Tap Those Trees; It’s Maple Syrup Season! 5 Great Uses for the Sappy Syrup

by Jakob Anderson, Food Writer

makingsyrup

All images are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent actual recipes

While you might associate March with St. Paddy’s day or March Madness (shout out to the bandwagon basketball fans), March is syrup season for the northern farming community. The sugar bushes are in full swing and the maple tapping has commenced. As a proud Canuck, I felt the need to pay respect to our most cherished export (I actually am proud of the fact we’re known for syrup; what is America known for, apple pie? Pfffffft). Don’t waste maple syrup on those pancakes (ok actually that’s delicious too) but here are some recipes really worth drizzling some sap over!

(NOTE: For all of these recipes, use real maple syrup. I swear to god, if I catch any of you using Aunt Jemima’s, I will come over there and tap your leg as if it were a damn maple tree!)

1. Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Maple and Cider Pan Sauce

Slow roasted pork shoulder

Slow roasted pork shoulder

This is in my top-three favorite all time dishes to make. Get up early on a Sunday, get it going and I promise you the results will have you praising the bovine heavens.

4-5lb pork shoulder, bone in, skin on

Salt and pepper to taste

Fennel seeds

Onion, halved

Carrot, halved

Fennel bulb, halved

1/4 cup maple syrup

Sauce:

1/2 liter (2 cups) chicken stock

1/2 cup hard apple cider

Juice from one orange

1 tsp chili flakes

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine

When purchasing the pork, ask your butcher to score the skin for you. If this option is unavailable it is not difficult to do it yourself. Run a sharp knife over the skin, creating “X”s all over the pork. Be careful not to cut so deep that it penetrates the meat.

Preheat oven to 500ºF.

Season shoulder heavily with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. Make sure you really get seasoning into those Xs you worked so hard to make! Place shoulder in an oven and stove proof pan (a Dutch oven for example) with 1 cup of water and vegetables. Place in oven uncovered and cook for 20 minutes until you see the skin start to puff up. Turn oven down to 300ºF and roast for 5 hours. You can check on it every hour or so to make sure the pan is not getting dry. If it is, just add 1/2 cup more water. Warning! Be careful not to pour any water on top of the skin or you will ruin your cracking! Also, no need to baste, this will also ruin your crackling. After 5 hours, remove from oven and take shoulder off of tray. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

While meat is resting, create the pan sauce. Heat the same pan you roasted the pork in over medium heat and add apple cider. Let reduce by half. Add stock, syrup, orange juice, chill flakes and rosemary and reduce until thick. Carve up meat and separate crackling; serve with sauce (I’m salivating like a dog writing this).

2. Maple Rosemary Focaccia with Prosciutto and Marscapone

foccacia

Foccacia with rosemary and kosher salt, just waiting for delicious toppings

I would take this over a slice of pizza any day. The syrup and prosciutto is a deadly combo – try not to eat it all of it as you assemble (but don’t feel bad if you do either).

7 cups flour

2 tsp active dry yeast

3 cups warm water (more if needed)

3/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1 cup Marscapone cheese

10 slices prosciutto (about 100g)

10 dried figs, halved

Add flour, yeast and salt to mixing bowl with paddle attachment (if you don’t have a mixer you can do this manually in a large bowl and wooden spoon). Slowly mix in water and syrup. The result should be a sticky blob; the dough is supposed to be runny and not firm. If you think it looks dry add more water.

Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil over the top of dough and cover. Let sit and rise for 4 hours; dough should double in size. Heat oven to 450ºF. Turn out dough onto large roasting tray covered with rest of oil and gently use the tips of your fingers to spread it out. Sprinkle rosemary over top.

Bake for 40 min or until bottom is very dark in color. Drizzle extra olive oil over the top once you remove it from the oven.

Spread Marscapone and figs over top of focaccia. Lay prosciutto over this and place back in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and finish with some additional syrup and olive oil.

3. Maple and Pear Olive Oil Cake with Orange and Ricotta Cream

Pears with syrup: a deadly combination

Pears with syrup: a deadly combination

This rustic, bright cake can appear like a bit of a pain to make. The reason for whipping the egg whites separate from the batter mixture is to ensure a beautiful light texture. Serve this to your grandmother and watch her dentures pop out in enjoyment.

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for egg whites

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 eggs, separated

1 vanilla bean, split and seeded

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon for egg whites

1 Tbsp cinnamon

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 pears, diced very small

Cream topping

1 cup ricotta (firm stuff)

Juice and zest from 1 orange

1/4 cup maple syrup

For cake, preheat oven to 325ºF. In a standing mixer, add egg yolk, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon, and mix with whisk attachment on medium until incorporated. Slowly add flour to this, adding a 1/4 cup at a time (you do not really have to measure, just add a little bit at a time). Once this is incorporated, in a slow stream add olive oil. Transfer this mixture into a large bowl and meanwhile wash and dry the mixing bowl.

Add egg whites and salt, and mix on high until eggs start to foam. Add the sugar and whisk on high until you achieve stiff peaks (if you swoosh a spoon through the mixture, it should remain standing). Fold the egg whites in with batter, ever so gently. Don’t worry if it looks a little marbled and the two do not totally come together. That’s what you want.

Add pears to batter. In a 9-inch greased springform pan, bake cake for approximately 50 minutes (use the toothpick test). For cream add ricotta, juice and zest to blender and blend together. Serve cake with a dollop of cream.

4. Warm and Smoky Maple Potato Salad

potatosaladThis salad might beat out your ribs at the family summer barbecue, so be careful!

15 fingerling potatoes, halved

2 onions, diced small

1 leek, diced small

1/2 celery root, peeled and chopped small

2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 Tbsp raw honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

1/8 cup maple syrup

2 Tbsp smoked dijon mustard (regular dijon works, but there are tons of great smoked mustards on the market)

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice from 1 orange

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss potatoes in salt, pepper, rosemary, half the olive oil and smoked paprika. Roast for approximately 30 minutes. On separate roasting pan add vegetables, rest of olive oil, hone, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes until caramelized. Add potatoes and vegetables to bowl. For dressing, add syrup, eggs, mustard, orange juice, cider vinegar, salt and pepper to mixer with whisk attachment (you can do this manually also). Mix until fully incorporated. Slowly drizzle in olive oil mixing on medium speed until emulsified. Toss potato salad with dressing and serve warm.

5. Maple Walnut Breakfast Bars

Maple walnut breakfast bars

Maple walnut breakfast bars

Simple and delicious way to start your day. Add anything else you want to this recipe, it’s a blank page!

1/2 cup dates, finely chopped

1/2 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup walnuts

1 1/2 cups spelt flakes, toasted

1 tsp cinnamon

Zest from 1 orange

1 Tbsp salt

Process dates and apricots in food processor (or blender, though that might be a tad more difficult) until you achieve a thick paste. Combine dates, apricots, spelt flakes and salt in bowl. In a small pan on low heat, warm maple syrup, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir in oat mixture. Pour this mixture evenly into a 8×8 baking dish and let firm up in fridge for 30 minutes. You are now free to portion your bars how you want. Keep bars wrapped and refrigerated.

Jakob Anderson is a trained cook and food enthusiast who approaches cooking as something that connects people in ways they don’t realize: “I love talking about food, eating food, thinking food, discussing food, debating food, think about debating food, fooding food? I love food.”

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