Sunday, June 07, 2009

Beer as ONE ingredient

Seemingly neglected in recent fervid discussions of pairing beer with food has been the technique of preparing food with beer.

The better recipes do not shout: I'm beer! I'm here! Rather, they introduce beer ingeniously and quietly, both as a cooking liquid and as an ingredient that is only one subtle part of a tapestry of flavor.

Chef Patrick Dinh of Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Virginia is a practitioner.

Chef Patrick Dinh

Witness Dinh's use of beer at a Clipper City Brewing Beer Dinner (3 June 2009).

He braised pheasant with a weizen dopplebock and finished it with a pale ale velouté sauce. (A velouté is one of the classic French sauces: stock thickened with a roux.) The ale added a meaty character to the velouté and a nuance of spicy bitterness. But if you hadn't known that Chef Dinh had used beer, you would have just appreciated the depth of flavor.

He also made a béarnaise, substituting a maerzen (German-style amber lager) for the wine normally found in this reduction sauce of vinegar, wine, tarragon, shallots, egg yolk, and butter.

More photos here. The entire menu:

Welcoming Beer
Small Craft Warning Uber Pils

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Fingers
with curry aioli, pickled daikon.

Paired with Red Sky at Night Saison (cask)

Beer-Braised Pheasant
with mushrooms, ale veloute.

Paired with Hang Ten Weizen Dopplebock (vintage 2008)

Pork & Pork
Roast Loin with braised fresh bacon, spiced cabbage with sultanas

Paired with Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale

Main course: NY Strip au Poivre

New York Strip au Poivre
with 'beer Bearnaise', whipped potatoes, Brussels sprouts, smoked bacon.

Paired with Winter Storm Imperial ESB (draught)

Raspberry Cheesecake
Paired with Peg Leg Imperial Stout

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