WOOHOO! Hard Cider Season!

With autumn comes the traditional trip to Murphy Orchards in Burt, NY for apple picking. For me, Fall also signals the time of year when I tend to rotate to my favorite choice of beverage for this beautiful and vibrant season: Hard Cider! Just the sound of it makes tendrils of drool form at the corners of my mouth. Mmmmmm ciiiider (ala Homer Simpson).

There are some great hard ciders out there and each has its own unique flavor and kick. As with any beverage, your choice will be determined by your own palate and preference. The ones I identify as my personal favorites are from the Green Mountain Beverage family of products. They are the makers of Cider Jack, Woodchuck, Strong Bow, Woodpecker Hard Ciderand my all-time personal favorite, Woodpecker. Some may argue that others out there are better, but I find that these particular ciders fit my taste buds like a glove. I’m not a cider snob by any means; I just know what I like when I taste it.

I’ve also experimented using hard cider in cooking. It really enhances the flavor. For example, here’s what I cooked up for dinner last night:

1 – 2 fresh-picked small or medium apples
1 pear, skinned
1 tbsp margarine
1 – 2 cups Hard Apple Cider
½ – 1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of pepper
½ tsp fresh garlic, chopped
2 – 3 freshly grilled chicken breasts

Sautée apple(s) and skinned pear in margarine in a medium sized pan until golden brown. Add Hard Apple Cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and chopped fresh garlic. Let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes to soften the fruit, stirring occasionally. Fruit should be soft, but not mushy. Serve hot over fresh grilled chicken.

The pairing of grilled chicken and the sweet, fresh fruit is irresistible! (Anyone who’s had Aidell’s Chicken-Apple Sausage can attest to the great combination of these two flavors.) The awesome smell that will fill your kitchen and your house as you sautée the apples is reason enough to cook this – very homely, warm and welcoming! Of course, when you’re ready to wolf down the chicken, you’ve just got to have a nice, ice-cold bottle of hard cider to wash it all down and to further enhance the entire flavor experience. Give it a shot. I’m sure you’ll agree

Bon Appétit!


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