Sunday, February 9, 2014

Beer Mussels With Bacon and Potatoes

I love mussels. Rich broth, tasty little morsels, and some good crusty bread to soak up that broth. There’s not much quite like it. So damn good. Beer steamed mussels are great for several reasons…they’re inexpensive, their ease of cooking, and their time to cook. All in all, you can have a badass meal in 20-30 minutes. Beer mussels with bacon. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’d stop reading at mussels, beer, and bacon, and just get right to cooking it.

Mussels are easy and fool proof. Tap on them, to make sure they close. The ones that don’t close, you toss in trash. Scrub to clean. Cook. The ones that don’t open after cooking, you toss in the trash. Done.
There’s many types of broth you can make for this dish; many with beer, many with wine, sake, seafood stock, etc. Of course, I chose beer. And the beer, in fact, that I chose is a Gose style ale from Choc Beer Company out of Krebs, OK. A gose ale is not a highly brewed beer. I mean, it’s a pretty tough beer to get. Thankfully, we have Choc brewing it right here in Oklahoma. It’s a wheat beer brewed with coriander, and has a saltiness to it as well as a tartness. A cooling refresher. I love this beer. Their Signature Series, which includes this Gose, is top notch.

This Gose is perfect with fish, shellfish, and other seafood. A quencher with a faint salty background, citrus and bready spice through-out, and a great tartness. With mussels, it’s wonderful.
I think you’ll enjoy this dish. It’s very hearty and warm and perfect for winter. I used what I had in the fridge and it just turned out great. This recipe calls for a half bottle of the beer. Which, actually, the bottle comes in 750ml size which is 25-26oz. So, measure out a little more than half, and drink the rest! It’s a win-win situation! And if you can’t find a gose in your area, find a beer with similar qualities.

2-3 lbs of mussels, scrubbed and debearded
15-18oz of Gose ale (or other style of citrusy wheat beer)
3-5 slices of bacon, chopped
1/2 lb of new potatoes, small diced (about 1/2in bite-size pieces)
1 fennel bulb, core cut out and thin sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp of chile sauce (sriracha or other)
1 red chile, finely diced
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
Blanched green beans (optional)
Some quality crusty bread

Yield: 2 for entree or 4 for appetizer

* First and foremost, when storing mussels, get a large bowl. Toss in some ice cubes and a little water. Put mussels in bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use.

Ok….here’s the tedious part…
When preparing your mussels, you’re going to toss several in the trash. You buy 2 lbs worth, and when all is said and done, you’re really going to end up with about 1 1/2 lbs worth. You have to inspect every mussel. With some cold running water, and a small knife or spoon or something, tap on each mussel. It should close up. If it doesn’t close completely, then toss in trash. Also, if the shells are cracked or broken, then toss in the trash.

Hold mussel under the running water and scrub with a sponge or whatever. If there are beards, then use your knife and thumb and cut them off. Set the good mussels aside in another bowl until all are inspected, cleaned, and ready.

Now, the easy part!
In a large pan, over medium heat, add in the chopped bacon. Cook for about 10minutes until the bacon starts to become crispy. Then add in the fennel and potatoes, and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Push everything to the side of the pan and pour in the beer. Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Mix well. Then turn the heat to high. Add in the chile sauce. When the beer starts to boil, turned heat back down to medium and add in the mussels. Add in the blanched green beans as well if you have them (I figure potatoes and green beans go well together). Cover and toss a few times. Cook for 4-5 minutes until all mussels have opened. 

Take off heat. The mussels that haven’t opened, toss in the trash. Spoon everything else into large bowls immediately and pour broth over everything in the bowls. Garnish with the diced red chile. Serve with a nice side of crusty bread like sourdough. Mop up that broth with the bread! It’s so fantastic!

Hearty and filling. Pair this meal with a gose or gueze. Even a stout, such as an Irish stout or oatmeal stout or oyster stout, would work well with this dish too, I would think.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beer Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

I love this season. Food, food, food, and more food. Plus, so many winter warming beers. Pumpkin beers, dark ales, strong ales, spicy ales, etc. Heavy beers. Heavy foods. More family time. More naps. Eh, you get the idea. Fall and winter are fantastic.

Turkey is pretty much on every plate across America on Thanksgiving. Simple salt and pepper, stuffed, herbs, fruits, smoked, brined, fried....the list goes on. Not many do a beer brine. Lets face it, turkeys are huge, and in my opinion, to do a successful brine with beer, you need a lot of beer. I've done this turkey the past few seasons at my house. And it seems I get more guests as the year goes on just for my turkey. So, I'm here to share with you my recipe. Its the season of giving afterall.

Beer I always choose for this brine is Sierra Nevada's seasonal beer "Celebration Ale" IPA. A wonderful, dry, fruity, and mildly hoppy IPA. And, coincidentally, it just happens to hit Oklahoma shelves every year in November.

Ingredients for Brine
One 12-14 lb turkey
1 gallon of Sierra Nevada "Celebration Ale" IPA (1 gallon equates to 12 12oz bottles)
2 tsp whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
6 bay leaves
2 bunches thyme
1 bunch rosemary
3 yellow onions, rough chop
4 celery sticks, rough chop
4 carrots, rough chop
5 tangerines, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 gallon water (ice cold, preferably)

Ingredients for Aromatics
1 bunch Rosemary
1 bunch Thyme
1 cinnamon stick
1 tangerine
1 lemon

Other utensils
1 5gallon food-grade safe bucket
small cooler with an xlarge turkey oven bag and ice

Not going to lie, this is a long process. But the work is minimal. Its really just sitting around and waiting for the most part.

As easy as it sounds....put everything in the brine list (minus the turkey and water) in a large stock pot. Bring to a simmer for 15 min, stirring. Then turn off the heat and let cool.
The brine in the making

Once room temp, add in the gallon of ice cold water. You want the brine to be extremely cold so it doesn't raise the temp of the turkey once placed in the brine. Set brine in fridge to let cool even more. Maybe an hour or so.

Now, you have one of two options....1) set turkey in brine in the 5 gallon bucket and place bucket in fridge to keep cold Or 2) set turkey in brine in an x-large turkey oven bag, tie it off, and then place in small cooler and surround with ice. Then we wait. 36 hours, to be exact. Make sure the turkey is COMPLETELY submerged in the brine.

When time is up, you take turkey out of the brine, rinse the turkey, pat extremely dry with paper towels, and set on counter to allow to rise to room temp.

Preheat your oven to 475. Season with a little salt and pepper in the cavity. Stuff the turkey with aromatics if you like. Truss the turkey. Season the outside with a little salt and pepper. Place in a roasting rack and into the oven. Cook at 475 for 30 min, then reduce heat to 350 for roughly 2.5 hours. Cook until internal temp in the thigh reads 164 degrees, and done!

One of the most important things for meat is to allow for rest. With this size of turkey, simple lay a piece of foil over the top on the counter, and allow to rest for about 30mins before slicing it up.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Oktoberfest Pork Chops

I've posted these before, but hey, it's the season for it. Oktoberfest. An awesome time full of beer and food and dancing and silly music. Speaking of beer and food....Marshall's Oktoberfest is one of my favorites and it has a natural affinity for pork. So, lets brine some tasty chops with it!

4 bone-in pork rib chops (1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)
2 cups of warm water
2 cups of cold oktoberfest/marzen beer (plus 1/4 cup for later use)
1/4 cup of kosher salt
1/4 cup of brown sugar
Fresh sage leaves
Fontina cheese (thin sliced)
2-4tbsp of olive oil
1/4 cup of oktoberfest/marzen for deglazing
2tbs of butter
Juice of half a lemon
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Yield: 4

As simple as it sounds….Put the rib chops in a large plastic bag. Mix the salt, sugar, and warm water in a bowl and mix well until the sugar and salt dissolved. Then add in the cold beer. The cold beer will obviously drop the temp and prevent it from cooking or raising the temp of the pork. Pour all over the pork. Seal and toss in the fridge for 4 hours. May need to flip the bag one time. Simple as that.

When done, take the chops out of the fridge. Rinse them off and pat them dry. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a large cast iron skillet, or other oven proof skillet, on a burner on med-high.

Cut a small pocket in the chops and stuff them with the cheese and 1-2 leaves of fresh sage. Add olive oil into the pan. Sprinkle chops with a tad bit of salt and pepper on both sides. Pan sear one side for 2 minutes. Flip the chops over in the pan and place in oven. Continue cooking for another 5-6minutes.

When done, take out of the oven. Place chops on a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Put skillet back on stove. Deglaze with the beer and scrape bottom of the pan. Add in the butter and lemon juice. Let reduce a bit and pour over the pork chops. Serve with some wilted greens to be simple. Or maybe a big hunk of mashed taters to sop up those juices. 

Pair this dish with your favorite Oktoberfest brew.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jalapeno Cheddar Beer Bread

Quick breads are a godsend. Always better than that commercial crap out there and takes hardly any skill and time to make. Seriously, just toss in the cheddar, beer, flour, jalapenos, etc, and you got yourself a quick beer bread.
Coop Ale Works "Native Amber"

I used a local amber ale with this. Coop Ale Works “Native Amber” is a smooth brew with grassy hop notes. Great beer to pair with spicey foods and sharp cheddar. The affinity of this beer and bread was fantastic.

Two things to remember with this….mix by hand, or the bread will be too tough when finished. And only mix until just incorporated, or the bread will be too tough when finished.

2.25 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1-1.5 cups of fresh grated sharp cheddar cheese (I love cheese)
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and diced
12oz of amber ale (room temp)

*NOTE* You could also make these into biscuits or muffins. Just reduce the bake time by half or more and check with a toothpick in the center until it comes out clean

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a bread pan with butter and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift in the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, and chili powder. Set aside.
In another large bowl, add in the melted butter, beer, diced jalapenos and cheddar cheese.

Add all the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, a third at a time, mixing between with a spatula until just incorporated. Pour the dough into the bread pan. Smooth out the top just a tad. And top with a little more grated cheese.

Place in oven and bake for 45min, or until a knife inserted in the center of bread comes out clean. And done!

Slice thick or thin. It looks kinda dense, but it’s really not. It’s mainly the cheese. haha. Enjoy with some butter, breakfast, sausages, cheese, some good ‘ol country food like brown beans and ham, etc. And of course, some good brews.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pale Ale Drunken Drumsticks

People say chicken is boring. I say they don’t know what they’re talking about…..or they’re doing it wrong. There's literally thousands of ways to do chicken. Take, for example, this recipe. Summer time. People are using their grills. Pale ales in hand. One of the best examples of the style....Marshall Brewing's "Arrowhead" pale ale. Citrusy, fruity, hoppy, grassy, awesome. Great with grilled meats. Today though, we're going to make a spicy, peppy glaze to go on some drumsticks.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)
1 lg pkg of chicken drumsticks (12-16)
1 12oz bottle of pale ale
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 chipotle chile en adobo
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro
2/3 cup ketchup
1 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp honey
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

FYI, my grill is busted. So, I'm doing this in the oven this time.

Preheat oven to 450. Grease baking sheets. Salt and pepper the chicken. Bake for 40 min.

For the glaze....add the beer, OJ, lime, chile, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Puree till smooth.
Pour the puree in a pan. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk well. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to medium-low and let reduce for 30 minutes (roughly same time the chicken will be done). Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.

Note- Reducing intensifies flavors. Reducing pale ales and IPAs will bring out more bitter hoppiness, which isn’t necessarily good. If the sauce is too bitter, then add some more honey to balance it out.

When chicken is done, take out of oven, and turn on the broiler. Dip chicken into the sauce and get nice and coated. Place chicken back on the baking sheets and into the oven. Broil for just a couple minutes until dark brown and done.

The skin is citrusy, spicy, smoky, and has a faint hoppy background to it. It’s scrumptious! Pair this dish with the same pale ale. The hops will draw out the heat, the carbonation will lift the skin and fat off the palate, and the maltiness of the beer will play nicely with the meat itself. Serve a zesty black bean and corn salad on the side if you want too.