Pairing Cider + Food: Recommendations from Chef Evan Hanczor

An interview with Chef Evan Hanczor of Williamsburg’s Egg Restaurant

By Jimmy Carbone

Cider pairs extremely well with food so I asked Chef Evan what he recommends.

“I love opening a couple bottles of cider on Thanksgiving – it pairs well with so many things and its low alcohol content makes it great for drinking through a long day of eating. I actually just participated in a mini Hudson Valley cider tour with some chefs and cider makers, organized by Glynwood. We had some amazing local ciders from Sundstrom, Metal House Cider, Stone Ridge Orchard, Treasury, Eve’s Cidery, and some small-batch productions from Angry Orchard, and talked about how to work towards a local food and drinks culture in which cider is as commonly drank and paired as it is in places like Spain, England, Germany, and France.” 

We started with the cider: he selected a sparkling dry cider from Eve’s Cidery in the Finger Lakes

Eve’s Cidery won the 2nd Annual Beer Sessions Radio: NYC Scion Award during Cider Week NYC 2018  in recognition of being cider pioneers in the orchard-to-glass movement

Then then pairing. Chef Evan suggested creamy cauliflower soup.

“As for a pairing, I love the dry, acidic complement of cider with a creamy cauliflower soup – the acidity of the cider cuts through the richness of the soup perfectly. Here’s a recipe if you need one for the piece.”

Chef Evan’s Cauliflower Recipe 

1/4c butter

2 sliced shallots

1 head of cauliflower, cleaned of its greens and roughly chopped, including the stem (should yield about 2-2.5 quarts of cauliflower…save the greens for slicing and adding to a soup or roasting with potatoes)

4 cups water

4 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream (optional – for a lighter soup just replace with a cup of whole milk)

Salt and white pepper to taste (black pepper is okay if you prefer it or don’t have white)

Lightly brown the butter lightly in a large pot over medium heat, about 3 minutes.  Add shallots and a pinch of salt and cook 3-5 minutes over low heat until softened but not browning.  Add cauliflower and cook 1-2 minutes to soften slightly, stirring regularly.  Add all the liquids and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; season lightly again with salt, and simmer about 25-30 minutes until the cauliflower is fully tender.

Season again with salt and a pinch of white pepper.  Transfer in batches to a blender and puree to a silky smooth consistency. If the soup seems a bit too thick, add some water to thin as needed.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Keep warm over a low heat (stirring once in a while so it doesn’t scorch) if you’re not serving right away. You can also make this a day or two before, cool it after pureeing, and re-heat to serve when you’re ready.

This is great topped with a number of toppings: a simple pesto; some diced pear and crumbled pecans or toasted hazelnuts; a bit of lemon zest and minced thyme; or even a drizzle more of brown butter with a pinch of curry powder blended in.