Expert Food Pairings To Go With Your Hard Cider

Beer tastes pretty much like beer, and by now we're all used to pairing the stuff with everything from burgers to banana cream pie. Hard cider, however, poses more of a dilemma on account of its decidedly apple-y flavor. What goes well with apple juice, after all: Captain Crunch and Lunchables? As hard cider is booze, it seems better suited towards a more adult food pairing, so we at Mashed consulted with an expert: Richard Yi, who makes the stuff for Brooklyn Cider House at Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz, New York. Yi is a second-generation cider guy, as his dad, Peter Yi, is the head cider maker and co-founder of the aforementioned cidery.

As Yi tells us, "The amazing thing about ciders is that they are very diverse. Much like wine, there are certain ciders that pair better with foods than others." Many popular hard cider brands, such as Angry Orchard and Woodchuck, tend to be on the sweet side, and Yi recommends pairing them with tacos or spicy Thai dishes.

Drier European-style ciders are better suited for plainer foods

If your favorite hard cider is a European import, or one made in the European style, it may not be as sweet and apple-forward as a domestic one. As Richard Yi explains, "Many traditional English ciders have a bit more tannin to them," and this, he feels, means that they would be better suited for blander yet richer foods such as burgers or pork chops. This style of cider would also be a natural accompaniment for a classic British ploughman's lunch complete with a block of sharp cheddar cheese.

Normandy ciders, too, can be very dry, even bitter, and many of them tend to be high in tannins, as well. Here, Yi is not only keeping with a stronger cider flavor-plainer food matchup but is apparently influenced by the nationality as he recommends drinking these alongside ham and cheese crepes. Still, you may feel free to experiment with other dishes (even ones that aren't French in origin) to accompany your Normandy-style cider since, as he says, "The fun is finding different combinations that work."

These trendy Spanish-style ciders are surprisingly versatile

In recent years it seems as if Spanish ciders, specifically those from the Basque and Asturian regions, have become sufficiently popular with American cider connoisseurs that domestic cideries like the ones Richard Yi works at are trying their best to recreate the styles. Yi characterizes both types of cider as having "fresh acidity" and for this reason, he likes to pair them with steak as well as with Spanish-inspired dishes such as tortilla de bacalao (salt cod omelet) and chorizo. He even likes to cook last-named meat in cider, presumably a Spanish one. Spanish ciders go well with bean dishes, too, ranging from the famous Brazilian feijoada to Southern-style hoppin' john. (While we're not entirely sure how the latter dish got its name, it has nothing to do with antsy outhouses.)

One of the more unconventional, yet successful food pairings Yi has attempted with a Basque-style cider that his company produces involves serving it with kimchi-pork belly lettuce wraps. As he tells us, "Although this is a very traditional Korean dish ... the pairing was incredible."