Tag Archives: cooking with beer

Cooking with Beer: Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Not long ago I went on one of the more stellar culinary journeys of my life. Mortadella and bowls of tagliatelle di ragù in Bologna. Mounds of culatello and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma. Vitello tonnato and carne cruda all’Albese in Alba. Every kind of snail dish imaginable in Cherasco, home of the Cherasco Worldwide Institute of Snail Breeding. (Bet you didn’t know there was one).

And, of course, several liters’ worth of wine from Barbaresco and Barolo to round out all the wine we had drunk in the Emilia Romagna region. We did have a few bottles of beer as well, including some prima ones from Birra Balladin (Piedmont) and Birrificio del Ducato (Parma) — but those are worth another round of words.

So what does Italia have to do with Doppelbock and aged Gouda? While we were on our adventure in search of the fine cheesemakers at San Pier Damiani in the Parma countryside, I got to thinking about recipes that combine beer and cheese. And what better way than to put the two together than in a fondue? The recipe below doesn’t feature Parmesan cheese for a few reasons. Parmesan doesn’t melt as well as many other cheeses. I also haven’t had a chance yet to experiment with Parmesan to finish fondues. Last but not least, I just so happen to have this old tried-and-true recipe kicking around that’ll help you stave off the evening chill of these autumn evenings.

Brechtian moment: I know it requires a bit of lateral thinking to get from Point A (northern Italian wines and cheeses) to Point B (northern European cheese and Bavarian beer) to Point C (fondue), but I’ve been looking for a way to work my Italy trip into a post for quite some time now. At any rate, it’s probably not the worst writing sin I’ve committed. And what’s not to like about Italian food and wine?

Before we get to the recipe itself, some beer and wine pairings:

  • Aged Gouda is a distinctive cheese, and melds seamlessly with both the Doppelbock and nutty sherries like Oloroso or Amontillado.
  • Stouts and porters match aged Gouda’s nuttiness and notes of caramel.
  • The “cru” Beaujolais wines from communes such as Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Morgon, and Chiroubles balance fruity elegance with enough staying power to counter the cheese.
  • If you can find something like Birra Baladin’s Nora or their Elixir, you’ll be in for a treat. Nora is a rich and spicy “Egyptian” ale redolent of dates and candied orange peel, and Elixir is a cornucopia of honeyed figs, rum-soaked cherries, Demarara sugar, and plums accented by Belgian yeast aromatics.

At San Pier Damiani, one of many artisanal makers of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

And now for the recipe:

Doppelbock Fondue (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

  • 0.75 lbs. aged Gouda
  • 0.3 lbs. Gruyère (the Swiss versions have more character)
  • 0.2 lbs. Emmenthal (ditto)
  • 1 500 mL bottle of Doppelbock (you’ll only use about 300 mL, but you can drink the rest)
  • 2 tbsp dry Amontillado or Oloroso sherry
  • 1 tbsp Moutarde de Meaux (or other suitably grainy mustard that isn’t too sharp or hot)
  • 1 tbsp shallot, finely chopped (a bit less than half a shallot, depending on its size)
  • 2 tbsp flour, divided
  • pinch sea salt, pinch cayenne, pinch nutmeg
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread or rye bread

Directions:

Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix in about a handful of flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer till it bubbles, add shallots, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pinches of nutmeg and cayenne. Meanwhile, mix the mustard with the sherry. (If the fondue doesn’t appear thick enough as the cheese melts, dissolve the remaining flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Once the cheese has melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. Test for salt, and add sea salt if needed.

Notes:

For the beer, I use Weihenstephan’s Korbinian Doppelbock, which is suitably rich and complex. You could also try other malt-forward beers like Scotch ale or British barleywine. Weihenstephan’s Vitus or Schneider Weisse’s Aventinus could also be interesting options.

Sourdough bread goes particularly well with this fondue, as do vegetables such as mushrooms and parboiled cauliflower.

Grappa: perfect digestif after a rich fondue.

More Tempest posts to help ease you into winter:

Spreading Good Cheer with a Tankard of Mulled Beer

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2017 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

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Smoked Beer Sauerkraut

Get out your Rauchbier, folks! It’s smoked beer sauerkraut time!

Not long ago I was in Oklahoma getting ready for a backyard grillfest with friends I hadn’t seen in a while. We decided to keep it relatively simple. Plenty of bratwurst from Siegi’s Sausage Factory in Tulsa would do the trick fine.

We also just so happened to have some homemade sauerkraut in the fridge. What could be better with bratwurst than a nice, smoky sauerkraut?IMG_1574 I was just about slice up some bacon and get the pork hocks out when my partner in crime reminded me that we had a few vegetarian guests coming. She suggested I make a vegetarian sauerkraut. But … but … I want a nice, smoky sauerkraut, I protested. And besides, we had some hearty grain salads at the ready.

***

I’ve made sauerkraut with wine, I’ve made it with hefty wheat wines and Weizenbocks, I’ve made it with gueuze. I’ve even made it vegetarian. But how would I satisfy my craving on this particular day for a deeply rich and smoky sauerkraut without the meat? A light bulb went off in my head, triggered by the Aecht Schlenkerla I spied in the fridge earlier in the day.IMG_5163

So far so good. But adding Rauchbier alone wasn’t going to do the trick. I needed to get that depth of flavour in there somehow. Enter caramelized onions. Lots of them! And lots of butter. Both help round out the beer’s contribution to the dish.

***

Unlike my light and zesty Choucroute à la Gueuze recipe I shared a few years back, this sauerkraut is Central European through and through: butter in place of the bacon, duck, or goose fat, and cooked for several hours. Spice amounts are approximate. As far as the sauerkraut goes, use fresh sauerkraut from the deli. Better yet, make your own. All you need is some advanced planning and enough time to let the critters do their thing –– not unlike homebrewing, really. (Details follow the recipe).

Smoked beer sauerkraut is a perfect side dish during grilling season, but it’s also suitable as a main course to help warm those dark days of winter. Even if the base for this recipe is vegetarian, nothing’s stopping you from adding some of those bratwurst fresh from the grill. Whatever the season, pour yourself a Rauchbier and raise your glass in the general direction of Bamberg.IMG_5086

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. fresh sauerkraut, rinsed
  • ¼ cup butter, slowly browned in a saucepan before using in the main dish
  • 4 onions, cut in half and sliced relatively thinly (too thinly and they’ll burn)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • About ½ a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Ur-Märzen (I use Aecht Schlenkerla because it’s one of the more intense Rauchbiers out there. Grätzer/Grodziskie, for example, would be too subtle for this dish.)
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed with the back of a knife
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt or kosher salt to taste. The amount you use will depend on how briny your sauerkraut is. Careful that you don’t over salt.
  • Cheesecloth and cooking twine
  • Accompaniments (boiled young potatoes, or sausages for your carnivorous friends)

Directions

Rinse the sauerkraut according to personal preference. Tie the juniper, cloves, coriander, fennel, celery seeds, and bay leaves in cheesecloth to make a spice bag.

Now crack yourself a beer and start browning your butter over low heat. In the meantime, set a heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-low heat and cover with a fine layer of vegetable oil (you’ll add your browned butter later so that it doesn’t burn). To truly caramelize your onions, you’ll need a good forty-five minutes. Add about a third of the onions to start, and keep adding as the onions reduce down.

If patience isn’t your thing, you can get by with about twenty minutes at a slightly higher heat and still get some richness into your sauerkraut, but going the distance will add that much more depth. When you’ve gotten the onions to where you want them, swirl in your browned butter, add the garlic and cook till it’s aromatic.

Raise heat slightly, deglaze the casserole with your Rauchbier, add the sauerkraut and spice bag, and let everything come to a gentle boil. Check salt and add if necessary, then cover the casserole and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for the next two to three hours.IMG_4932

Beer pairing: Any smoked beer. Porters and stouts would also go well with this dish, and I’m willing to bet that a dunkles Hefeweizen, a Weizenbock, or a dunkles Bock would work as well.

Turning Cabbage into Sauerkraut

Find a dense cabbage, remove the outer leaves, core it, and then slice it thinly. For every five pounds of cabbage you’ll need about 3.5 tablespoons of salt (roughly 2-3% of the weight of the cabbage).

If you don’t own a crock, the fermenting fabrication in Sandor Ellix Katz’s Wild Fermentation works just as well: two food-grade containers of equal size. Just fill the bottom container with alternating layers of cabbage and salt, then fill the top one with water to weigh it down. Top it off with a clean pillow case to keep the bugs out, store the container in a cool, dry place, wait about three to five weeks, and Bob’s your uncle.IMG_5046

Endnotes:

A deli and German-style restaurant in one, Siegi’s Sausage Factory in Tulsa is one of the best places in the U.S. to get German-style sausages. Look them up if you’re passing through Oklahoma on the I-44 some day (8104 S. Sheridan Rd., Tulsa, OK, 74133).

Related Tempest Articles:

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

Down the Rabbit Hole: Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

Images: F.D. Hofer

© 2016 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit

Rabbit was a rare bird on many a North American menu until relatively recently. Sure, the French had their Lapin à la moutarde and the Germans their Hasenpfeffer. But it wasn’t until European-influenced chefs on this side of the pond began wondering where all the rabbits were hiding that artisanal producers began to answer the demand for this lean and delicate meat reminiscent of chicken in taste and texture.

Unlike chicken, though, rabbit doesn’t come cheap. According to Mark Pasternak, a Marin County farmer interviewed by Karen Pinchin for an article in Modern Farmer, rabbits are difficult to produce on a large scale due to their weak immune systems and a rather unfortunate proclivity to just up and die after being startled. No factory farms for rabbits, then. A good thing for these gentle creatures, but be prepared to shell out a few pennies. Or maybe you, like me, are lucky and happen to know an intrepid backyard farmer who has gotten into this pastime that feeds so well into the desire for local products. IMG_3111

***

Doppelbock-Braised Rabbit with Caramelized Onions and Wild Mushrooms

Like duck and venison, rabbit traditionally evokes the autumn hunt and harvest, but this subtly smoky rabbit suits just about any season from early fall to late spring. As I mentioned, rabbit is extremely lean, and almost demands a braise preparation or a lengthy bath in a marinade to keep it from being unpalatably dry. For this dish, I turned to a rich and malty beer that would lend depth to the braising liquid: a homebrewed Doppelbock.

You can make this recipe the “complex” way, or you can save some time and effort by skipping the step with the grill, especially if you’re making this dish in the dead of winter. To get the smoky undertones into the dish, use a Rauchbier or a smoked porter in place of the Doppelbock.IMG_3108 If you do the smoking step on the grill, you’ll free up time to caramelize the onions and prep the other ingredients. The recipe looks time-consuming, but since many of the steps are concurrent, it isn’t that onerous at all. You can start this dish in the late afternoon, and have it on the table by the time your guests have finished up with the first courses.

Wondering what to drink with rabbit? Though typically classed as a “game” meat, rabbit is closer to chicken than it is to venison, so it’s not absolutely necessary to pair it with a rich beer or robust red wine. An aromatic white, such as a Viognier, a lightly oaked Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir, or even a Cru Beaujolais would make an excellent accompaniment. Garret Oliver pairs rabbit dishes with Belgian tripels, Belgian pale ales, or bière de gardes (see his The Brewmaster’s Table, 2003). As a match with a richer sauce and braising liquid like the one in this recipe, a sturdier red (such as a Bordeaux or Côtes-du-Rhône) would not be out of place, nor would a Doppelbock, Scotch ale, Belgian dubbel, or Belgian quad.

Ingredients

For the casserole:

  • 1 rabbit (3-4 lbs.), cut into 6-8 pieces
  • kosher salt and crushed black pepper
  • 1 cup wood chips (cherrywood or applewood)
  • 1 cup dried wild mushrooms
  • 2 large onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 4-5 large cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 500mL bottle of Doppelbock (or a similarly malty beer like Scotch ale or Belgian quad)
  • 1 cup of water from reconstituting the dried mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp chopped chervil

For the sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups strained braising liquid
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped chervil (If you can’t find chervil, tarragon’s great, too –– just use less of it.)

Directions

Prepare your grill for smoking and soak your woodchips for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, cut the rabbit into 6 to 8 pieces and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Once your grill is starting to smoke, reduce heat to the lowest setting and smoke/roast the rabbit in baking trays for an hour, turning every 15-20 minutes.

While the rabbit is getting its smoke on, melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy casserole set over low/medium-low heat and caramelize the onions. Don’t rush this step.

Reconstitute the mushrooms with boiling water. When they’re ready, skim the mushrooms out of the liquid, and then strain the liquid to make sure it’s free of dirt or pebbles. Set aside.

If the mushrooms are on the large side, slice them before browning them in a skillet with the other tbsp of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Remove the mushrooms to a plate, and deglaze the skillet with some of the Doppelbock. Add this to the mushroom liquid.

IMG_3109Preheat oven to 300F. Pull the rabbit off the grill, layer the pieces in the casserole with the caramelized onions, and then deglaze your baking pans with the Doppelbock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Pour all of this liquid along with the mushroom stock into the casserole, and then add the carrots, garlic cloves, and whole sprigs of thyme. Bring all of this up to a brisk simmer on the stove top before covering and placing in the oven for 2 hours. Reduce heat to 250F after one hour.

When the 2 hours is up, discard the sprigs of thyme and then arrange the rabbit, carrots, mushrooms, and onions on a serving platter and sprinkle with chervil. If you have a stock skimmer, this is the best way to get the onions and mushrooms out of the braising liquid. Cover. Strain 1 ½ cups of the braising liquid into a sauce pan. (You can lightly reduce the remaining braising liquid in a separate pan if you’d like a sauce for your side dish.)

Stirring or whisking constantly, reduce the braising liquid over medium-high heat until the liquid has the consistency of syrup. Lower the heat, add the heavy cream, and whisk in the ice-cold butter. Remove from heat and stir in the chervil. Adjust seasoning.

Serve with fingerling potatoes, rice, or Spätzle.

Prep and cooking time: Approximately 3.5 hours.

Depending on the number of courses, serves 4 to 6 people.

IMG_3117

Related Tempest Articles

The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Five Recipes for Your Cocktail Hour

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

Dining Down the Holiday Stretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

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Images by F.D. Hofer.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

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The Fonduementals of Beer and Cider: Recipes to Warm Your Weekend

Fondue is a consummately convivial dish in any season. I’ve had fondues in summer, crowded around a communal table at Le Refuge des Fondues, that long-lived Montmartre institution famous for serving barely-drinkable wine in baby bottles. Yes, baby bottles. And I’ve had plenty of fondues in winter. Fondues marked many a special occasion in my family, with mid-December and early January birthdays expanding the holiday calendar on both ends. (Maybe this is why I can’t help but associate fondues with cold and snowy winter evenings.)

For my family, there was and remains only one way to make a fondue: Zermattequal parts Emmenthal and Gruyère cheese, white wine, and a hearty dose of Kirsch. Even today, this “classic” Swiss fondue remains one of my favourites. But I remember a late spring evening some decades ago in Zermatt, the picturesque town in the shadow of the Matterhorn, an evening that awakened me to the possibilities of this rustic dish. For starters, the restaurant listed not one but several fondues. This, in itself, was a revelation. I settled on the herb fondue, a classic Swiss fondue with so much basil that the fondue was more brilliant green than its typical yellow-cream colour.

IMG_0056Since that evening, I have concocted dozens of variations on the traditional fondue for what has become an annual winter dining tradition chez moi. To keep things interesting, I began experimenting with different combinations of cheeses and ingredients. I might, on occasion, add morels and roasted garlic, or sundried tomato and oregano, or even finely diced pancetta. It was just a matter of time before it occurred to me that I could melt the cheese in a liquid other than white wine.

Following are three fondue recipes straight from the Tempest cookbook, fondues that’ll warm the guests around your dinner table and keep the conversation lively well into the wee hours. The first features hard apple cider as its base, while the second is a richer affair bolstered by Doppelbock. The final recipe may be the only fondue recipe you’ll ever need.

For all of these recipes, you’ll need some way to keep the pot of bubbling liquid and cheese warm at the table. You’ll also need long forks. A fondue set works best, but you can always rig something up. All recipes serve four to six people, depending on how much bread and other accompanying food you’ve prepared.

Gorgonzola Apple Cider Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .3 lb. Gorgonzola dolce, cubed (use Cambozola if you can’t find a less assertive gorgonzola; it’s good to have a mix of creamy and pungent cheeses)
  • .4 lb. Gorgonzola piccante, cubed
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup hard apple cider, off-dry
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp. Poire Williams
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • For dipping: broccoli florets, cauliflower florets (parboiled); brown mushrooms (whole); fennel (sliced); 1 loaf sourdough bread or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Prep the vegetables. Parboil the broccoli and cauliflower, and leave the fennel and mushrooms raw. Cube the bread.

Cube the Gorgonzola and grate the Gruyère. Cut the garlic clove in half, and rub the inside of the fondue pot. Mince the remainder.

Heat the cider and minced garlic over medium heat till liquid begins to bubble, turn the heat down, and begin adding the cheeses slowly, stirring with a wooden spoon: Gruyère first, then the Gorgonzola. When it is all melted, dissolve flour in the Poire Williams and stir in. Check the seasoning, and add pinches of sea salt if need be.

Serve with apple cider, an American pale ale, a crisp northern German Pilsener, or a dry/off-dry Riesling.

Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Ingredients:

  • .7 lb. aged Gouda, grated
  • .3 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • .2 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup Doppelbock
  • ¼ cup Amontillado Sherry
  • ½ shallot, diced finely
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. sherry (Amontillado or Oloroso)
  • 2 tbsp. grainy German mustard
  • cayenne (pinch)
  • nutmeg (pinch)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 loaf sourdough bread, rye bread, or country bread (cubed)

Directions:

Cube the bread and grate the cheese. Mix the flour into the grated cheese. Heat the beer and sherry till it bubbles. In a separate pan, melt the butter and sauté the shallots. Add the shallots to the bubbling liquid, then slowly incorporate the cheeses. Add the pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne. Once melted, finish with the sherry-mustard mix. (If fondue doesn’t appear thick enough, dissolve more flour in the sherry-mustard mix). Check seasoning, and add sea salt if needed.

Fondues aren’t for those watching their waistlines, and this one’s at the far end of the richness scale. I find that Doppelbocks aren’t the best accompaniment – too much of a good thing. Try a Hefeweizen, or a lighter Weizenbock like Weihenstephan’s Vitus. A glass of Amontillado complements this dish wonderfully.

Swiss Fondue (Family Recipe)

Ingredients:

  • .5 lb. Emmenthal, grated
  • .5 lb. Gruyère, grated
  • 1 cup dry and fruity white wine
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp. Kirsch
  • freshly ground nutmeg (pinch)
  • freshly ground black pepper`
  • 1 loaf french bread, cubed

Directions:

Cube bread. Grate cheese, and mix with flour. Rub fondue pot with garlic. Heat wine in fondue pot over medium heat till it simmers. Reduce heat. Slowly stir in the grated cheese.

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Image Source: www.switzerlandcheese.ca

Once the cheese has incorporated into the wine, add the kirsch. (If the fondue appears runny, dissolve a bit of flour into the kirsch beforehand). Stir in freshly-ground black pepper and nutmeg, then transfer to fondue burner. Et voilà.

Beverage choices for this kind of fondue are fairly wide open. White wine from Swiss, German, Austrian, or eastern French regions are typical accompaniments, but you could also opt for a red wine like a Beaujolais, even a lighter Pinot Noir. As for beer, try an aromatic and lower-IBU American IPA, or a southern German Pilsener.

Guten Appetit!

Related Tempest Articles

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

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Zermatt Image Source: Wikipedia

Fondue Pot: F.D. Hofer

© 2014. F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Dining Down the Holiday Homestretch: Choucroute à la Gueuze

Sauerkraut is one of those dishes that can assume multiple incarnations, some on the light side, and some with enough goose fat to sink the Bismarck. After three solid days of eating rich foods over the course of that American holiday of sublime overindulgence, I’m feeling very much inclined to look to the lighter end of the spectrum and to the west of the Rhine.

For this variation on Alsatian-style sauerkraut, Choucroute à la Gueuze (or just plain sour beer sauerkraut, if you prefer), I use gueuze in place of white wine for a zesty crispness that’ll cut through all that turkey and mashed potatoes. I also bundle up a slightly different spice blend than I do when making my soporific duck fat German-style sauerkraut, spices that come together in a flavourful ensemble with the citric tartness of the gueuze. The amounts are approximate – spice as conservatively or intensely as you like.

One of my many sauerkraut variations - this one made with Boulevard's Harvest Wheat Wine

One of my sauerkraut variations – this one made with Boulevard’s Harvest Wheat Wine

Versatility is the hallmark of this dish. You can serve it up with sausages and ham, or you can opt instead for a seafood variation using scallops and halibut. Prepare these simply: salt, pepper, and a quick sauté in a mixture of olive oil and butter before garnishing the platter. You can also add mussels near the end of cooking to echo that other great beer accompaniment, moules-frites. Boiled young potatoes add just enough heft, and sliced, parboiled fennel bulb rounds out the dish.

Vegetarians need not feel left out in the cold either. For depth of flavour, substitute one pound of mushrooms for the bacon and skip the butter if you’re vegan. Crimini mushrooms work well, but chanterelles or oyster mushrooms add a finer touch. Caramelize the mushrooms in a separate skillet, and then combine with the rest of the ingredients when adding the sauerkraut.

The humble cabbage is, of course, the star attraction. You can use canned sauerkraut in an absolute pinch, but a bag or jar of fresh sauerkraut will flatter the dish all the more. Better yet, make your own. All you need is some advanced planning, a little time, and a sharp knife. (Details follow the recipe).

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. fresh sauerkraut, rinsed
  • ¼ lb. slab of bacon, diced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 onion, cut in half and sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 green apples (peeled, cored, and diced)
  • 1 cup gueuze or lambic (a light-coloured beer like Lindemans Cuvée René works well)
  • 1 tbsp. juniper berries
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. tarragon, chopped (keep a few sprigs aside for garnish)
  • sea salt or kosher salt to taste
  • cheesecloth and cooking twine
  • sausages, meats, seafood, potatoes, and vegetables of your choice

Directions

Preheat oven to 325º F. Rinse the sauerkraut and prep the onion and apples. Tie the juniper, cloves, coriander, fennel, cumin, and bay leaves in cheesecloth to make a spice bag.

In the meantime, render the bacon fat in a heavy casserole set over just shy of medium heat. Swirl in the butter, raise heat to medium-high, and sauté the onions until they turn translucent. Add garlic and apple and sauté another minute or two.

Raise heat slightly, deglaze the casserole with the gueuze, and add the sauerkraut and spice bag, letting everything come to a gentle boil. Check salt and add if necessary, then cover the casserole and place it in the oven.

You could easily let this dish cook for up to three hours for a very tender, nearly melting sauerkraut, but since we’re going for a light touch, an hour will yield sauerkraut with some crunch. You could also braise the sauerkraut on the stove top over low heat, but cooking it in the oven frees up the stove top so you can prep the other fine foods that will garnish your dish.

Remove from the oven and stir in the tarragon. Cover and let sit for another minute or two before garnishing the casserole or turning the contents out onto a platter.

Serve with gueuze, lambic, Flanders red ale, or Oud Bruin. White wines like Rieslings or Gewürztraminers are perfect accompaniments as well.

Turning Cabbage into Sauerkraut

Find a dense cabbage (go for purple cabbage if you’d like some added colour), remove the outer leaves, core it, and then slice it thinly. You could use a food processor, but the result comes out like watery coleslaw. For every five pounds of cabbage you’ll need about 3.5 tablespoons of salt (roughly 2-3% of the weight of the cabbage).

If you own a crock, great. If not, this fermenting fabrication works just as well: two food-grade containers of equal size.

IMG_9497Simple, eh? Just fill the bottom container with alternating layers of cabbage and salt, then fill the top one with water to weigh it down. Top it off with a clean pillow case, draw some whiskers on it, and you’ll keep the ambient critters at bay. Store the container in a cool, dry place and wait about three weeks.

© 2013 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All rights reserved.

Bourbon Squared: Maple-Glazed Pork Belly Meets Barrel-Aged Beer

’Tis the season for rich dishes that combat cold evenings. If you’re looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous turkey (or if you just plain like pork), this dish echoes the flavours and aromas of the bourbon barrel-aged beers I featured last weekend. It would also accent the maltiness of English-style barley wine quite nicely. Serve your favourite kale dish as a side so that you don’t feel too bad about eating and drinking such an ample combination.

Maple-Glazed Bourbon and Apple Cider Pork Belly

IMG_6394

Ingredients

  • 2.5 to 3 lbs pork belly, rubbed generously with coarse sea salt and pepper
  • 1.5 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 pinches salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp mixed peppercorns
  • ¼ cup dry vermouth
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup for the glaze

Directions

Rub pork eight hours beforehand or, preferably, the night before. Remove from fridge about twenty to thirty minutes before cooking and preheat oven to 300 degrees. While the pork is coming up to room temperature, prepare the vegetables and the braising liquid (apple cider, bourbon, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves).

Heat about 1 tbsp oil in a heavy casserole. Cut the slab of pork in half, and brown each piece over medium-high heat, one at a time, until golden brown. Drain fat, reserving 1.5 tbsp.

Add the vegetables to the reserved fat and sauté. Scrape all of this to the side, and deglaze with the pot with vermouth. Gently score the fat side of the pork belly slabs, return to the pot, and  add the braising liquid. Bring up close to a boil and, if need be, adjust salt level before placing in the oven.

Cook in oven for 2 hours, and then turn the oven down to 200 degrees for the next 1.5 hours or so.

Remove pot from the oven, and remove the pork slabs. Strain and de-fat the sauce, and then begin reducing it. While the sauce is reducing, add the maple syrup. Continue Reducing until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.

Cut the pork slab into large cubes, and crisp each fat side in a skillet or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Place on a plate, and spoon the glaze over the cubes.

Wine complements this dish just as well as beer. A lighter red wine would do just fine, but don’t forget about the compelling possibilities of white wine. Try an aged Chenin Blanc from the Loire region of France – an excellent match with the maple and bourbon in the glaze – or even a crisp sparkling wine from California or the Finger Lakes.

Bon Appétit!

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