Autumn is many people’s favourite season, and it’s easy to see why. From the blazing colours of the treetops contrasted against a clear blue sky to the celebration of harvest’s seasonal bounty, autumn offers the unmistakable opportunity for a closer connection with nature and the landscape around us.


For those of us living in this sceptred isle, it’s the humble apple that often plays a starring role in festivals, traditions and in our kitchens at this time of year. With different types of apple ripe for the picking throughout the autumn, if you’re a fan of apples you are in for all kinds of culinary treats, from apple crumbles and apple pies to home-made apple juice and sauce, and of course traditional English cider.


And if all this talk of food has got your taste buds tingling, what better way to celebrate autumn’s harvest than by giving your favourite English cider a starring role in some delicious dishes.


 


Scrumpy Cider Chicken Pie


Serves 4


(Suggested cider: Jack Ratt Scrumpy flagon)


 


Ingredients:


Puff pastry block


400g leeks halved lengthways and sliced


450g chicken breasts, cubed


250ml Jack Ratt scrumpy cider


225g cooking apples, peeled and diced


50g butter


A few sprigs of thyme


Beaten egg to glaze


Salt and pepper to season


 



  • Preheat oven to 220ºC (200º for fan assisted ovens)/425ºF/gas mark 7



  • Sauté prepared leeks in butter until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon



  • Add chicken to pan and seal on all sides



  • Add cider and half the thyme to pan, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes



  • Stir in apples and cooked leeks, season, then leave to cool



  • Divide cooled filling between 4 single-serving dishes, then divide pastry into four equal pieces and roll to fit each dish



  • Brush rims of dishes with beaten egg then top each dish with pastry, pressing down the sides to seal. Trim off any excess



  • Brush with beaten egg then sprinkle with remaining thyme and bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pastry has risen and is golden brown


 


Beef in Dry Cider


Serves 6


(Suggested cider: Jack Ratt vintage dry cider flagon)


 


Ingredients:


900g chuck steak, cut into largish chunks


225g streaky bacon in one piece


110g dark flat mushrooms, sliced


Beef dripping


1 medium onion, peeled and sliced


350g small onions, peeled and left whole


1 rounded tablespoon plain flour


450ml Jack Ratt vintage dry cider


2 cloves garlic, chopped


2 sprigs fresh thyme (or ½ teaspoon dried)


1 bay leaf


Salt and pepper to season


 



  • Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2



  • Melt some beef dripping in a very large solid frying pan and fry the sliced onion for 5 minutes. Then turn the heat right up, add the cubes of meat and brown them quickly on all sides, tossing frequently



  • Sprinkle in the flour, stir it around to soak up all the juices, then pour in the cider – stirring all the time – and add the chopped garlic and herbs



  • Season, then pour into a lidded casserole and cook in the oven for 2 hours



  • Fry the small onions and bacon in some more dripping to colour them lightly, and add to the casserole with the sliced mushrooms. Put the lid back on and cook for a further hour


 


Spaghetti with Clams and Sparkling Cider


Serves 5-6


(Suggested cider: Jack Ratt vintage sparkling cider)


 


Ingredients:


1 tbsp olive oil


1 onion, chopped


3 fat cloves of garlic, chopped


3 mild chillies, deseeded and chopped


8 rashers smoked streaky dry-cure bacon, chopped into ½cm pieces


420g spaghetti


3kg clams


500ml Jack Ratt vintage sparkling cider


Flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped


Black pepper


 



  • Heat the olive oil in a casserole and fry the onion, garlic, chillies and bacon over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened and the bacon is slightly crisp



  • Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water



  • Sir the clams into the onion and bacon mixture in the casserole dish



  • Add the cider, put on the lid and cook for a couple of minutes until all the shells have opened. Discard any that remain closed



  • Stir in the parsley and season with black pepper



  • Drain the spaghetti and toss with the clam and cider sauce