Mushroom Agnolotti in Beer Cream Sauce

9 06 2010

One of the perks of blogging through Foodbuzz is that I’m a member of their Tastemakers program. This basically means that I get to try out free samples of new products from time to time from some of their sponsors. I’m required to disclose that so here it is – a few weeks ago I got a coupon in the mail for a free package of Biutoni fresh pasta! I decided to take them up on their offer and picked up a package of the Wild Mushroom Agnolotti. Honestly, I didn’t even know these were “agnolotti” until I re-read the package in the photo. I’ve been calling them ravioli all along.

Beacuse I do so much of it at home, with my friends in Eating About Beer and when I’m out eating in restaurants, I thought I should focus a little more on beer and food pairings here. The idea is usually either match flavors or contrast them but the ways in which beer can help elevate a meal or a dish are really varied. The flavor and carbonation levels of a beer can play with food in your mouth in ways wine can only dream of. The variety of possibilities is really endless.

Keep an eye out for a special page coming soon on the site that will be devoted to beer pairing and breaking down how it works.


Almost every time I make an Italian pasta dish it starts off with chopped fresh garlic and red chli flakes in olive oil. Sauteed just until it’s giving off some good aroma but before it starts to brown.

This was a super simple dish – after the garlic was good and smelly, I threw in the chopped broccolini and tossed it around in the garlic.

While that was working, I boiled the ravioli. For being packaged prepared food from the store, this pasta is really great. Lots of good flavor, awesome fresh pasta texture and really no complaints from me. Even though I love to make my own pasta pretty regularly, it’s really nice sometimes to have it fresh and not have to do anything but whip up some sauce.

After the broccolini sauteed for a few minutes, I threw in some Rogue Dead Guy Ale, the most flavorful beer I had on hand. To that I added some milk that I had warmed up in the microwave so it wouldn’t curdle when when it hit the hot sauce. Simmered that for a few minutes, salted to taste and done. Grana Padano cheese (very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano but cheaper) grated in and then poured the sauce over the pasta.

This sauce was totally inspired by a dish I had at Marvin in Washington, DC. The dish was a Belgian-style seafood stew called waterzooi and the base of the stew was an amazing creamy beery sauce. It was incredible. If you live in the DC area or are ever visiting… beer and food culture is totally blowing up right now in DC and there’s a lot of pretty exciting stuff going on.

Another healthy dusting of the Grana and voila!

Dead Guy is an Oregonian take on a Maibock. Maibock is a German style that is according to BeerAdvocate “lighter in color than other Bock beers and often has a significant hop character with a noticeable alcohol around the same as a traditional Bock.” It’s a rosy amber color and has a nice hoppiness. I’m not big on super hoppy beers but every once in a while I do enjoy them – especially when I’m eating something a little bit spicy. The hoppiness of the beer also added a little bit of floral flavor to the sauce.


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.

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


*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 –
Prather Ranch Meat Company

I’m Still Here…

25 02 2010

I’m still here! I’ve been busy. Out of town, girlfriend in town, work… lots going on. I’m preparing for a pretty awesome dinner this weekend that you’ll definitely be hearing about on Sunday. I was selected by Foodbuzz to be part of their 24 24 24 monthly dinners segment so look forward to reading about my “Head to Tail” pork paired with beer dinner this weekend. I’m doing 6 pork-centric courses each paried with a specific brew from craft breweries around the world.

Some breweries that will be showcased…

Russian River – CA
Mikkeller – Denmark
Brasserie Dupont – Belgium
Brouwerij Verhaeghe – Belgium
Kiuchi Brewery – Japan

And parts of the pig that those brews will be highlighting…


More to come this weekend… I promise I’ll start posting more again soon.

Chicken Fried Tonkatsu

20 01 2010


I love pork. It’s no big secret, and it’s nothing new right? Everyone loves pork these days, it’s cool to like pork. But it’s actually a great thing that it is so hip to like pig because it means we can get amazing quality pork everywhere now.

One of my favorite things to make lately is a brined pork chop. A big thick hog chop brined over night and then pan seared and oven roasted. But you don’t always have time for all that nor do you always have a nice fat center cut chop just lying around. What you can find pretty much anytime anywhere are boneless shoulder and sirloin chops that are cheap and… usually terrible due to the large amount of connective tissue they contain. They just don’t cooperate – sear and sautee as you may, they always end up the texture of a twelve year old truck tire. Not any more. I’ve got the trick – beat it. Beat the shit out of that chop and then bread it and fry it or sear it or whatever you need to do to get it crispy – torch it, broil it(?) toast it, microwave it. I don’t think it matters… once it’s pounded and breaded you can do whatever you want with it – it’s gonna be good.

No no but in all seriousness – chicken fried steak, wiener schnitzel, milanesa, tonkatsu – every culture has their own version of breaded, fried, flat meat… it’s all good any way you fry it. Tonaktsu is usually just a piece of boneless pork breaded and fried. I like to take the chicken fried steak/schnitzel method to make sure it’s tender… you just pound it thin (around 1/4″), bread it and fry it. I’ve deep fried and I’ve pan fried… similar results. Pan frying obviously seems a little bit healthier. I’m not totally convinced that it is, but I’m no expert. You’re also essentially pounding out the meat in favor of having a much higher breading to meat ratio… so let’s be serious – the reason you eat fried food is for the breading so just give it up already.

I put a little bit of a Korean twist on this too… because German/Texan/Japanese just wasn’t enough. I spiked the breading mix with a healthy dose of korean chili flakes and garlic salt. Otherwise it’s just flour and an egg for dipping.

I pan-fried these until they were crispy and cooked and then tossed a little bit of the seasoned flour and a knob of butter into the pan for a quick roux. I poured in a splash of the Belgian style trippel I was drinking and simmered it for a minute to make gravy. Side note – beer makes great gravy. In many many cases, for whatever you’re cooking, you don’t have stock or broth but you do have beer – 90% of the time, if you’d be needing less than say… a cup of broth or stock – I’d say substitute away.


I ate the chicken fried pork steak with a soft-fried egg (like katsudon),beet greens (the tops left over from a bunch of beets that I pickled) and pickled daikon over 50/50 rice (half white, half brown).

Eating About Beer

14 01 2010

This post is long overdue but since we just met a couple nights ago to start planning for the next dinner, I thought maybe it was time to share. First off, I deserve no credit for the photos – they were all shot by our friend Phil who is an awesome photographer. You can see plenty more of his great photos here.

Last May I met up with a group of five other friends who are all also crazy about beer and food – brewing, cooking, eating, drinking… We talked it out over a few beers, naturally, and decided that we wanted to plan a dinner where we’d each come up with a course, and then brew a beer to be paired with that course.

Over the next six months or so we hashed out who was cooking what, who was brewing what, who was brewing what now because their first batch didn’t work and all the other logistics. In the end it came out to be one course each for four of us, two sharing a fifth course, two splitting duties on appetizers, three making dessert courses and everyone brewing a shit ton of beer. We got a lot of awesome help from friends putting together everything from finding enough plates to sewing custom napkins for the dinner – along the way I got a sewing lesson. We’re calling what we’re doing Eating About Beer. More will be happening in the near future so stay tuned…

Here are some photos of the dishes. Click here to see the menu.

Pickled Sardines (check out Eric’s great blog, Awesome Pickle, for the recipe)

Sea Urchin Tempura & Salmon Sashimi with Mustard Su Miso Sauce

Madras Goat Curry with Saffron Rice

Arugula Salad with Roasted Hazelnuts, Pomegranate & Fuyu Persimmons

Borlotti Beans in Mole

Beer-Braised Short Ribs & Spatzle

Pear Ginger Cake & Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Beer Caramel

Apple Cinnamon Donuts & Whipped Beer

And Israel made chocolate truffles infused with kriek that were amazing but we don’t have photo documentation.


My dish was salmon sashimi draped over sea urchin tempura with meyer lemon juice soaked tapioca pearls, jalapeno and dried miso powder.

The mustard miso sauce on the plate is bad ass and super easy to make. It comes from, not surprisingly… Nobu. You could use it for so many things… you can pretty much use it wherever honey mustard would be good, and more… I would never think to use honey mustard with fish but the miso in this sauce really ties it together and makes it work. It goes amazingly well with fish and is a great dipping sauce. I used my leftover sauce to dip fries in. Mondo-umami.

To make the mustard miso sauce, you first need saikyo miso, which is basically just sweetened miso with sake. This shit will not go to waste in your fridge either if you have extra. If you’ve ever had miso glazed cod or miso eggplant in a Japanese restaurant – chances are this is what was on it. Cod baked with this shit glazed on top is like crack.

Nobu-Style Saikyo Miso
adapted from Nobu the Cookbook

3/4 cup sake
3\4 cup mirin
2 cups white miso paste
1 1\4 cups sugar

– Bring the sake and mirin to a boil. Boil it for about 20 seconds or so to burn off the alcohol
– Turn down the heat and stir in the miso paste, mixing with a wooden spoon.
– When it’s completely mixed in, add the sugar and turn up the heat. Stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove and let cool.

Mustard Su-Miso Sauce
adapted from Nobu the Cookbook

1 tsp Japanese mustard powder
2 tsp hot water
8 Tbsp saikyo miso
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp rice vinegar

– Dissolve the mustard powder in a bowl with the hot water
– Add miso and rice vinegar
– Crack out.


Roast Chicken

1 12 2009

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with roast chicken ever since the first time back in high school when I had dinner at my friend Neil’s house and his mom made it for dinner. For whatever reason, maybe because of my absolute awe at this amazing feat on any normal day of the week, it became tradition for his mom to pop a fowl in the oven any time she heard I was coming over for dinner.

So a few weeks ago I came back again to what is probably my favorite roast chicken recipe. If you’re into food and you’ve eaten in San Francisco chances are you’ve eaten at Zuni Cafe. If you’ve eaten at Zuni Cafe aaand you aren’t an idiot… chances are you’ve had the roast chicken. It’s one of those things that doesn’t sound like it could be that good… but really is. It takes an hour but the ambiance in Zuni is so great that the hour feels like 15 minutes and you end up wishing it was longer.

At home, this roast chicken takes a little more advanced preparation, but not really much more than an hour total time involved from hands on chicken to chicken in mouth. They serve it with “bread salad” at the restaurant but you can eat it with whatever sides or salad you want – truth is, all you need is a good beer or a glass of wine and you can eat this bird all by itself.

We had it with a pretty cool new(?) brew from Brooklyn Brewery called Local 2. There’s a Local 1 as well, but we opted for the 2. Dark but dry, sweet, slightly fruity but also a little bit chocolatey… good stuff.


Back to the bird. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about brining. But this salting is just too easy and too good. It’s so simple – the only thing you have to do to make sure it works out is get a small chicken. Otherwise, it’s foolproof.

*It takes at least one day of letting the bird soak up the salt before you can cook.

The secrets are salting ahead of time, and really high heat but shorter cooking time than you would usually use because of the small size of the chicken.


– get a small bird: 2.5-3.5 pounds
– dry it off really well with a paper towel, your shirt, handkerchief… whatever you have
– salt it with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of bird
– refrigerate the bird for at least a day, up to 3

– when you’re ready to cook, crank the oven somewhere in the neighborhood of 475f
– pop the bird in and roast breast side up for about 30 minutes until it’s nice and brown and sizzling like hell (you may have to cut the heat down a little bit if it’s getting too crazy in there and starting to smoke or burn)
– flip and roast for another 10 or so minutes
– flip again and roast for a final 5-10 minutes – in total about 45 minutes or so

*tuck the wings behind the body and you won’t need to worry about tying or trussing or any of that
**you can also shove a little bit of thyme under the skin of the bird if you’re into that sort of thing… it’s good.