Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hard Cider Companion

I went to the Ciderfest wanting to find my favorite local cider. Instead, I walked away with a new-found allegiance to Eric Bordelet—a cider maker and sommelier from Normandy, France.

I did taste some great local ciders (Westcott Bay, Finn River), but Bordelet’s Brut Cider was without a doubt my favorite, and that of my cider-tasting companions. It was caramely—not caramely-sweet but caramely-roasted—and complex. The bubbles were tiny, and there was just the right amount of them. And upon tasting, we immediately launched into a discussion about what foods it should be enjoyed with.

So last night for dinner, inspired by my quest to make a meal that should be eaten with Bourdelet’s Brut, a gallon-sized ZipLoc bag full of fresh tarragon from my friend’s garden, and a great butternut squash panzanella that I had at Smith last Thursday, I made (and ate) the following. It's excellent with hard cider, and would be a nice meal with a rustic terrine.

Delicata Squash with Fried Bread, Tarragon, and Escarole
Serves two.

1 medium delicata squash
8-10 large escarole leaves
4 slices crusty bread
¼ cup toasted pecans
½ cup fresh tarragon leaves
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for cooking
1 t champagne vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 T currants, soaked in warm water

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and cut ¼ inch slices to make crescent moons. Toss them in olive oil, spread them out on a baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and cayenne.
  • Soak the escarole in cold water for about 10 minutes, drain and dry, and tear into bite-sized pieces.
  • Tear the bread into pieces. Heat 3 T olive oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Add the bread and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is crispy with some browned edges, but not smoking. Remove from heat and toss with salt.
  • Mix ¼ cup olive oil, vinegar and mustard to make the vinaigrette.
  • Toss all the ingredients and serve. 

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