pomegranate molasses, you may want to start with less.)
You can serve the sauce chilled, but it is also excellent at room temperature or warm from the pot with briskets, pot roasts, or latkes.
Cook's Note: You can use this recipe as a guide, omitting or supplementing the pomegranate molasses and spices with your own aromatic additions such as a strip of lemon, orange, or tangerine zest, a few prunes, or even peppercorns. Combine these seasonings with the juice--or try a fruitier, unsweetened juice such as cranberry- or raspberry-apple. Taste the finished sauce and adjust for sweetness.