Breathe new life into apple cider
Marisa Renwald January 28, 2013 3:08PM
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:15AM
The unpretentious nature of an apple cider glaze is indicative of feel-good winter comfort food. It erupts with the aura of a high-brow meal, but it also settles in with the flavors of homespun American cuisine. That’s a combination that will reel you in every time it’s presented on a plate.
If apple cider is a component of upscale comfort food, then this is the season to flaunt this cuisine.
Late winter sees an accumulation of apple cider. It starts in the fall when the first frost nips the air, and our craving for the spicy sip of fresh cider starts up. But by midwinter, that same craving begins to wane. The flavors of apple and spice have become exhausted and banal, and half-gallons of the stuff begin to sour into vinegar when stowed away at the back of the fridge.
The practical thing to do is freshen up your winter flavors by using the savory side of cider. This unsung hero of American cuisine is so often typecast as a winter beverage that it sometimes get overlooked as a savory ingredient. Lightening up salad dressings, sweetening turkey stuffing and adding an earthy flavor to otherwise mundane meals, apple cider emerges from the season as one of its unprecedented ingredients.
But boiled down and concentrated into a glaze, apple cider can shine. Cider glazes takes on a completely different constitution and flavor. Although the slightest hint of the sour cider still perseveres, that classic flavor becomes just a wisp of a taste in a considerably more savory-tasting food.
This recipe for sauteed butternut squash features an apple cider glaze that coats cubes of tender squash in a sweet and tart syrup—ideal for a winter meal. Caramelized with the cider, butter and just a pinch of sugar, the squash gets a shower of fresh sage at last moment, completing the harmony of winter flavors in quite a sophisticated fashion.
Who said apple cider couldn’t go upscale? Flip your menu around and feature it in a savory role. It opens up a whole new world for gourmet comfort food.
Butternut Squash Sauté
1 small butternut squash (about 11/2 pounds), peeled and cubed
1 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup apple cider
2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
Put all the ingredients except
the sage into a large, nonstick skillet. Cover, bring to a boil,
and cook over high heat for
about 6 minutes, until the squash pieces are somewhat tender. Continue cooking,
uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is completely gone. Cook for a few minutes longer, stirring and shaking the pan to prevent the squash from burning, until the squash pieces are caramelized to your liking. Sprinkle with the sage, turn off heat, and toss until sage is coated. Serve warm.
Adapted from “More Fast Food My Way” by Jacques Pepin, 2008.