How do you use your hard apple cider?



Many years ago a friend gave me some fermented apple cider from Normandy, saying that I might like it. That, and the manner in which he narrated stories of apples and the local culture became a reason why I wanted to visit Normandy. A few years later, when I arrived there, my first meal - dinner at a small countryside bed and breakfast – much to my excitement, started with a bottle of local cidre, fermented cider made from the pressed juice of local apples. This remained the drink of choice instead of wine.

During conversations with the hostess of the bed and breakfast, it became clear very quickly that cidre was more than a beverage, it formed an integral part of many traditional Norman dishes.

Fermented apple cider

Here’s a method to make chicken with cider or poulet au cidre:

Chicken: cut into medium-sized pieces

Cider: dry fermented apple cider

Bacon: cut into small longitudinal pieces


Calvados: or any other brandy

Onions: diced



Fingerling potatoes


In a heavy bottom pot, sauté bacon pieces to a light crisp and retain some of the rendered fat. Transfer bacon to a plate for later use. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and then using the rendered fat from the bacon and some butter if needed, sauté to a golden brown color. Remove chicken pieces from the pot, sauté some onions, return chicken to the pot and carefully flambé or light aflame with some calvados. Once the flames die down, cover chicken with cider, bring to a boil and then cook covered at a light simmer for about an hour or so. In the meantime, sauté mushrooms and boil potatoes, seasoning both with salt. Once the chicken is done, add some cream, adjust seasoning, bring to a boil and then take the pot off the heat. Serve chicken with sauce along with the mushrooms and potatoes.

Driving home from work, I pass by a small cidery that is easier to miss than to notice. After spotting it recently, and thinking about it, I decided to visit and learned that it made fermented cider in the Normandy style using local apples, both the culinary kind and those grown specifically for hard cider-making. It also had a small bar where people gathered to taste, to drink, and even to refill brown glass jars with the cider on tap to take home.

Hard cider has been a part of American history since the time the country was discovered1  and it was popular enough to be featured in William Henry Harrison's 1840 presidential campaign: "log cabins and hard cider"1. However, it seems to have lost popularity for a long period of time until recently.

My friend and I still drink hard cider, especially during Fall; we still talk about apples, Normandy, and America; and along the way, I begin to wonder what enables cider to become a part of a region's cooking culture?


Poulet au cidre or chicken in cider sauce



1. Cider, hard and sweet: history, traditions and making your own by Ben Watson



12 thoughts on “How do you use your hard apple cider?

    1. Bala

      Post author

      Hi Lis,

      I like the hard cider I use to make the dish also as a drink accompaniment, both while preparing the dish and eating it.

      Hope you've been well.


  1. Bala

    Post author

    Facebook comment from reader, Sachin Sankar:

    I have become interested in English cider I just love the variety of the single Apple ciders but still my favourite is the Apple fall ciders
    And pork roasted with cider gravy is a match made in heaven.

  2. Bala

    Post author

    Facebook comment from reader, Aruna Vedula:

    I once had apple cider donuts. They were yummy. They tasted very light but I am sure that the calories were heavy.

    1. Bala

      Post author

      Yes, those donuts are tasty! From a cider standpoint, they use the unfermented version, which makes me wonder about American recipes that use the dry fermented version.

  3. Hal Wolin

    "Many years ago..." begins madrasbala in perhaps my favorite post this talented writer/gastronome has ever written.

    In this three-act play, we are straightaway transported to his first meal in Normandy. In Act II--rolling up his sleeves to share an original regional recipe--we can almost taste the chicken, lardons of bacon and fingerling potatoes as the chicken gently simmers. We fast forward to our protagonist in Act III as he passes a cidery on his way home from work. The journey from Normandy to--well, now, seems seamless and unbroken, so delicious and alluring is the remembrance of ciders past. The blogger's moniker, The Human Element in Gastronomy, is alive and well in this beautifully photographed, mini-masterpiece of all that is delicious in Normandy cooking, and all that is brilliant in madrasbala's way with words.

    I admit it: the human element in this gastronome can't wait for December's post.

    1. Bala

      Post author

      Thank you very much for the kind and descriptive review of the post. It adds energy to the desire to blog.

      I hope you've been well.


I look forward to reading your thoughts...