Posts Tagged 'hop bitterness'

Pliny The Elder and IPA Biscuits and Gravy

Pure Joy and Happiness

Two of my favorite things coming together as one. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Well, a cigar wouldn’t hurt, but I’m not complaining. I’m all about comfort food. Everyone loves it.  If you don’t, you’re a liar. I’m also all about IPA’s. It’s my personal favorite style of beer and can come in many different colors. The bitter citrus, the sweet malt, the hop bite; what’s there not to love? As it turns out, it goes very well with a lot of foods, too. So, I decided to mash the two together and do a pairing with them with the added bonus of instructions on how to make the dish yourself because what fun is it if you can’t eat this yourself?
Now, I was born and raised in New York, so biscuits and gravy is a dish that I didn’t grow up with. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much; all the wasted years not eating it. However, me being me, plain old biscuits and gravy aren’t good enough to do a pairing with. I had to kick it up a bit…..
…. And what better way to do that than to add beer to the recipe?  Better yet, why not add an IPA? Great idea, I know. When people heard about this, they thought I added the beer to the gravy when in actuality, I added it to the biscuit dough. The recipe for that dough is as follows….

4 cups white flour
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (softened at room temperature)
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 12 ounce can or bottle of IPA of your choosing

Standard biscuit making procedure follows. Sift the dry ingredients together, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, pour the beer into the mixture and form into a dough. The product should look like this…..

… Attractive, I know. Now form into biscuits, whatever size you feel is appropriate, and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, and voila.
Onto the gravy. Now, I’m a carnivore, but my girlfriend is a vegetarian (unfortunately), so I had to make a vegetarian gravy to top the biscuits with, which is okay because it makes the cooking a bit easier. The ingredients for the gravy are…

1 medium to large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
Broth or soup of your choosing
Rosemary, cumin, salt, and cayenne powder to taste

Start by finely dicing the onion and garlic and caramelizing them in a sauce pan. After they’re nice and sweet, add the butter and flour to make a roux. This is where I add my seasonings. I wanted to add just enough cayenne to get a bit of a smoky and spicy flavor on the mid palate, but not enough to make it hot. The rosemary is added just because it goes fantastically with IPAs. Finally, add your broth until it is at the consistency of your liking.

Finished Gravy. Another Attractive, Yet Delicious, Sight.

Now top and enjoy with your favorite IPA.
Finally, onto the pairing.
I chose Pliny the Elder because, well, it’s Pliny the Elder. First bite of the biscuit gives off a very velvety, creamy texture with a nice crust, that is suddenly brought to a halt by a sweet maltiness and hop bitterness, but not like you would find in a beer. It’s very subtle, but enough to give the biscuits a little something they were missing, as they would’ve been kind of “one note” before. Mixing with the gravy brings a whole new level. There’s a creamy, sweetness from the onions, bit of heat and smokiness on the middle of the tongue and a nice earthy, herbal note throughout. Now, the trifecta. The Pliny cuts through the fatty, creaminess from the butter and flour nicely. It melds very well with the heat given off by the cayenne. It doesn’t subdue it’s flavor, just the heat a bit, allowing you to taste the actual flavor of the cayenne and not just the heat. It helps bring forth a nice smoky, earthy, and floral flavor that was hidden before. It plays nicely with the rosemary. The marriage of the two helps bring forth more piney flavors from both the rosemary and the Pliny. It helps add a nice clean finish to a very rich and heavy meal and helps lighten the palate. The hop bitterness, citrus flavors, and malt of the Pliny also add another dimension of flavor to the biscuits and meld very nicely with the sweet onion flavor.
This was verging on perfect. Cheap, easy to make, and an absolutely delicious pairing. I can die happy now.

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2012 and Waffles

Waffles topped with reconstituted dried fruit and Bigfoot 2012

I don’t know what my obsession has been with waffles, as of late. Barleywine obsessions are understandable, well, any beer obsession really. I was struck with  an idea while drinking another barleywine one night. The dark fruit and caramel notes got me thinking; why not pair it with something similar?
I began by tossing butter, brown sugar, bourbon, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a heap of dried fruits (apples, pears, dates, figs, and apricots) together and let simmer until the fruits were nice and plump again and the sauce had thickened  considerably. This combination was a bit too cloyingly sweet, so to cut through that, I added some balsamic vinegar.

Dried fruits reconstituting

While that was simmering and doing it’s delicious reconstitution, I set up to make the waffles. Just usual waffle batter, but with a bit of almond extract, salt and cinnamon added, and the final touch, crushed up chocolate almond biscotti. Nothing too special here.
Now, there are a few reasons I decided to pair this with a 2012 Bigfoot. One, it has those classic barleywine style features; deep, sweet caramel malts, toffee and sugar cane. However, if this was all it had to offer, the pairing would become, once again, far too cloying in terms of sweetness. Which brings me to my second reason; the hop profile. This is a fantastic beer simply because of how balanced they’ve made it. There is a hop bitterness to it that helps cut through the sweetness and lightens the palate, where as typical barleywines sit a bit heavy on the tongue. Thirdly, once again involving the hops, the citrus flavor given off by the hops would go very well with the underlying citrus flavors of the fruits.
Now finally, onto the tasting….

The waffles themselves had a very nice crunch from the biscotti. It gave the dish some texture that would have been lacking without. This is something else sommeliers should take into consideration with food and beer pairings; it gives the taste and the effect on the palate a different twist and makes it much more enjoyable. The fruit topping was very sticky sweet. All of the ingredients were present, but they all melded nicely together. The bourbon and maple syrups seemed to be intertwined, the balsamic vinegar, though placed to break up the sweetness, played very well and seemed to be very helpful. The fruits themselves seemed to take on the essence of the sauce, while still keeping their citrusy, fruity flavor. A sip of the Bigfoot along with the waffles brought out some unexpected, but very pleasant notes. The nutty, almondy taste that had been subdued by the topping was brought out and sat well on the middle of the tongue. The bittering hops helped clear the palate so that the next bite would be a different experience. The chocolate, which was also subdued, came out nicely, but only for a brief moment. The sweetness and caramel malt of the Bigfoot really played well with the waffles; both had the same sweet profiles. All in all, a very successful pairing. Though this was a VERY heavy meal, the pairing of the two kept me wanting to try it again and again, as it was an ever-changing, and delicious, marriage.


Barleydine

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