Friday, August 22, 2008

Lentils with Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink Marinated Chops

Let's get the marinade out of the way first. This marinade has quite a few ingredients in there, but manages not to taste muddled. Whisk together the entire list from below & coat your chops. Let this marinate for at least two hours (two days would be better) and grill to your specifications.
Now for the Lentils. These little legumes come in many forms [brown, green, black, yellow] and are prepared in many ways from regions all over the globe. Here I use French Green Lentils and go a sort of French route, in a recipe that I feel delivers a lot of flavor, while still allowing you to taste the lentils. This should be enough for two as a healthy side.
Rinse half a cup of Lentils, place in a sauce pan & cover with about three inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, saute one half of a diced red onion in 2 tablespoons of duck fat until soft & translucent. Add one finely-diced carrot, a minced clove of garlic, two sprigs of thyme and saute for about five minutes. Add half a cup of water, two tablespoons of whole grain mustard & simmer for another five minutes. Drain the lentils and add them to the onion-carrot mixture along with another tablespoon of duck fat. Toss this well, season with salt and pepper. If the Lentils aren't quite tender enough, continue to cook over low heat (stirring frequently) until finished.

A perfect beer to accompany this meal would be Lagunitas' ode to the Frank Zappa album 'We're Only In It For The Money'. If you are not fortunate enough to have Lagunitas distributed in your area, go for any of your favorite Belgian Ales such as Chimay's red or white label.

Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink marinade:

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil, 2 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Whole Grain Mustard, 1 Tbsp. Honey, 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar, 1 Tbsp. Salt, and 1/4 teaspoon. each of the following: Black Pepper, Paprika, Coriander, Ancho Powder, Chipotle Powder, Cumin, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Ginger Turmeric, Fennel Powder, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, Allspice

We're Only In It For The Money

We're Only In It For The Money is the fourth beer from Lagunitas' ambitious campaign to commemorate every Zappa album - 40 years after its original release. Although released a little later than originally slated, this limited brew takes form as a Belgian-style Triple Ale and is complex, yet smooth & refreshing. Culinarily speaking this is a very versatile beer and would be great with anything from Thai food to BBQ or a burger. Its delicate nature also lends it to pair well with other light and delicate flavors, but its complexity allows this ale to work well with more bold and earthy flavors as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pullman Brown Ale Braised Venison

This dish came to fruition through my quest to find great beers for cooking. Often times the beers I truly enjoy to drink do not work well in the kitchen and cooking with wine isn't exactly ground-breaking. I prefer full flavored beers that tend to be on the bitter side of things and cooking intensifies these qualities. So the first time I had the Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale, I was pretty sure I found a dual purposed ale. The earthy sweetness of this unusually robust brown lends itself well to reduction, which makes it a great choice for use in sauces, poaching & braising. For this play on beef burgundy, I made use of the delicious Indiana Venison roast in my freezer (although you could certainly use beef or pork if you do not have access to fresh game).

Here's what I did. Preheat oven to 350°. Chop the meat into manageable pieces, season with salt & pepper & brown on all sides in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Work in shifts so you do not crowd the pan & remove to a plate once browned. After all of the meat has been browned, pour two 22oz. bottles of Flossmoor Station's Pullman Brown Ale into the dutch oven & scrape up all of the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & allow beer to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add Venison to the simmering brown, along with one onion, one carrot and one stock of celery (all roughly chopped), as well as two bay leaves, 6 springs of thyme, one spring of rosemary & one table spoon of black pepper corn. Cover & place in the oven for two and a half hours. After the two and a half hours have elapsed, remove meat from dutch oven & strain liquid into a pan. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat & allow to simmer until the liquid has reduced to half - about a half an hour. Whisk in a table spoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return Venison to sauce & bring back to heat. Serve over egg noodles with plenty of the reduced braising liquid & a pinch of fresh herbs (such as thyme, parsley or basil). This could also be served alongside your favorite roasted veggies or something of the like.

And what better beverage for accompaniment than the Pullman Brown that brought this whole dish together.