Cider-Battered Sage Leaves


Photo by Michael Piazza

Sturdy culinary sage survives in the garden well beyond autumn’s frosts; I’ve dug through snow to find happy little sage leaves, insulated and alive even in late December. Sage’s thick, robust leaves stand up to hot oil and are the perfect accompaniment to a super-dry hard cider, pairing sage and apples in a brand new way. Seek out the driest local cider you can find; use one can for the batter, then serve the rest in festive flutes.

 Makes 2 cups batter to fry as many sage leaves as you like; 3–4 per person is good

¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup very dry hard cider, plus more for serving
2 cups neutral oil (like safflower, sunflower or grapeseed)
fresh sage leaves, with stems

In a bowl whisk flour, salt and 1 cup cider, adding more if needed—you’re looking for the consistency of thick heavy cream. Heat oil in a medium pot and test its readiness with a droplet of batter; if it sizzles and floats, the oil is ready. One at a time, dunk sage leaves by their stems into the batter and wipe the edge to remove excess. Lower into the hot oil and fry, turning frequently, until well-browned and puffy. Remove to paper towels and drain, shower with crunchy sea salt and serve immediately.

This recipe appeared in the Winter 2019 issue as part of a larger story on pantry staple hors d’oeuvres.