Hard ciders are all the rage right now and it’s not just because Fall is in the air. The artisanal food revolution has led to a boom in all manner of handcrafted libations: boutique wines, craft beer, handcrafted cocktails and, now, hard cider is reclaiming their rightful place in the hearts and on the palates of food and drink lovers in apple growing countries around the world.
BA Foodist Andrew Knowlton observed hard cider’s uptick two years ago. “Hard cider has a long history in America, where it’s made in various styles, from sweet to dry and still to sparkling. From colonial days onward, hard cider was sipped by almost everyone, including children: Easily made and inexpensive, it was considered cleaner than drinking water. Then Prohibition came along and all but wiped out production and consumption. Faintly sweet, bracingly tart, and with a seductive apple scent that’s often the only clue to its origin, cider is not just a surprisingly complex-tasting drink, it’s also relatively inexpensive (usually under $15 a bottle) and low in alcohol content (between 5 and 9 percent).”
For our little family unit, the week before Labor Day and the two weeks after brings one celebration after another. Mind you, I’m not complaining, but my body is. First it’s our anniversary (24 years of mostly wedded bliss this year!), then my birthday a week later, followed by College Girl’s birthday. Boom, boom, boom. Is it like this for you? Families seem to have a “season” of births and marriages – what’s your family’s season?
Any whoo, our season coincides with the beginning of football season and I’m looking for a lighter libation to pair with football fare. You guessed it, hard cider fits the bill! It’s less filling than beer and its sweet, tart flavor profile is perfect for pairing with robust foods like sausages, barbecue and rich creamy dips as well as lighter fare that you might normally pair with white wine. Stella Artois has introduced a hard cidre (yes, cidre not cider) and reached out to selected bloggers in the Glam Media Foodie.com network to suggest food pairings that complement their dry, sparkling, almost beer-like beverage kissed with apple sweetness. No problem.
Natural pairings that come to mind are cooler weather comfort foods, pork, cheese – especially firm cheeses such as aged cheddars, manchego, asiago, etc., and any dish where apples are a component – think Waldorf Salad with apples, celery and walnuts. I adore Waldorf Salad and whenever I happen to be in the vicinity of a Waldorf-Astoria Hotel I swing by to quaff a beverage with that hotel’s version of their namesake salad which has been updated through the decades and no two are alike. In fact, I had two uniquely different versions at the same Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Shanghai on the same day. True story – but that’s another post.
For my Stella Artois Cidre pairing, I riffed loosely on the Waldorf Salad and created a low-calorie, creamy chicken salad using yogurt cheese instead of mayonnaise. Sweet red Moscato grapes, crunch celery and exotic flavors of curry and coconut bring tangy, sweet and savory together in a salad that sings on a sandwich or as an appetizer with crackers, pita chips, or crispy endive and radicchio as served here.
Curry Chicken Salad with Moscato Grapes
A lower-calorie creamy chicken salad using yogurt cheese instead of mayonnaise. Sweet red Moscato grapes, crunchy celery and exotic flavors of curry and coconut bring tangy, sweet and savory together in a salad that sings on a sandwich or as an appetizer with crackers, pita chips, or cripsy endive and radicchio.
2 organic half chicken breasts, poached
1 cup water
1 cup wine
1/2 half lemon, sliced
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup Karoun Dairies Labne (kefir cheese)
1 Tablespoon coconut milk
1 Tablespoon curry powder
3/4 cup Red Moscato grapes, halved
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
Garnish: grape halves, toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds, Za’atar spice (optional)
1. Heat 1 cup water and 1 cup white wine over medium-high heat until small bubbles form. Slice the chicken breast halves into thinner pieces, add to the liquid, sprinkle with thyme and lay lemon slices on top, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken from liquid and cool. Chop into 1/2 inch chunks.
2. In a bowl, mix together the Labne, coconut milk, curry powder, celery, salt, and cayenne powder. Add the chicken chunks and grape halves and gently mix until coated with yogurt mixture. Garnish with a few grape halves on top for color. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, chia seeds, or Za’atar if desired.
Here are a few other dishes from the She’s Cookin’ archives that would marry well with hard cider:
Remember! It’s Cidre not cider.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Stella Artois via Glam Media. Any opinions expressed are entirely mine and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Stella Artois.