Serves 6 to 8 Total time 1 hour 25 minutes
Why this recipe works: We wanted an exemplary apple crisp—a lush (but not mushy) sweet-tart apple filling covered with truly crisp morsels of topping. Our first few crisps contained unevenly cooked apples; stirring the fruit helped solve the texture problem, but reaching into a hot oven to do so was a hassle. Instead, we softened the apples on the stovetop—in a skillet. The shallow, flared pan also encouraged evaporation, browning, and better flavor overall. To improve the flavor further, we turned to apple cider, reducing it to a syrupy consistency. As for the topping, we added brown sugar to the white to play up the apples’ caramel notes, and swapped out some flour for rolled oats to give the topping character and chew. Chopped pecans not only improved the crunch factor, but added a rich flavor as well. If your skillet is not ovensafe, prepare the recipe through step 3 and then transfer the filling to a 13 by 9‑inch baking dish; top the filling as directed and bake for 5 minutes longer than the times given in the recipe. We like Golden Delicious apples in this recipe, but Honeycrisp or Braeburn apples can be substituted; do not use Granny Smith apples. While old-fashioned rolled oats are preferable in this recipe, quick oats can be substituted; do not use instant oats. Serve with vanilla ice cream.