Apple cider lends lively flavor to a host of dishes
But don't stop at sipping. Versatile apple cider can be used in recipes sweet and savory.
When customers buy apples for applesauce at Westview Orchards and Adventure Farm in Washington Township, Mich., Katrina Schumacher advises them to cook down the apples in cider instead of water.
“It's a way to get more flavor into the applesauce and use less sugar,” she said.
Schumacher, a sixth generation co-owner of the farm, says cider also is great blended into smoothies with other fruits or used for slushes and popsicles. But marinating is one of the most popular uses of cider other than drinking, the cider makers say.
Richard Koziski of Dexter Cider Mill says cider makes an excellent tenderizer in marinades.
“Cider will make any meat tender,” said Koziski. “It's a great tenderizer for venison, as it really breaks down the gaminess of it.”
Nancy Steinhauer, Koziski's daughter and owner of the mill, cooks ribs directly in cider, a recipe from her sister Julie Black.
“They just cook in the cider, which breaks them down nicely and tenderizes them,” Steinhauer said.
She also cooks steel-cut oatmeal in a slow-cooker with apple cider. “I like that you can make it ahead, love the apple flavor, and it's easy,” she said.
You can also boil cider down to intensify the flavor and thicken . Brush the sweet glaze on pork loin or tenderloin, poultry and vegetables, or serve it as a syrup.
Serves: 8. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Total time: 1 hour 2 cups apple cider 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-by-1/4-inch sticks 3 large parsnips, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-by-1/4-inch sticks 2 medium onions, peeled, quartered, then cut each quarter in half across the center 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Place the cider in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes or until reduced by about half.
Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables and place them in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and toss to coat. Drizzle cider over vegetables. Scatter butter pieces over the top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cover tightly with foil and bake until vegetables are almost crisp-tender, about 25 minutes.
Remove foil and stir vegetables to coat with the pan juices. Bake uncovered about 15 minutes or until vegetables brown and some of the juices evaporate. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl along with accumulated juices. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Adapted from www.epicurious.com.
Nutrition information: 167 calories (26 percent from fat), 5 grams fat (2 grams sat. fat), 30 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 276 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol, 5 grams fiber .
Chicken Thighs with Apples & Cider Sauce
Serves: 4 (2 thighs each). Preparation time: 10 minutes (plus brining time) . Total time: 1 hour You also can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe.
They will take less time to cook.
8 chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat 4 cups apple cider 2 tablespoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon black pepper
Favorite all-purpose seasoning 2 teaspoons canola oil 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 4 small apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick 1 cup apple cider 3/4 cup half-and-half mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch Salt and pepper to taste Place the chicken thighs in a plastic sealable bag. Mix together 4 cups apple cider and salt until it dissolves; add the pepper. Pour cider mixture over chicken thighs, making sure the cider covers the thighs. Seal bag and set in another dish. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Season thighs all over with all-purpose seasoning Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat.
Working in batches if needed, place chicken thighs, skin side down, in the skillet and cook until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and place, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.
Meanwhile, pour off the fat in the skillet or wipe it out. Add the butter and melt. Add the apple slices and saute until they just start to caramelize. Remove apples to a plate. Add the apple cider to the skillet and bring to a boil, scrap ing up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet.
Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in the half-and-half mixed with cornstarch. Continue heating, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season sauce, if desired, with salt and pepper. Serve the two chicken pieces with apples and a few tablespoons of sauce.
Nutrition information: 366 calories (50 percent from fat), 20 grams fat (7 grams sat. fat), 27 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 667 mg sodium, 88 mg cholesterol, 2 grams fiber .
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