Earth Log: May 21, 2086
Okay, it’s not 2086 but it’s starting to feel like every day in isolation is a year! All I know is that I am anxiously looking forward to this year’s apple harvest so I can go pick apples in the orchard. The problem, I still have decades to go at the current rate!
It’s a good thing my wife is a superb cook and creative thinker. I would have thought that after a couple months of isolation and eating three superb meals a day, I’d need to buy new cloths. I don’t. But, that is probably because besides cooking extremely healthy food, she also has been exploring a lot of vegetarian dishes. This created an interesting challenge for me. How well does hard cider pair with vegetarian dishes? The answer: extremely well.
Let’s take a look at a modern American comfort food, nachos. However, these nachos are vegetarian. Wait, keep reading, you will want to make these, I promise. Okay, what about the hard cider pairing? Well one came to mind that was like I purposely made it just for this meal. So what are these “to die for” nachos? How about street corn nachos? And, the hard cider? How does Cranperry Sour sound? Forget how they sound. Check out how they look!
These nachos are spicy, and completely vegetarian. That’s right, there isn’t any meat in these scrumptious pieces of goodness. But, you will never realize it when you are putting these babies away. It didn’t hit me until I was over halfway through them. The hard cider is really a perry because it’s made with Asian pears and cranberries. It has some sour elements to it, which works really well with the spicy candied jalapeños, creamy avocado, salty cheese, and sweet corn of the nachos. I made this with a partial wild ferment followed by an inoculation of commercial yeast. It’s one of my experiments that turned out well, but I’m not sure I can reproduce it (even with all my notes). However, think Basque Spanish cidre or a cider made with a Brett yeast culture. There are a good number of sour ciders out there that would be great replacements. However, let’s tackle the nachos first and then we can explore the hard cider.
Street Corn Nachos
Servings: 6 Serving
3 cups roasted organic corn
1 organic jalapeño, diced
1/4 cup organic mayonnaise
1 teaspoon organic chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoons organic chili powder
3/4 teaspoon organic smoked paprika
1 organic lime, zest and juice
1/2 teaspoon salt and
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
12 ounce bag organic tortilla chips
16 ounces organic pepper jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces organic feta cheese, crumbled
1 small organic avocado (1/2 large), cubed
1/4 cup organic candied jalapeños
1/4 cup organic sour cream
- Preheat oven to 400F (205C)
- Line a baking sheet (~10×18 inches 25x48cm) with aluminum foil or grease the sheet
- Mix roasted corn, jalapeño, mayonnaise, chipotle and chili powder, paprika, lime juice and lime zest, salt and pepper
- Note: You can roast your corn using 1 tablespoon of butter in a chicken fryer and sautéing the corn until it is darkened
- Place tortilla chips in a single layer on the lined baking sheet
- Top the chips with half the pepper jack and feta cheeses
- Add the corn mixture on top
- Sprinkle the remaining cheeses
- Note: We often make two pans with this amount so it depends on how dense you like your nachos goodies
- Place into oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until the pepper jack cheese is melted.
- Top with avocado, candied jalapeños, and dollops of sour cream
- Note: Candied jalapeños are like butter, milk, salt, pepper… it’s a staple in our house, which means the refrigerator always has a jar of them in it. If you don’t have, you could use pickled jalapeño or freshly sliced but you really should make a jar because sweet and heat is the king of all pairings!
Sour Hard Cider
Okay, so I don’t really have a recipe that I can share for Cranperry Sour. I made it from the last harvest and it was one of those times when I scratch my head and wonder how I manage it. It was a bunch of undersized Asian pears, think golf ball sized, that I got for free. They weren’t acidic but I went ahead and pitched them by themselves. They stopped fermenting after about two weeks and I added cranberry juice and more yeast and let that ferment. Then I racked it off and let it age for almost 8 months in a keg. I force carbonated it and bottled it. In that process, it got some funk. I taste it as acetic acid but it’s never changed after all those months. It reminds me of some of the Spanish Sidras that I have had, but the cranberries gives it some acid and astringency and it shows that it has a decent level of residual sugar that never fermented out of it.
It’s the balance of a little sugar with the tart, astringent, and sour notes that make it work. It’s one of my wife’s favorites yet interesting enough she likes Spanish Sidra less than I do. I have not used a Brett yeast on a hard cider (mostly, because sour is still a taste I need to develop), but that is what those who like making sours use. If someone has a great sour hard cider recipe, let me know and I will give it a try. As an alternative, here are several hard ciders with some sour notes. Some like Sidra Bere are quite dominated by the sour while other like Hoboken Station blend in some sour notes with more phenolic elements. All of these are distributed widely though you might have to look at your local wine or bottle shop. They would all make great alternatives to my Cranperry Sour. However, if you have a sour hard cider that you think would work well, please post!
Skin Contact by Botanist & Barrel
Berry Barrel Sour by Finnriver
Sagardo Naturuala by Isastegi
Hoboken Station by Oyster River Winegrowers
Sidra Bere by Bereziartua
Did you enjoy this article? Follow me so you can get more ides on pairing hard ciders with food as well as ideas and tips for making and experiencing hard cider. Also, if you want to learn more about making hard cider, get my book. It covers all things hard cider as well as food and cider pairings like above.