Last weekend, I embarked on my first apple reconnaissance mission at my favorite local market, the Green City Market. I often feel like I can't have a Chicago food conversation without a reference to this marketplace slipped in- and judging by some esteemed restaurant menus, it appears the market is the lifeblood of truly spectacular cuisine.
What better way to embark on my apple pie education than with the apple itself, which shines each fall at the market. Seedling Farms is without a doubt, my go-to fruit vendor, not only for their passion and knowledge of orchard fruits, but the sheer scope of options. You haven't experienced apples until you approach their tent and find there are subtleties in variety as widespread as wine grapes.
The goal for a good apple pie, or really any fruit dessert, is balance. A good crust is always a treat but the fruit should shine all on its own. Not too sweet, not too tart. I fell in love with the green apples pictured above, called Mutsu. After enjoying one with my lunch, I would describe it as a Granny Smith hybrid that has a thinner skin and a milder bite. The tartness is cut but a pleasant sweet flesh and mild juiciness.
I also bought some red Jonathans to sample as well. Seedling recommends the following (pie apples hold shape while apple sauce apples are very juicy and break down more easily in texture):
I have a feeling that for a contest that demands apple-only fruit pies, the choice will still be a tough one!