America’s sweet tart

A menu based on versatile, delicious apple cider.

By Adam Ried
November 1, 2009

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Apple cider, whether it’s freshly pressed and sweet or fermented and hard -- which is to say earthy, dry, fizzy, and lightly alcoholic -- is an enticing ingredient for cooking. With cider used in every course, I hope this menu offers an inkling of its complexity and sweet-tart, fruity potential in many types of dishes. In the vinaigrette, the sweetness of reduced cider offers a balance to hearty and sharp-flavored greens. A mixture of fresh cider and beer gives the pork stew an autumnal richness, while the sorbet demonstrates the full range of apple flavor you can get by incorporating both types of cider.

Double Cider Sorbet

MAKES 1½ quarts

1 cup fresh apple cider

1 large (at least 10 ounces) tart apple, such as Mutsu or Granny Smith, cut into small chunks

¾ cup sugar

2 cups hard cider

2 teaspoons fresh

lemon juice

2 teaspoons Calvados

or vodka

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, bring fresh cider to a boil over medium-high heat. Add apple, return to the boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow apple to steep until the liquid reaches room temperature.

In a medium metal mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar in the hard cider. Using a food mill or a coarse-mesh strainer, process the cooled apple liquid into the bowl with the hard cider and sugar; discard the apple skins. Add lemon juice and Calvados or vodka, stir to combine, cover the bowl, and chill until mixture reaches 35 to 40 degrees.

Following the manufacturer’s directions for your ice cream maker, churn the cider mixture until frozen (place the empty metal bowl in the freezer while the sorbet churns). Scoop the frozen sorbet into the chilled bowl, cover it, freeze until the sorbet is firm, about 2 hours, and serve.

Simple Green Salad With Cider-Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 6

Romaine lettuce, baby spinach, arugula, endive, and watercress are all good with this dressing. And try adding some combination of shaved fennel, slivered apple or pear, dried cranberries, chopped toasted nuts or pumpkin seeds, or crumbled blue or goat cheese. Or use the vinaigrette as a dressing for green beans.

½ cup fresh apple cider

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, minced

(about 3 tablespoons)

Salt and pepper

1½ tablespoons canola oil

12 cups mixed torn salad greens

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, boil the cider until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Scrape the reduced cider into a large salad bowl, add the vinegar, mustard, shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste, and whisk to combine. Vigorously whisk in the oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Add the greens, toss to coat, and serve at once.

Autumn Pork Stew With Apples, Turnips, and Mustard

Serves 6

Baking apples like Baldwin, Cortland, Golden Delicious, and Jonagold will all hold their shape in this stew.

3 slices (about 3 ounces) bacon, cut crosswise into small strips

3½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch chunks

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2tablespoons canola oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

1½ cups (1 bottle) lager beer

1 cup fresh apple cider

½ pound baby carrots

5 small (3 inches or less) turnips (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into ¾-inch wedges

2 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¾-inch wedges

1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large, heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, fry the bacon until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and drain the bacon, leaving the fat in the pot. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the pork with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the flour to coat, and set aside.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add half of the pork in a single layer (do not crowd), and cook without moving until deeply browned on the bottom, about 3½ minutes. Turn the pieces and cook, again without moving, until second side is deeply browned, about 3½ minutes longer. Remove pork to a clean medium bowl, add a tablespoon of oil to the pot, and repeat with the rest of the pork, reducing the heat if the drippings begin to burn.

Return the pot to medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil, and add the onions. Cook until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the beer and cider, increase the heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, scrape any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked pork with accumulated juices, submerge it in the liquid, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover pot, and simmer until the pork is tender, 1½ to 2 hours.

Tip the pot and spoon off as much fat as possible. Add the carrots and turnips, submerge them in the liquid, cover the pot, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are just becoming tender, about 15 minutes. Add the apples, submerging them in the liquid, cover the pot, and continue cooking until carrots, turnips, and apples are all tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add the mustard and most of the parsley and stir to mix, taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, and serve at once, sprinkling each portion with some of the cooked bacon and the remaining parsley.

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