Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Snout-to-Tail, Stout-to-Pale

28 02 2010

photo by Phil

When you see those blue Eating About Beer napkins, you know you’re in for an adventure…

 
Earlier this month I was selected to participate in Foodbuzz’s 24 24 24 event that showcases posts from 24 different bloggers on 24 different meals in a 24-hour period. My dinner theme was a head-to-tail pork dinner with beer pairings for each course. I got together with a couple of the other guys from Eating About Beer to help make it happen. Eating About Beer is a group of friends focused on elevating food and beer pairing and just general beer and food awesomeness. To read about our first dinner that took place last November, click here.

The idea for this dinner was to do a head-to-tail pork dinner focusing on some common and some less commonly used pieces of the pig and then pairing those dishes each with a beer to highlight the flavors of the dish. After loads of running around picking up random (surprisingly expensive) pig parts, beer and veggies and doing a lot of prep, we pulled it off last night and it was great. A lot of the pictures in this post are by my friend Phil again, whose photo blog you can check out here.

photo by Phil

I think there will have to be some more posts later explaining some of these dishes in further detail because some of them were worth remembering and recreating. In place of bread and cheese as a snack before the meal, we had a few bowls of pork rinds that we spiced up a little bit. We tossed one bowl of them with hot sauce and another with Meyer lemon zest and cayenne pepper. Goooood stuff.

 
And then came the real food…

 
First Course

We started off with fried pig ears over a salad of watercress and radish dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.

photo by Phil

This was paired with Saison Dupont – a light, fresh and slightly sour Belgian farmhouse ale to complement the fresh spiciness of the salad and the crunchy fried ears.

 

Second Course

Next up was a fresh homemade bratwurst over homemade soft pretzels and Eric’s amazingly awesome homemade sauerkraut topped off with a beer mustard sauce and some pickled mustard seeds. Check out Eric’s blog about all things fermentation Awesome Pickle.

photo by Phil

Naturally, we had to pair this one with German style beer… it just wouldn’t have been right otherwise. We went with a Marzen from Gorden Biersch, here in town. Slightly caramel-y, bready and malty with enough hops to cut through. Marzen (meaning March beer – which was brewed in March to be served in September) is a traditional Oktoberfest beer and it was pretty much made to be consumed alongside large quantities of pork.

 

Third Course

Third round was trotters (pig feet!) in a Korean kimchi jigae-like stew with kimchi, daikon and rice cakes, topped with green onion.

photo by Phil

We paired this one with the Hitachino’s Nest Red Rice Ale from the Kiuchi Brewery in Japan. And not only did the flavor pair well, it was red too!

 

Fourth Course

Next up was the pork jowls. We did a classic Italian dish of pasta all’amatriciana. For this one we used the guanciale that I’ve had curing & drying here for around a month. We served the sauce over homemade pasta and topped it off with some Pecorino Romano.

photo by Phil

We paired this one with a Duchess du Borgogne, a Flanders red-ale style beer from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Belgium. The slightly sweet, sour tanginess of this one really did a number on that sweet, tart tomato sauce.

 

Fifth Course

Finally the part you’ve been waiting for… the head! This was definitely the most fun part of all of this to prepare, but it was also the biggest shot in the dark because this was the first time I’ve ever dealt with a head of a pig… or any other beast, for that matter. I decided that I really wanted to do more of a roast than a porchetta di testa lunchmeaty type of deal so I decided to take it more the traditional porchetta route. I removed the face/jowls, trimmed it down a little, rolled it up and we roasted it pretty much all afternoon. Then to serve it we cut up a few little pieces of the different parts for each plate. The round one is snout! We served it with simple vinegar pickled vegetables and a spiced mango sauce dressed up to look like mustard.

photo by Phil

This one was paired with Russian River’s Temptation Ale. This one is a sour Belgian style ale that’s aged for almost a year in used French Chardonnay barrels. It has a really interesting and complex flavor profile because of that and it went really well with both the meat and the pickles. Nice slightly smoky malt flavors to compliment the roast pork but also some tartness to hook up with the pickled veggies.

 

Sixth Course – Dessert

And finally, dessert. I went pretty simple on this one but also had to keep the pig prominent. Chocolate creme brulee topped with candied bacon bits. The bacon I used was my homemade bacon.

photo by Phil

We paired this one with Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Breakfast Beer – an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee. Not really much explanation necessary… chocolate + smokey bacon + smokey stout + coffee = amazing.

 

And here’s the lineup of beers in order.

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That was the meal. Now for the fun part… some more of the process…

Ear Salad

Whole ears that were simmered for about an hour with the trotters. (I think longer would have been better because they were still pretty tough in the middle down that white stripe of cartilage you can see in the next photo of the slices.

photo by Phil

photo by Phil

photo by Phil

 

Sausage & pretzels

Soaking the intestines to be stuffed…

Israel fighting with my stupid stuffer while I just hang out and catch the sausage… I think this is really what they’re talking about when they say food porn.

Testing thermometer accuracy… the digital was way off. Could have killed our yeast!

Rolling out pretzels

 

Trotter Jigae

Trotters were simmered for about 3 hours until they were falling apart

We attempted to make trotter cakes (inspired by In Praise of Sardines) but they just fell apart in the end. Still delicious. They were seasoned with garlic, Korean chili flakes, sesame seeds and salt to throw a little more Korean flavor in the mix.

 

Tagliatelle All’amatriciana

Making the pasta…

 
Making the sauce…

Slice the guanciale

Dice the guanciale

Sweat some fat out of it and crisp it up a bit

Slice the onions super thin and sautee them in that fattyness until they’re soft

Reduce a bottle of white wine in it and then add a big can of San Marzano tomatoes and let it simmer for a couple hours really low and then season to taste

And we had to test out the pairing in the kitchen too, of course…

 

Pig’s Head Porchetta

This one was my attempt at creating something like a porchetta but with the head. After removing all of the meat and face from the bone (see previous post here) and seasoning it and letting it sit for a day and a half or so, we took it out and decided that this pig’s head was just way too big to roll into itself. So we cut off one of the jowls and saved it for later. Trimmed a bit off of the one still connected to the rest of the face to make it more even, and then seasoned it with rosemary, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper.

Then we scored it, rolled it up and tied it.


Rosemary, thyme and lemon straight from the back yard – super local.

After about 4+ hours of slow roasting, it was perfectly cooked inside but the skin was a little hard so we ended up not using it. How bout that snout??

Cutting some slices

photo by Phil

Plating it

photo by Phil

 

Baco-choco Brulee

Candied bacon… who would have thought? I got the idea from David Lebovitz’s recipe for Candied Bacon Ice Cream. Mine didn’t look quite like his because I cut it really thick but I did essentially the same thing… covered it with brown sugar and baked it. Sooooo good.

photo by Phil

 
Israel, Eric & me
photos by Phil

 
Menu Recap:

Fried Pig Ear Salad with watercress, radish and balsamic vinaigrette – paired with Brasserie Dupont Saison Dupont (Tourpes, Belgium)

Bratwurst, soft pretzel, sauerkraut, beer mustard and pickled mustard seeds – paired with Gorden Biersch Marzen (San Francisco, CA)

Trotter Kimchi Jigae with daikon and rice cakes – paired with Hitachino’s Nest Red Rice Ale (Ibaraki, Japan)

Pasta All’amatriciana – paired with Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchess du Borgogne (Vichte, Belgium)

Pig Head Porchetta – paired with Russian River Brewing Company Temptation (Santa Rosa, CA)

Chocolate Creme Brulee with candied bacon – paired with Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast Beer (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Here’s a little gallery of closeups of each of the beers (click to enlarge)


photo by Phil

Success!

*All of the pork came from Range Brothers through Prather Ranch Meat Company. It’s pricey but some of the best pork I’ve ever tasted… and you can rest easy knowing that it comes from happy pigs.

 
Links to related pages…
Eating About Beer
Awesome Pickle
Phil – Clubantietam.com
Prather Ranch Meat Company





Soft Pretz

27 01 2010

While we’re on things non-meat… I’ve been back on a pretzel-making kick and I’m pretty excited about it. These little doughboys are one of my favorite bready snacks and – as far as breads go – they’re pretty damn easy to whip up.

Flour, water, purple. Wait no… flour, water, yeast. And some sugar and a little bit of salt. I couldn’t find the recipe I used to make these before but I did it from what little memory I could drum up and they turned out pretty good.

Instead of dipping them in lye, like traditional German soft pretzels, you drop them in boiling baking soda water for a minute before baking. It’s pretty similar to making bagels. My guess is that the extra yeasty, pretzel-y flavor comes from the explosive yeast action from the sugar you add at the beginning. Sugar is like fuel for yeast… it eats the sugar and multiplies like millions of microscopic bunnies.

I’m going to make the lye version soon so I can compare…

 
Super Easy Soft Pretzels

1 cup warm water (not too warm – around 80F is the perfect temperature for yeast)
1 package of active dry yeast
2 tbsp brown sugar

3 cups of flour – bread flour is good but plain white works too

Water Bath
4-6 cups water
3 tbsp baking soda

Kosher salt or coarse sea salt.

 

1. Warm water and sugar in a small bowl – sprinkle yeast on top to proof. You’re re-hydrating it to activate it since it’s been put on hold in its dried state.

2. After about ten minutes, the yeast should be a little bit bubbly on top of the water and smell nice and yeasty. Pour it into about half of the flour – 1.5 cups – and mix.

3. Add flour a little bit at a time until the dough comes together and then turn it out onto a nicely floured surface.

4. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it’s smooth, adding flour as you need to to keep it from sticking to the surface and your hands.

5. Toss it in an oiled bowl and cover it tightly with plastic wrap for about an hour until it’s doubled in size.

I like to use plastic wrap instead of a damp towel like some people say to because the wrap traps the air in and it seems to make a nice environment for the dough to do its work in. It keeps it warm and humid in the bowl – kindof like a little mini proofing chamber – the little yeasties like that.

6. After the dough has doubled in size, roll it back out on the table and pound it down. Cut it into 8 to 10 pieces and roll them into balls.

7. Roll the balls into snakes and then twist them up into whatever shapes you want.

Stef made some pretty nice twisties. I think this one she’s working on is the “unichorn”.

8. Let them sit and rise again for about a half hour. While they’re rising, put on your pot of boiling baking soda water and preheat your oven to 450F.

9. After the second rise, drop the pretzels one at a time into the boiling soda water. Boil for about 30 seconds on each side then remove and put them on a greased baking sheet or parchment papered sheet.

10. Salt the pretzels while they’re still sticky.

11. Bake until brown – about 10 minutes.








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