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.
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…
We started off with fried pig ears over a salad of watercress and radish dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette.
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.
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.
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 round was trotters (pig feet!) in a Korean kimchi jigae-like stew with kimchi, daikon and rice cakes, topped with green onion.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That was the meal. Now for the fun part… some more of the process…
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Israel, Eric & me
photos by Phil
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)