It’s the season for fresh-pressed apple cider. Cider is more than a beverage; it also makes a great ingredient, and works well with other seasonal foods.
Chowhounds love apple cider paired with butternut squash. HeyDeliciousBlog microwaves chopped butternut squash in cider until almost fork-tender, then strains and finishes by roasting in the oven; meanwhile, add maple syrup to the cider and reduce, then purée the squash and reduced syrup together. blinknoodle thinks this roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette is wonderful, and davmar77 loves butternut squash soup with cider cream.
Ham and cider are a great combination. nsstampqueen scores the fat on a ham, studs it with cloves, places it in a deep roasting pan, pours cider over the top, and bakes, basting occasionally. morwen adds mixed dried fruits to the pan, which poach in the cider and the ham’s juices. RGC1982 uses cider with a spiral-sliced ham: Mix brown sugar and cider and pour over the ham, being sure to get it between the slices, cover with foil, and heat. RGC1982 likes to add sliced apples to the pan halfway through.
magiesmom braises chicken in cider with onions and prunes: Dredge chicken parts in flour and brown in olive oil. Remove from the pan and brown the onions in the same pan, then deglaze with cider. Return the chicken to the pan, add prunes and cider to half the depth of the pan, and bake for an hour at 325°F. Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce the sauce on the stovetop before serving.
On the sweet side, use cider in any spiced quick bread or muffin recipe that calls for water; use cider for part of the liquid when cooking steel-cut oats; or boil cider down to a syrup and use as a condiment.