Here on the Sunshine Coast we’re fortunate enough to have 2 cideries plus a microbrewery producing high quality ciders. A further demonstration of how vibrant our little stretch of land is to be able to make craft beverages from locally sourced fruit. I’ve not always been a fan of hard cider. Oft times too sweet / simple or in the case of some you’d try from France or Spain, FUNKY. FUNG-KEE! But times have changed. Much like the push we’ve seen with microbreweries over the past several years getting creative and raising the bar, so too are we seeing it with cider producers.
While common knowledge in the UK, seldom is its versatility as an ingredient for cooking highlighted in our part of the world. Maybe Coast culinary Collective can do a little something to shed light in that department.
More often I tend to utilize cider for Autumn cooking but I’ve thought to broaden my palate and my thinking here. In just the briefest of glances on Google, I saw roughly 200 recipes. Main courses, soups, vegetable sides and desserts aplenty. Looking closer I can see many of those dishes were with a focus on “Fall Cuisine”. But if you start to think about some of the ingredients which are in season right now, cider in food is completely appropriate.
Here are a few things you can try at home, all with product you can source nearby. Of course you should pair them with your favourite local cider.
Jalapeño Pitcher Ciderita
A Marguerita is my absolute favourite cocktail and this is a great riff on it.
Recipe courtesy of Dish Works and Cider Culture
- 1/2 cup simple syrup
- 2 jalapeños, sliced
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 cup silver tequila
- 2 cups hard cider (perhaps consult your local cider purveyor as to their choice of wares)
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Kosher salt, for serving
- Ice, for serving
- Combine simple syrup, sliced jalapeño, lime juice, tequila and hard cider in large pitcher. This can be done ahead of time, the longer the mixture sits, the spicier it will be. Stir prior to serving.
- Coat rim of serving glasses with lime. Spread salt in small, shallow dish and dip glass rims in to coat. Fill glasses with ice and top with cider mixture.
Ginger Cider Granita
Being we’re a coastal community, oysters tend to figure largely in our dining culture and are typically served with granitas or mignonettes . Here’s an easy topping for you home shuckers. Once again courtesy of Dish Works and Cider Culture.
- 12 ounces hard cider
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Pinch salt
- Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour contents of blender into wide metal or glass dish and place in freezer.
- Every 30 minutes, remove dish and scrape juice with fork. Return to freezer and repeat until juice turns into solid ice crystals.
- Serve with the freshly shucked oysters
Finding shellfish these past few months has been difficult due to Covid but they’re coming back now. Time to dive in. This recipe has come through a roundabout of sources and is a version of a clam dish that would normally use white wine. You sub in cider in it’s place.
Courtesy of David Britton of Bad Seed Cider via Food 52
- 4 dozen local clams, cleaned and scrubbed
- 2 sweet Italian sausages (about 10oz), casing removed and meat separated into small pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1/2 of small fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)
- 5 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups dry cider
- 3/4 cup sweeter cider
- 10 large fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, until soft, for about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, celery and fennel and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the sausage meat and cook for another 5 minutes, until the meat is nicely browned.
- Add the wine (both dry and sweet) and bring to boil. Add the tarragon.
- Add the clams, cover with a lid and cook, shaking the saucepan from time to time, until the clams are open, for about 6 minutes.
- Add the heavy cream, gently shake the saucepan to mix, and simmer over low heat uncovered, for another 2-3 minutes.
- Spoon the clams into bowls or soup plates. Stir the parsley into the broth, season with pepper and then pour over the clams. Serve with fresh bread.
Mussels with Cider & Bacon
This is about as classic as it gets. We have a shorter window right now while local mussels are at their best. Once it starts getting too warm they need to be sourced from elsewhere.
This recipe was adapted from BBC Good Food. Great culinary resource.
- small knob butter
- 6 strips bacon, chopped, or a 140g piece, cut into small cubes
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- small bunch thyme, leaves stripped
- 1½ kg mussels, scrubbed and bearded
- glass of cider, about 150 ml (I prefer one that’s a bit fruiter)
- 2 tbsp crème fraîche (optional)
- PREPARATION: Raw mussels MUST be alive when you cook them, so careful preparation is key. Wash them under cold running water until it runs clear, and scrub if necessary. Pull the ‘beard’ away from each individual mussel – this is the byssus thread, a protein the mussel ‘spins’ so it can attach itself to rock or rope. Drain and then check; if the shell is tightly shut, this is a good indication that it’s alive. If the mussel is open, tap it sharply for a few seconds – if it is alive, it will close. Discard any that appear to be dead as they can decompose very rapidly, and eating one that you aren’t sure of is not worth the risk. Don’t check them too far in advance; cook within a few minutes to be on the safe side.
- Heat the butter in a pan large enough to easily fit the mussels, then fry the bacon for 4 mins, turning occasionally until it starts becoming crisp. Throw in the shallots and thyme leaves, then cook for 1 min until softened. Whack the heat up to maximum and add the mussels to the pan, then pour over the cider. Place the lid on the pan, give it a good shake, then cook the mussels for 5-7 mins, shaking the pan occasionally, until all the mussels have opened. Discard any that haven’t.
- Use a slotted spoon to scoop the mussels into bowls and place the pan back on the heat. Bring the juices to the boil and stir in the crème fraîche, if using. Pour the sauce over the mussels. Serve with hunks of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.
Cider, Mustard and Herb Chicken
Just one more demonstration of the versatility of cider in cooking. This one is also an adaptation from BBC Good Food.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 750g skinless and boneless chicken thigh, cut into large chunks
- 2 onions, thickly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 400ml medium dry cider
- 175g crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- half a bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- few thyme sprigs, leaves picked, about ½ tbsp
- Heat the oil in a large lidded non-stick pan (we used a wide, high-sided frying pan) and cook the chicken for 3-4 mins on each side until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon, then add the onions to the pan. Cook for 3 mins, then stir in the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Pour in the cider and bring to the boil. Return the chicken to the pan, cover with a lid and simmer for 10 mins.
- After 10 mins, remove the lid and stir in the crème fraîche, mustard and herbs. Bubble for another 5 mins, then season.
Beer Can Chicken – “Ciderized”
Last one and it screams summer. There are a ton of versions of this on the net so adapt it to your taste. The key things are the chicken and the way the cider will flavour it whilst keeping it moist. Choose canned the cider you like or if you can’t get it in a can, buy a beer, drink the beer and pour the cider in.
1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub or use Paprika/ smoked Paprika/ Cumin, etc
1/2 can cider
- Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.
- Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.
- Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
- Serve with more cider