Everything Fanny prepared had a foundation in the world of Escoffier, for her he was the pinnacle for professionalism that we should all aspire for. Fanny was all about aspiration. Fanny was not aspiring you'll understand, she was already there, but she longed to inspire us, the everyday, ordinary cooks, to share her aspiration. It was also a complicated ambition, as we were meant to admire Fanny at the same time, otherwise we'd just aim straight for the Escoffier books instead of hers and Fannys sales would plummet. So she added some eagerness to it all, switched thing up a little, added a little colour here and there, and in her mind at least, she made it easier for the ordinary housewife to desire to access the grand levels that Escoffier inhabited.
Fannys aim in passing on these Poached Apples or Pommes Pochées à l'Escoffier was simply to transform the humble fruit into a dreamy dessert which would have been at home on those higher rungs of the culinary ladder. Fanny poached her apples in ever-so-English Cider, matching the crispness of the rouged up russets perfectly. I've got a yearning for something just a little different though, so I'm switching the cider for the oh-so-Scottish and oh-so-lovely Outaspace Apple Ale from Glasgow based Drygate Brewery that jumped into my trolley at the supermarket. I hope my aspirations aren't above my station.
Fanny starts by peeling the apples very carefully, very professionally. I try to do it all in one round, and I mostly manage, with only a slight tear. When I was young I am sure everyone peeled their apples before they ate them, but I was the odd one who then ate the peel. It may explain a lot. The peeled pommes are popped into a shallow-ish pan that is deep enough for them to be covered while the poaching liquor is prepared.
The poaching liquid is a heady mix of the booze, water and some fruit jelly, but I'm switching it all up again. I know, no stopping me! Fanny uses her beloved Red Currant Jelly to give the finished apples a jolt of colour, but I am using (again) my Bramble and Gin Jelly. It has a glorious colour, and taste. The jelly is mixed first with the water to dissolve it, then the ale (or cider if you like sticking to the rules) before being poured over the waiting apples. Fanny pops them over a 'thread' of a heat and leaves them until they are semi-transparent and bright pink underneath. It takes about half an hour.
They are then ready to be turned over for the topside to be tinted. I found they bobbed around a little but eventually found their way. Okay I had to wrestle them for a while with crossed fingers, not easy. Do not be tempted to turn the heat up to speed up the poaching. Fanny warns if the liquid bubbles hard the apples will collapse and the whole thing will be ruined. Be patient and you will be rewarded. Fanny says when they are 'not ruined but cooked' to lift them out, drain and place them on your chosen dish. Then, and only then, boil the liquor hard to reduce, as you would for any top level sauce, just as the great Escoffier himself did. The resulting sauce, with no added thickeners, is then poured over the Pommes Pochées and, well, scoffed like Escoffier would. Garnish with a leaf first though, above all presentation and garnish. Apples, beer, jelly and gin - these are aspirations I can easily strive for!