Fried onions and apples was the favorite dish of Alamanzo Wilder. For those of you who led literarily deprived childhoods, and don't know who Alamanzo was, he was the husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of the Little House Books. I adored the Little House Books when I was a child, and I still adore them as an adult. One winter, on Sunday afternoons, I read the whole series all the way through to my kids, and when we finally finished The Happy Golden Years, her last book, we started over again with Little House in the Big Woods.
Alamanzo shows up first as a child in Farmer Boy. I read that book so many times, I had practically committed it to memory. Partly it must have been because Alamanzo was a boy, and I had no interest whatever in being a girl in those years. Partly it was because of the food. The characters ate the most fantastic amount of food. "Shiny, quivering slices of ham, great bowls of fluffy mashed potatoes, mashed pumpkin, pickles, bread and butter, and pie." My mother, who had also grown up with the Little House Books, said they needed that much food to keep warm.
Anyhow, I made the fried onions and apples to take to the monthly potluck organized by my husband's church. The members started these dinner circles about seven or eight years ago, with the aim of getting to know people better. The members are almost always a fascinating group of people and a very good time is had by all.
This time, the hostess was making sort of paella, with pasta instead of rice. My husband said the onions and apples would go fine with that, so I made it. I only have 29 recipes left in the Northeast section for vegetables, etc. Many of them are distinctly idiosyncratic, such as sauteed dandelion flowers, and a concoction called Samp and Beans, which is navy beans, salt pork, an onion and two cans of coarse pearl hominy.
So I was grateful for the normality of fried apples and onions, and so was the hostess, who liked it so much she kept an extra helping to eat later.
Fried Onions and Apples
1/3 cup diced salt pork
4 tart apples (I used Granny Smith.)
2 large onions, thinly sliced and separated into rings.
1/4 cup water, approximately
1. Cook the salt pork in a heavy skillet until crisp. Remove bits (of salt pork) and reserve.
2. Core the apples, leave skin on and slice into one-half-inch rings. Place in the fat remaining in the skillet. Scatter the onion rings over the apples. Cook five minutes. Add one-quarter cup water, cover and cook until appleas and onions are tender, adding more water during cooking if necessary. Sprinkle with reserved pork bits. Makes six servings.