7255 US HWY 42 North
Plain City, OH
Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-6pm, September and October
There are other U-pick orchards I can recommend, like Lynd Fruit Farm. There are other Fall Festivals I enjoy, like Pigeon Roost Farm. But The Orchard and Company does an excellent job of combining both of these concepts together. After parking you are greeted to a hay castle facade behind which their pumpkins sit awaiting purchase.
There is a lot to do at The Orchard and Company. It has the obligatory pumpkin patch, hay ride, apple picking, and petting zoo, but also a few unique offerings. This includes a zipline, pedal cars, slides, and more.
Isaac's favorite two areas were the massive jumping pillow and the corn pit, which comes loaded with trucks to play with. The jumping pillow in particular is an attraction I had never seen before and it could hold a lot of kids who were all having a great time.
There is also a large pavilion with face painting, goods for sale, and a cafe which sells the standard fall festival fare like cider, hotdogs, and pumpkin donuts. The Orchard and Company was not cheap, and Isaac and I had already had lunch, so we didn't partake in any of these snacks, but looking at this menu I started to get an idea.
How I was Inspired
I have been going to orchards and fall festivals for years and one of the things I have tried repeatedly is the cider dog. I love the concept of a smoky salty hotdog mixed with a sweet and richly flavored cider. However, I almost always find the hotdog is unaffected by the the addition of cider and I'm disappointed. So I set out to infuse as much cider flavor into a hotdog.
I looked at a lot of ideas for this dish, and though I ended up making something that was my own, I was definitely inspired by the blog Heather Likes Food and Epicurious. First, I diamond cut the hotdogs so they would hopefully absorb as much flavor as possible. Then I reduced 2 cups of apple cider down to 1/4 cup and added 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar. I marinaded the hotdogs for 24 hours.
Next, I braised an apple (that I picked while at Orchard and Company) and half an onion in apple cider until very soft and sweetened by the cider.
Finally, I broiled the hotdogs until well-charred, added smoked cheddar, and broiled again to crisp up the rolls and melt the cheese. I topped the dogs with the apple/onion mixture and some barbecue sauce that I mixed with another 2 cups of cider that I reduced down to 2 Tbsp (in retrospect I think a whole grain mustard mixed with the reduced cider might have been even better). I served them with some delicious sweet potato chips.
Cider-marinaded hotdogs with cider-braised apples and onions, smoked cheddar, and cider barbecue sauce.
- 8 hotdogs and rolls
- 1/2 gallon sweet apple cider
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 apple, sliced thin
- 1/2 onion, sliced thin
- 4 oz. smoked cheddar, shredded
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- Boil 2 cups of cider over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Mix reduced cider with vinegar and garlic and put in a shallow dish. Cut a diamond pattern into both sides of the hotdogs and submerge in the marinade. Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
- Braise the apple and onion in 2 cups of sweet cider over medium high heat until very soft and sweet. Set aside.
- Boil 2 cups of cider over high heat until reduced to 2 Tbsp. Mix with the barbecue sauce and set aside.
- Broil the hotdogs turned as needed until well-charred on all sides. Remove and put in hotdog rolls. Top with some shredded cheese and gently broil until the rolls are golden brown and the cheese is melted.
- Top the hotdogs with the braised apple and onions and some barbecue sauce and serve with sweet potato chips.