Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Berkshire Pork Chops with Green Beans, Homestyle Potatoes, and Sweet Pan Sauce


2 Nieman Ranch Berkshire Black pork chops (preferably 1 1/2 inches thick, mine were only just over 1)
2 tbsp. goose fat, or other high heat oil
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 cups water

2 plum tomatoes
2 small minced shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 tbls. balsalmic
1/4 cup bianco vermouth
dash of agave syrup or sugar
Salt and pepper

3/4 pound green beans
1/4 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 large red potato, julienned
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. goose fat
Salt and pepper
Green Flash Le Freak

For Potatoes:
1) Heat goose fat.
2) Add julienned potatoes.
3) Cook over medium to med-high heat until potatoes brown, about 10 minutes.
4) Add onions, minced garlic, thyme, salt & pepper.
5) Cook until onions are done to your liking.

For Green Beans:
1) Cut trimmed green beans on the bias into thin slices. (This is great for making large, tough beans more tender.)
2) Heat the oil and cook onions and sliced garlic for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
3) Add beans and cook for a few minutes until crisp-tender and bright green; season to taste.

For Pork Chops:
1) Mix salt and sugar in a gallon zip-lock bag with the water.
2) Add pork chops and brine for about 1 hour. (Maybe slightly more, but not less.)
3) Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with a baking sheet on the bottom rack.
4) Remove pork chops, pat dry, and season.
5) Heat goose fat in pan until smoking; add pork chops, browning 3 minutes each side.
6) Place pork chops on heated baking sheet to finish cooking in the oven, until meat thermometer reaches 125 to 127 degrees.
7) Remove, tent, and let rest for about 5 minutes.

For Pan Sauce:
1) Add minced shallots and garlic to pork pan; cook for about thirty seconds.
2) Add 1/4 inch diced tomatoes and balsalmic, cooking for 1 minute.
3) Add bianco vermouth and scrape bottom of pan to remove all browned bits.
4) Reduce liquid in pan by half.
5) Garnish pork immediately with potatoes, green beans, and pan sauce, and serve.
6) Open Le Freak.
7) Enjoy together.

A crazy beer. It blends Belgian yeasts with big west coast hops... not an easy task. The flavors will often clash like a Euro-American showdown over a Burberry sale rack. Both give off strong herbal notes, but banana and bubble gum rarely blend well with straw and pine sap. They actually go very well together, but it's like drinking two different beers at the same time. First the hops nose, then you taste and get the malty spice, followed up by the bitter IPA finish. I wouldn't have paired this with pork except that the pan sauce was a sweet balsalmic reduction, which I thought would stand up to this beer. This beer, however, might just be enjoyed most on its own, savoring the subtle undulation between styles.

Lyndsay here, and let me just say that one- or two-pot meals are really my cup of tea, lacking a dishwasher as I do, and being in my soul of souls the kind of (lazy) person who figures it all tastes good in a dogpile together anyway, right? Gabe is a lot more likely to make separate sides, separate sauces, separate fish and meat courses for God's sake, so this was all him. It's a Tuesday night meal for the ambitious, or the second-date hosting, or the rabid brining enthusiast, and to my mind a fine-ass spread for American fare small-scale dinner party. Pork chop and pan sauce recipes were stolen with shameless pride and affection from America's Test Kitchen (linked through our site, or pick up The New Best Recipe).

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thai Cashew Chicken


2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 red onion, sliced thick
1 carrot, sliced thick on the bias
5 cloves fresh chopped garlic
1 generous bunch chives, chopped
1/2 cup cashew nuts
2 tbsp. dried red chili
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
3 tbsp. good chicken stock
2 heaping tbsp. Thai roasted chili paste (naam prik pow)
1 can water chestnuts
2 tbsp. cooking oil
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Accompaniment: white jasmine rice
24 oz. Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop Ale, 2007 Edition

1) Heat cooking oil, preferably in either a wok or a cast iron skillet for high heat.
2) Add minced garlic and dried chili and cook 1 minute.
3) Add chicken and brown on all sides.
4) When browned, add soy sauce and oyster sauce to season. Cook 2-3 minutes.
5) Add carrots, onion, water chestnuts, and chicken stock, stirring occasionally.
6) When vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, add cashews and 2 large tablespoons of naam prik pow. Stir into sauce, which should thicken nicely.
7) Turn off heat and combine with fresh chives.
8) Serve with white jasmine rice.
9) Open Sierra Nevada Harvest Fresh Hop 2007.
10) Enjoy together.

The 2007 is the 11th Edition of Chico, CA based Sierra Nevada's Harvest Fresh Hop annual line. What the hell? Why the devil would anyone age a beer with "Fresh Hop" in the title? Well, when 24 oz. is lingering at the back of Morton Williams, and miss-marked for $3.50 instead of $5.99, that's when you drink a year-old fresh hop beer. The hops still emit a nice woodsy/marijuana hop aroma, very herbal, and the hops on the palate veer toward the pine end of the spectrum. Still some nice malts in there, good caramel color, and beyond worth the asking price.

THE ADVENTURE: First of all, I learned this recipe at a cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and the sweetness goes like gangbusters with a nice hoppy brew. Finding naam prik pow may sound like an impossible and tiresome quest to folks who lack neighborhood Thai grocery stores, but I'll just pass on the advice given me by my Thai cooking instructor. "Let's say I live in the States, and I run a Thai restaurant, and you come ask me where you can find naam prik pow. What am I going to say to you?? NO!?" (Maniacal Thai laughter--which for the record doesn't come off as very evil.) So, um, they'll probably hook you up at your local Thai joint, because it's an essential ingredient.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Midnight Salad


1 large vine-ripe yellow tomato
6 fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. aged balsamic vinegar
cracked sea salt and pepper
22 oz. He'brew Jewbelation Eleven

1) Cut tomato into bite size pieces.
2) Chiffonade the basil.
3) Drizzle olive oil and Balsamic vinegar.
4) Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
5) Open He'brew Jewbelation Eleven.
6) Enjoy together.

THE BEER: First of all, it's from He'brew, which is made in Saratoga Springs, NY and is the ale/other category of the Shmaltz Brewing Company, whose lager beers fall under the Coney Island label. It's dark, velvet chocolate with a good dose of coffee, brown sugar, vaguely smoky, not too strong on the tobacco end, with hints of fruit (primarily prune) and just a tiny trace of tar. Very meaty, strong beer, which Gabe matched with an acidic, vinegar-lightened dish. Why? It tastes delicious. The darkness of the beer was offset by the strong light tones of the salad.

THE ADVENTURE: It can be a dicey proposition, one fraught with self-recrimination and heartache, to pick a tomato when There Be Bandits About. After all, they know you want the ripe tomato. The thieves long for the same heightened flavor. They will wait until the last moment possible, just before you pick it, and abscond with your tomato. They will not look back. Except to check for other near-ripe tomatoes. Oh, sure, you could pick an unripe tomato. You could also buy hydroponically-genetically-fundamentally-spiritually altered tomatoes from the great tomato beds of Mars, and eat them after they've gone through re-entry. But why do that? One's timing must be perfect to preempt these Lawless Community Gardeners.

THE RECIPE IS GOD-AWFUL SIMPLISTIC BUT DELICIOUS: Also, it was a literally post-midnight snack. One does what one can, after all. And the tomato was begging to be picked. If I'd been a Tomato Bandit, I'd have marked it days ago as "ripe" for the "plucking."

Our departed Belgian comrade in beer drinking (he didn't die--he has merely determined to live in Belgium) left us with some lovely Delirium Tremens glasses, from which the He'brew done got drunk from when it got drunk. Forgive us. We just watched Tropic Thunder.