Nachos & Hard Cider: Burnt Ends


We don’t eat a lot of red meat but there are a few holidays where it’s the center piece of the meal. Christmas dinner is one of those and it is built around me cooking a bone-in prime rib. How is this related whatsoever to nachos and hard cider? Well, we always cook a little extra prime rib and we always save out the ribs and the small little pieces for a second meal we call burnt ends. My wife slow cooks these with some of her homemade sweet and spicy BBQ sauce. However, that still doesn’t explain nachos and hard cider. Well, after we have the prime rib for Christmas, and after we have the ribs and small “burnt” end pieces, there is usually still enough left to create our tasty Burnt Ends BBQ Nachos.

My tender herb and horseradish crusted prime rib gets an extra layer of sweet and heat from a Kansas City style BBQ sauce. The last little nubblets, (a.k.a. burnt ends) are the perfect topping for some hot and cheesy nachos. If you are not looking to recycle your prime rib three times to make these, Cook some beef ribs in a slow cooker or crock pot with BBQ sauce and use some for this recipe. For these nachos, I paired it with my Bubbles Cider. Bubbles is a champagne cider formed when one of my residual sweetness experiments failed. The result is a bubbly hard cider with champagne level carbonation (think 6+ volumes CO2). The nachos with the beef, cheese, and avocado give them an unctuous flavor and this crisp cider does an excellent job cleaning the palate. It might be champagne in carbonation level but it still pours and looks good in a pint glass.

  • Nachos: BBQ Burnt Ends, Corn and Avocado
  • Bubbles Hard Cider

Burnt Ends BBQ Nachos

Burnt Ends BBQ Nachos: Picture Perfect
Burnt Ends BBQ Nachos: Picture Perfect

Servings: 4-5 Serving

Ingredients: BBQ Ribs/Burnt Ends

4-6 beef ribs, coated in dry rub
1 cup BBQ sauce

Steps: Burnt Ends

  • Place ribs in slow cooker or crockpot
  • Add BBQ sauce to cooker
  • Cook low heat for 8 hours
  • Remove and shred 2 cups of “burnt end” pieces for nachos

Ingredients: Nachos

2 cups BBQ burnt ends, shredded
9-12 oz. bag corn tortilla chips
1 cup cooked sweet corn
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 avocado, diced
3 tablespoons Kansas City style BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought).
Greek yogurt

Steps: Nachos

  • Turn the oven to 400F (205C)
  • Place the chips on a large foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle corn and burnt ends over chips
  • Sprinkle pepper jack cheese over the chips and heat until melted (5-7 minutes)
  • Top nachos with avocado and several dollops of Greek yogurt
  • Drizzle with BBQ sauce
  • Serve Immediately

Bubbles Hard Cider

Bubbles Cider Label
Bubbles Cider Label

It’s a Pet Nat hard cider. I did not disgorge this so it has some sediment/fine lees and I just bottle aged it on these. This hard cider was originally intended to have residual sweetness. I attempted to arrest a fermentation by racking it with approximately 10 points of sugar remaining. The goal was to use cold to drop out yeast and high pressure to burst the cell walls and kill any remaining yeast. Yeast have been shown to be killed at 103 psi but the process starts at lower pressure levels. I tried 60 psi, which worked on an earlier batch but I filtered that batch before applying the pressure. Regardless, I bottled this in champagne bottles and watched to see what happened. While I didn’t get the residual sweetness I sought, I still got an exceptional hard cider. It’s sparkling, dry with a nice tartness and apple aroma. It has good palate cleansing acids but not a lot of phenolic compounds as I didn’t use peels in this experimental cider. I don’t have a recipe post yet for this cider though you could mimic it simply by making a dry cider from apples like Granny Smith and either bottling early for a Pet Nat hard cider or force carbonating to a very high level. Here are some potential replacement ciders you could substitute to make a great pairing.

En Chêne by Prickly Apple Cider

‘En Chêne Hard Cider
‘En Chêne Hard Cider

Dry Organic by Dunkertons

Dunkertons Dry Organic Cider
Dunkertons Dry Organic Cider

Cidre Cuvée Nectar by Julien Thurel

Julien Thurel Cidre Cuvée Nectar-2016: Bubbling and Complex
Julien Thurel Cidre Cuvée Nectar-2016: Bubbling and Complex

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.

Want more wonderful food and hard cider pairing ideas, check these out!

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