PITTSBURGH — Come on, admit it. You’re so over the pumpkin-spice craze.
Seasonal beer, coffee drinks and cookies spiced with ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon are one thing. But when those cozy fall flavors sneak their way into a Kit Kit candy bar or a stick of Burt Bees lip balm or onto a pizza, you know it’s officially jumped the shark. Big time.
Which is why some of us were glad to hear that a new flavor will supposedly supplant pumpkin spice this fall — maple.
Autumn’s crop of fruits and vegetables call for deeper, richer flavors and maple — with its vanilla, caramelly undertones — is happy to step up to the plate. While it is generally associated with breakfast items and desserts, maple can be a best friend to savory preparations, too, adding a robust flavor to roasted vegetables, soups and meats, especially bacon. It brings an all-natural sweetness to barbecue sauces, marinades, vinaigrettes, infused syrups, rubs, brines and glazes.
Not only is maple syrup high in healthful antioxidants but it also includes essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
1 shallot, finely sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup Grade A dark pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled, fresh ginger
1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus four sprigs, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 bone-in chicken thighs
3 medium pears or apples, peeled, cored and quartered
In medium bowl, whisk shallot, cider, maple syrup, ginger, vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper. Place chicken in a large resealable bag. Pour marinade into bag, seal it and refrigerate 12 to 24 hours, turning once or twice to coat all pieces.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Remove chicken from marinade and arrange pieces, skin side up, in a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Tuck pears or apples and thyme sprigs among chicken pieces. Pour marinade over top. Bake, basting occasionally, about 1 hour, until chicken is cooked through and starting to pull from bone. Serve chicken and fruit with sauce spooned over top. Makes 8 servings.
Easy Maple Turkey Breakfast Sausage
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage (not ground)
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound ground lean turkey
2 teaspoons canola oil
In small dish, combine maple syrup, sage, pepper, salt, thyme and nutmeg. Place turkey in large bowl. Sprinkle spice mixture over meat and gently mix with clean hands, to incorporate spices evenly. Divide into eight sections and shape into patties.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook, turning once; adjust heat as necessary to prevent overbrowning. Cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, until browned on both sides and cooked through (165 F on an internal thermometer). Serve hot. Makes 8 patties.