Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Stout Weekend

Although the weather wasn't quite on the same page (unusually warm for St. Patty's weekend), these last few days have turned out to be quite a stout filled run (and a nice 4-day weekend for me). It is almost as if the stars had aligned for this one - My wife's sister and her husband came up for the extended weekend and knowing that they had just found the love for craft brew, a few trips to some of Chicago's brew destinations were in order; Founders released their Kentucky Breakfast Stout on Saturday (3/14) at their Grand Rapids brewery and Three Floyds (of the Munster Floyds) were releasing tickets for the opportunity to purchase their Dark Lord Imperial Stout at the upcoming festival of the same name.

I was unable to attend the Kentucky Breakfast release party, but reports came in that the allotment sold out in under an hour - my dreams of tasting this elusive double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout aged in bourbon barrels were fading. At about the same time we were making a trip to one of Chicago's mega-liquor emporiums and found that they will be receiving two cases of KBS on St. Pat's - the dream is coming back into focus.

Sunday evening we made the mandatory stop at Goose Island's original Clybourn location. Here we were introduced to their new menu (standouts for me including amazing Duck Rillets, Pork Sliders topped with Pickled Cabbage and Sriracha Aioli) as we were informed that they had ran out of their Dublin Stout - no worries they still had their Imperial Coffee Stout as well as their Night Stalker Stout.

Monday morning I found out that West Lakeview Liquors would be receiving one case of the KBS and allowing the public one bottle each. We added WLvL to our itinerary and headed to Piece brewery and pizza joint. Here we were treated to their delicious "New Haven style" pie and their Burn-out Smoked Stout - the flavor complimented the smoky quality of the roasted red peppers as well as the earthiness of the sauteed mushrooms on my pizza. Later that day I was able to obtain a couple bottles of the KBS at West Lakeview and found out that Whole Foods would be getting in a case on Tuesday as well & allowed me to reserve a 4-pack - the dream has been realized.

To complete the circle of stoutness, I awoke this morning at 6am to grab my two "golden tickets" for the opportunity to purchase a guaranteed allotment (yet to be announced) of Dark Lord bottles come April 25th. I am very much looking forward to Dark Lord Day. This will be my third year returning and if it is half as fun as the last two years, I am in for one hell of a day (no pun intended).

All this black-gold goodness and Goose Island's Stoutfest 2009 isn't until next weekend - $30 for 0ver 30 craft brewed stouts, I can't wait. And as I write this blog, the first KBS is opened, cheers!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More fun with Truffle Pate

So, you went ahead and shelled out the $22 for that Truffle Pate to make that Porcini Soup from a couple days ago. Now what are you supposed to do with the rest of it? Well easy enough, just dice some potatoes (Yukon Golds in this case) into about a 1/4 inch dice. Toss the little cubes into a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and then give them a good toss to coat. Make sure the potatoes are in an even layer, lid-up and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Take the lid off, toss again (doing your best to get all of the brown sides up) and continue cooking until tender and brown (prolly another 5 to 7 minutes). Once you are satisfied with the potatoes, add a healthy dose of the Truffle Pate, toss to evenly distribute the deliciousness & plate. In the picture, these delightful spuds are served next to a pork chop and some asparagus (both seasoned only with salt, pepper and olive oil; the asparagus was roasted at 450 for about 3 minutes - the pork, grilled over high heat for about 12 minutes).

p.s. If you have any left, try the Truffle Pate in some scrambled eggs.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Porcini-Truffle Soup

This is a really rich soup I made after my wife noticed an abundance of dried mushrooms in our cupboard. I used about 1 cup of dried porcini mushrooms & probably 2 and half cups of a dried mushroom blend. Both were steeped in hot water for about a half an hour and then strained - the liquid was reserved. I then placed a few sage leaves, a couple of sprigs of thyme, half of a sprig of rosemary, and a bay leaf in about 4 tablespoons of olive oil. I brought this to a boil and then reduced the heat to low and allowed these herbs to steep for about 10 minutes. The herbs were removed and I sauteed one sliced onion, one sliced shallot and two sliced cloves of garlic for about 5 minutes in the herb-infused oil. Next, I dropped the mushrooms, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed for about 15 minutes, added a cup of white wine and boiled until reduced by half, then added the reserved mushroom liquid, about a quart of beef stock, the herbs from the oil infusion and brought this mixture to a boil. Once boil was reached, heat is set to low and the mixture simmers for a half an hour. After the time is up, remove as much of the herbs as you can (especially the bay leaf) and puree. Follow up with a half a cup of plain yogurt, season with salt and pepper, then continue to simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve with a healthy dollop of
white truffle "pate" (see below), a drizzle of white truffle oil and a little fresh thyme.

*Side note - I know these truffle products are expensive, but they really do add an amazing flavor. You could certainly make this soup without the truffle additions, but then it wouldn't be as big a treat. You can get this stuff online or if you are fortunate enough to have some nice specialty gourmet food shops around, support those bastards and keep them in business.

*Beer note - I drank a Bell's Hop Slam with this and they played well together. The aromatic hop quality of the beer almost mirrored the aromatic truffle aspect of the soup and the richness of the porcinis worked well with the bitterness of the Hop Slam.