Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beer and Mushroom Pork Chops

From Beer Advocate:

Beer and Mushroom Pork Chops

  • 1 pint or so of dark ale; anything nice and malty will do 
  • 4 pork chops; good and thick 
  • 1 big yellow onion, or two small ones 
  • Big pile of mushrooms (20 or so) 
  • Some oil for cooking 
  • Some cornstarch (1 or 2 tbsp) 
  • Clove or two of garlic, crushed or finely chopped (optional) 
  • Shot of cold water 
  • Grainy mustard 
  • Salt and pepper; to taste

First, salt and pepper the chops on both sides. Trim off any obvious fat chunks, unless you're really into hardening your arteries. Set the chops aside while you get the other stuff ready, so they can sit for a few minutes.  
Find a pint of ale. If your ale comes in 355 ml bottles, you can either make do with one bottle, or open two bottles and then drink almost half of one. More beer means more sauce, and this is good sauce. A bit of beef stock can also be added, to change the flavour. This is especially useful if your dark ale isn't all that dark. 
Slice up the onion into thin rings or half-rings.  
Thinly slice the mushrooms. 
Find a pan big enough to fit all the chops easily. Ideally, it should be nice and deep, two inches is perfect. A cast iron Texas skillet works very well if you have one. If you have a lid for the pan, dig it out. If you don't, grab the aluminum foil or fashion a lid somehow.  
Heat the pan on medium-high, and when hot add a tablespoon or so of your cooking oil. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Toss in the mushrooms and the onions. Stir frequently, don't let them burn! Nothing will happen at first, but then some water will come out of the mushrooms so they'll look wet, and the bottom of the pan might be partly or totally covered in water. This is good. When the water starts to come out of the mushrooms, stir in a pinch of salt. 
If you want to add the garlic, crush a clove in a press or chop it up really fine, and toss it into the pan at this point. Keep stirring and cooking for a few more minutes. When they mostly dry out (but don't let them burn!) they're done. Dump the mushrooms and onions out into a bowl, and make sure you keep any juice that is left at the bottom of the pan.  
Add in another tablespoon of oil to the pan, and let the pan heat up for a moment. Lay the chops into the pan. Let them brown for a minute or two on each side so they get nice and golden.  
Once they're nicely browned, pour in the beer. Take your spatula and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the nice browned bits up into the sauce. Stir in a teaspoon of the grainy mustard. Carefully add the mushrooms and onions back into the pan. Grab your lid or foil, and cover it up well. Turn down the heat to low and let the whole thing barely simmer for about eight minutes -- less if your chops are thin and more if they're really thick.  
While this is simmering, take a small cup with a shot of cold water, and dissolve a tablespoon of corn starch in it. Stir it up really well until it's completely smooth.  
When the chops are finished simmering, uncover them. Pour in the corn starch mixture and stir it all around immediately. Let it simmer for a minute more uncovered. This should make the sauce nice and saucy. If you want it thicker still, mix up some more corn starch and water, stir it in and simmer for a minute more.  
Finally, taste the sauce. Grind in a bit of black pepper, and add some salt if it needs it. If you want more grainy mustard, add more grainy mustard.  
Serve the whole thing on top of noodles or mashed potatoes and, of course, with a glass of beer.
This was great. I used pre-sliced mushrooms (because I'm lazy) and I used some of my homebrewed milk stout. I served it with mashed potatoes, green beans and, of course, beer bread.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos

Recipe courtesy of How Sweet It Is.

Crockpot Cheddar Beer Chicken Tacos[taco seasoning adapted from allrecipes]serves 4+
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup beer (I used an amber ale)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese + more for topping
taco shells
your favorite toppings: greek yogurt, avocado, cilantro, salsa, chopped onion, black beans, shredded lettuce, etc.

In a bowl, mix together chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Measure out 3/4 cup of your favorite beer, and whisk 1 1/2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning into the beer.

Place chicken in the crockpot and dump in beer with seasoning. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours.

When you first remove the lid, it will seem as though there is a lot of liquid and the chicken is just sitting in it, but take two forks or kitchen tongs and shred, shred, shred until it all comes together. Taste and season with additional taco seasoning if desired, then let sit in the crockpot for another 15 minutes or so. 

Turn the crockpot completely off, and right before serving toss in cheddar cheese. Once combined, immediately transfer the chicken to a large bowl so the cheese does not stick to the crockpot. Make your tacos!

My crockpot must have a turbo setting because I only had to cook this for 5 hours on low and it turned out perfect. For the beer I used a homebrewed brown ale and I only ended up using about 2/3 of the seasoning. Great stuff!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Slow-Cooker Steak and Guinness Pie

Special thanks to Tessa and her Handle the Heat blog for turning me on to this great recipe.

Slow-Cooker Steak & Guinness Pie
Serves 4
From Fine Cooking March 2011

  • 1/4 cup flour, plus more for rolling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 12-ounce bottle Guinness (or other stout)
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator 
In a large bowl or zip-top bag, combine flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.Toss the beef in the flour mixture to coat. Transfer mixture (including flour) to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add carrots, onion, potatoes, garlic, and thyme. Slowly pour in the Guinness and then stir in the beef broth. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. On a lightly floured work surface, roll puff pastry sheet into a 10x14-inch rectangle. Put on prepared baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and cut into quarters. Serve with stew.

I made just a couple of changes to the recipe. I substituted home-brewed stout in place of the Guinness and I made crescent rolls instead of the puff pastry. The whole family loved it including my youngest whose tastes lean towards hot dogs and frozen pizza. I'll definitely be making this again.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Now Pouring: Tommyknocker Brewery Hop Strike Black Rye IPA

Tommyknocker Brewery, Colorado
6.5% ABV
78 IBU
BeerAdvocate score: 87
RateBeer score: 94

I first ran across Hop Strike on tap this past summer on a trip out east and was really impressed by it. I was pleased to find it this week at my local liquor store. If you're a hophead, this is worth a try.

As indicated by the name, it pours a deep, dark black with faint mahogany edges that are only noticeable when held to the light. It sports one finger dense beige head that dissipates over a few minutes to a thin layer of lace. At 78 IBUs, it's no surprise that you get a nose full of hops right off the bat. It's very piney with just a slight whiff of malt.

With all that hop smell, you'd think it might be an overpowering IPA but it is surprisingly well balanced. Of course you get the citrusy hops, but you also get sweet malt and rye. With a medium bodied mouthfeel and moderate carbonation, it's really a lot more drinkable than the name would lead you to believe.

As the beer warms, the hop flavor mellows making the malt and rye more predominant and you can begin to taste a little biscuit and caramel.

The icing on the cake for me is the unbelievable lacing this beer leaves behind. With each sip another ring of lace tracks your progress. I don't know if I've ever had another beer with this much sticky lace. It almost makes the beer fun.

All in all, this is an impressive brew. At 6.5% you can drink a couple without it going to your head. I'll give it an A- and I look forward to the remaining five I have in the fridge.

Thanks for stopping in!

From the draft I had this past summer.
Look at that lacing!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome to the Double B

Grab a stool and let me tell you how things work around here.

I drink a lot of beer. Now don't confuse things because that doesn't mean I get drunk a lot. In fact, I can't remember the last time I really tied one on. I'm too old for that. No, what I mean is that I drink a lot of different brands and a lot of different styles of beer. I especially like craft beers. None of that light/lite 33ºF swill they try to pass of as beer at the gas station, I'm talking about a 40-60ºF brew with some body. I like to taste my beer. I want to smell the malt and the hops and taste the complex flavors that make each beer unique. I want to see the color and the size of the head and marvel at the lacing left in the glass. And, most importantly, when I'm finished I want to feel as if I've had a beer. If I can get the same feeling from a glass of water then I may as well be drinking water.

So here at the Double B we're going to talk about beer. I'm going to post reviews and pictures of the new beers I drink, I'm going to talk about the beers I brew (my profile pic will always be my latest homebrew; right now it's a delicious milk stout that I brewed back in early December), and I'm going to post recipes for the beers I cook with. Like I said, I like beer.

So if you're like me and you're into all things beer, you're always welcome at the Double B. I got two new sixes chilling in the bar fridge and a honey weizen in the fermenter so come back soon and see what's on tap.

Drink 'em if you got 'em!