Chef Paul Penney explains love for Michigan grown apples

Michigan Apples are a delicious choice for eating fresh or cooked in your favorite recipes. Chef Paul Penney, who works with the Michigan Apple Committee on in-store demos, conventions and in recipe development, is an Australian-turned-Michigander who knows Michigan grows something special he can use in just about any dish.

michiganapple “There isn’t just one Michigan Apple that I love to cook with — because they each have a flavor profile that adds so much dimension to my dishes, I love to use several types.  When doing a braised pork dish you look for sweet and sour notes that Fuji, Honeycrisps can bring. Jonamacs add a little extra tang. Golden Delicious adds a sweet sauciness to help thicken the dish,” said Penney.  “One of my favorite desserts to make is the Chai Apple Crisp that we have been doing for folks at our store demos. I use a mix of apples but tend to go heavy with Honeycrisp and add a mix of Red Delicious and Golden Delicious to add some sauciness to the mix.  The best part is as the season starts with Paula Reds – I can make the same dessert but with a different taste profile with all of the seasonal apples that start popping up!  It’s magic.”

Michigan Apples provides usage and flavor information on its website at http://www.michiganapples.com/Recipes/Usage-Chart, so customers can select the variety that matches their tastes. Chef Paul has advice for cooks working with Michigan Apples, and some insight and what tastes best.

“Don’t be shy when cooking or baking with Michigan Apples," he said. "Allow the wonderful spectrum of tastes to flavor your dish. It really bugs me when I taste an apple pie and it all tastes the same — I want to get different notes from every bite. I want creaminess of the sauce and the chunks of crisp apple as I eat. I can honestly say that apples grown locally usually taste great. However a New Zealand apple here in Michigan just doesn’t taste the same. We are so lucky to have such a plethora of apple varieties within miles of where we live.”

Chef Paul Penney conducts in-store demonstrations with Michigan Apple retailers and can be seen at the PMA Fresh Summit in October. He is a certified personal chef, and studied at Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Canada and Culinary Institute of America – Napa Valley. A native of Australia, he has lived in Michigan since 1980 and has worked with Michigan Apples for 12 years.

Interestingly, Chef Penney’s favorite thing about Michigan Apples is not just their flavor.

“Behind every apple that you buy and eat, is a family who have dedicated their lives to producing the very best local treat and commodity we have here in our own back yard," he said. "These folks are our neighbors — our fellow Michiganders and their success is our success. I want to support them not just for their growth but their sustainability."

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan Apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit www.MichiganApples.com.

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