Upon my return from my beer hunt, that you have all heard so much about lately, I was pretty anxious to pair some Dogfish beers. Dogfish seems to live by adventure, adventures in brewing that is. They are pushing the limits of the brewing industry and trying combinations unlike any other brewery. Mixing wines or raisins or chicory with there beers seems to be common place for Dogfish, but totally off the wall to other breweries. They have far surpassed traditional styles and are embarking into territory of their own. What great beer! Creating and brewing beers never before seen. That is exactly why I brew beer, to push the limits. I have yet to do it with the success of Dogfish Head. Tonight’s dinner consisted of marinated steak, baked cheese garlic mashed potatoes and a small plate salad. My beer pick for the night was Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale. I chose this beer for several reasons. My thinking was this complex ale could certainly hold to all the flavors we partook of tonight for dinner. Indian Brown Ale is a fusion of an IPA and a Brown Ale. All the most notable characteristics from each style are prevalent in this beer. It has the hoppy character of an IPA and the malt sweetness of a Brown Ale. The hops in this beer certainly held up well to the many flavors in tonight’s meal. They cut the fatty flavors of the meat very well, cleansing the palette, leaving you clean for the next bite. In addition, the hop character of the beer accentuated the Balsamic Vinagrette that I donned my salad with. The spiciness of the dressing was accentuated by the wonderful bitterness of the beer. There is an abundant sweetness to this beer. All the malt characters give way to flavors that merged well with the grilled, caramelized flavors of the meat. A lot of wonderful flavors abound from this beer; chocolate, nutty and biscuity, with contrasts of acidity and bitterness. All of these flavors complimented one another quite well , it was a very successful pairing. Be sure to seek out some of Dogfish’s Indian Brown and be sure to wipped up a steak to match.

This was a simple piece of sirloin, that I bought at the grocery store the other morning. I knew it wouldn’t be hard to prepare a nice meal with it. I knew also, I had some beers that were in dire need of a slab of beef. Preparation for this steak is quite easy, you can throw together all sorts of combinations for marinades. Mine was pretty simple, I used olive oil, black pepper, garlic and thyme. I did tease the meat to allow the marinade to seep into the center of the steak. The steak sat in the marinade for only 12 hours, with one flipping to assure there was flavor on both sides and clear through.
The key to a great steak is a hot grill, real hot. Fire that bad boy up and let it sit, get it nice and hot. Once it’s heated, scrape it and use a bit of olive oil on a paper towel and coat the rack. Let it sit just a bit longer, to reheat the rack. Now, when you go to flip any protein on a grill you want a previously unused portion of the rack. This assures that it is still very hot, which you want to seer in all that wonderful flavor.
You’ll want to flip the meat the least amount possible. It is good practice to cook with a thermometer so you can temp all you meats. You can’t cook meat right without temping it. Going by color and time just doesn’t do it. Now a well trained Chef would know his grill and times, but owuld still temp the meat. So, I say to you, use a thermometer. You won’t want to flip the steak until it hits 120-130 degrees F. Once it hits the other side, it will immediately seer in the flavor, given the super hot rack. This is why it is important to have a hot grill. Without a hot rack, the steak will take longer to cook first of all and then won’t seer in the juices, leaving it dry and tough. I like my steak medium rare, so I pull it from the grill around 140 degrees and let it stand for about 5 minutes till it is eaten. Meat will continue to cook for 5-10 minutes after pull from the heat, so figure that in. I promise, if you follow this guide, you’ll cook a banging steak.

I reall y cheated here tonight. I used the instant style potatoes for tonights dinner. Although, I have a trick or two to make them better than right out of the box. First, use butter and not margarine. Second, substitute fat-free half-and-half for the milk. This will assure more flavor and a much creamier potatoe. Once, the potatoes where cooked after following the typical directions and those few pointers from above, I dished them into a caserole pan. With this I added several dashes of shredded mexican cheese, which I stirred in. A coating of cheese was generously applied to the top, covered and put into the oven. I set the oven at 375 degrees and let the potatoes in there covered for 20 minutes. After that time period, I uncovered and let bake for another 10, this created a nice, crusty top layer.

This was a simple dish to prepare and you can go an infinite number of ways with you plate salad. First, don’t make it too big, it’s a side dish, not the main course. Second, don’t use any creamy sauces with tonights dinner, won’t fair well with the beer. You want a sharp, acidic dressing to match the flavors drawn from the beer. Third, a cream based sauce is too heavy and won’t play well with the potatoes and may steal a bit of thunder from the steak. I used a balsamic vinagrette tonight, which went well with the steak and the beer.

Steak – 12-17 minutes
Potatoes – 5 mintues – baking: 30 minutes
Salad – none

beer + food = barleydine



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