A while back (translation: more than a year ago), I received a couple of 6-packs of a limited run of hard cider that a local winery had produced. Two flavors – apple and pear. As repeatedly documented, I’m not much of drinker, but this sounded SO GOOD! So I tried it, and it was … just OK. Still not quite my thing. I just don’t really like the taste of most alcohol. I guess I’ll always have the palate of a pre-teen … I prefer regular (NOT diet) soda to just about anything. (BUBBLES!!!) After a nearly lifelong Mt. Dew
addiction habit, I weaned myself off caffeine earlier this year, and now I pretty much stick to 7-Up. Lately, I’ve been squeezing fresh lime into it, which is especially refreshing in these oh-so-hot July days.
Anyway, I’ve given away a few bottles of the cider here and there, but I’ve still got several and I’ve been trying to figure out alternate ways to use it.
Pinterest and Google have generated some ideas, including substituting it for beer in things like beer bread and beer can chicken on the grill, or using it to poach fruit (I think pears in the pear cider could be AMAZING!) and I plan to try those; but after the Guinness mac, I wondered if there was also a cider version. Spoiler alert, there is! Quite a few, actually. So I picked one somewhat at random and gave it a whirl.
This one may sound a little out there, but that’s kind of what this blog is for – to test the options and let you know which ones are worth it. Spoiler alert #2 – this one absolutely is!
Hard Cider Mac
Adapted from Tide and Thyme
- 2½ cups elbow macaroni
- 1 cup hard cider
- 1 cup half & half
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. flour
- 1 Pink Lady apple, peeled, cored, and diced (see notes)
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 16 ounces extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta for ~7 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat, then add the apples and onions. Stir to coat with melted butter and sauté until the onions are softened and translucent, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the flour and stir to coat, cooking for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the cider and half & half, and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.
- Remove from the heat and add 12 ounces of the cheese. Stir until it melts and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the pasta to a 2 quart baking dish and pour the sauce over. Stir to coat the pasta evenly and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
WOW! I really wasn’t sure about the apples in this recipe. The cider and onions, sure, but apples seemed weird. But it’s fantastic! The white cheddar, onion, and apple create an awesome flavor combo.
- The original recipe called for a Granny Smith apple, but I am ride-or-die with Pink Lady apples, and I wasn’t about to switch it up here. I love the tang – the rest just seem blah to me. Everyone’s tastes vary, of course, so I imagine your favorite apple would work just as well.
Posted July 12, 2020