To say that gazpacho is an old dish would be a bit of an understatement. While no one is 100 percent sure how the dish originally came about, it is clear that it originated in the Andalusian region of Spain and that it has distinct influences from Ancient Rome. Gazpacho remained almost entirely in Andalusia until the 19th century, when the wife of French emperor Napoleon III fell in love with the dish and popularized among the court. The rest, as they say, is history.
It’s fitting then that Chef Eric Mansavage, at the Farmheads restaurant group in Chicago, is using an almost equally old beverage, cider, to bring new life to this ancient dish. The hospitality group (Farmhouse Chicago, Farmhouse Evanston and Farm Bar restaurants) has also created a proprietary line of ciders, produced from certified organic cider apples from The Cider Farm, the neighboring apple orchard to the restaurant group’s own the estate 140-acre farm, Brown Dog Farm, in Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
For Mansavage’s gazpacho, he uses Don’t Tell William, a dry house cider blend of 2015 harvest Liberty, Major Kingston Black, Somerset Red Streak, Dabinett and Chisel Jersey cider apples, which he says works particularly well with gazpacho as it is “very sophisticated, so you get all of those nice flavor profiles, versus one of those other ciders… where it’s basically just carbonated apple juice. This stuff just has a different style to it and it’s delicious.”
While the dish is easy to prepare, Mansavage warns to be careful when cooking with cider, as it can be easy to overwhelm the flavors of the drink with too many spices and seasonings. “It’s important to really use fairly minimal seasoning, just some sea salt and pepper so that you don’t obstruct the flavors,” Mansavage says. “The trick is really to not get too over-complicated when cooking with ciders because they are complex and you want to highlight [that] complexity.”
Don’t Tell William Cider Gazpacho
Recipe by Chef Eric Mansavage
Yields 6 quarts
1/2 cup Don’t Tell William
12 European seedless cucumber, diced
6 medium-sized heirloom tomatoes, diced
4 cloves raw garlic, thinly sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Peppercorn
1 tablespoon wildflower honey
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cider to a simmer to cook out the alcohol, for about five minutes then allow to cool. Combine all ingredients, including the cider, in a blender, purée and season to taste. Chill and serve.