Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cooking w/Beer: Roasted Fish with Wheat Beer Sauce

Sometimes there are beers that get lost in one's cellar. It's not that they're bad beers. It's just that it might not be a style one is really into. You have to figure out something to do with it. To drink an entire bomber of a beer you're not entirely sure you want to drink in the first place is hard to do. So, we look to cooking as an option.

For me, there have been a couple of wheat beers that just won't go away. One such beer was the Boulevard Smokestack Series' Two Jokers Double-Wit. This beer is said to be loaded with orange, coriander, and other spices. Spicy wheat beers are hit-or-miss for me. That and I don't always handle 750 mL of Belgian style brews as well as American counterparts. All that and I had the beer in my possession for nearly six months, the universally accepted limit for cellaring beers.

After some searching on the Internets, I came across a roasted fish recipe. It called for halibut or salmon. I was able to find salmon here in town, so that's what I went with. The recipe called for 12 oz. of beer. That left me with enough to drink at dinner which paired deliciously. I will definitely try this recipe/beer combo again.


Serves 4

• 2 halibut or salmon fillets (about 1 ¼ inches thick), halved crosswise
• ½ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp black pepper
• 1 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp butter
• 2 shallots, finely chopped
• 1 TBLS balsamic vinegar
• 1 bottle (12 oz) Wheat Beer
• 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
• ¼ cup heavy cream
• 1 TBLS capers, drained
• 1 ½ TBLS chopped fresh tarragon leaves

Preheat oven to 450°F. Rinse fillets and dry thoroughly with paper towel; season with salt and pepper.

In large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, warm olive oil. When oil is hot, add butter. When melted, add shallots and sauté 3 minutes. Add vinegar; cook 30 seconds, then add Wheat Beer and bring to a boil. Boil mixture until beer is reduce to about 1 ½ cups, about 4 – 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cream, capers and chopped tarragon; cook mixture 1 ½ minutes longer.

Place fish on top of hot tomato mixture. Put skillet into oven and roast 10 minutes, or until fish is firm to the touch and just barely opaque in the thickest parts. Transfer fish to serving platter. Stir tomato mixture in the skillet and spoon over top.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Beer I Drank Today: Hopslam

Every year, there is a mad rush to claim every case, sixer, and bottle of Bell's DIPA, better known as Hopslam, in this town. We don't normally get as many cases as we received this year, but last year's crazed onslaught of beer geeks seeking hop heaven has finally earned us additional shipments of Hopslam.

Last year's edition was a punch in the face of pure grapefruit. I loved it. I would eat piles of Simcoe hops if my mouth wouldn't get so dry. That's how much I like the grapefruity, cat-piss aroma and flavor of this beer. It was a truly a memorable beer.

This year's version is as balanced as last year's was top-heavy. Sure, as I opened and poured the beer, I could smell that familiar grapefruitiness from last year. But as I took a sip of my first Hopslam, I realized this was another beast. The malt and honey came correct and balanced the Simcoe/Amarillo frenzy. Plus, there's pine not previously present in my experience. Truly, this is a great, great beer.

I love me some grapefruitilicious, hoppy-as-hell DIPA, but this makes it work for the rest of the beer-drinking world. Welcome back Hopslam.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Beer I Drank Today: Special Holiday Ale (Retox Edition)

I decided some time ago that maybe I should take better care of myself. To do this, it seemed best to rid my body of toxins in order to begin a new regimen of eating better and exercising more. I certainly ate better, limiting portions, sugar, caffeine, and even alcohol. (The exercise will have to come later when it gets warmer.)

The program of supplements meant to clean me out was a ten-day deal. Today is the 11th. It's time to undo all the good I've done. It's time to retox as one friend put it. I started with coffee this morning, but a beer this evening was what I really looked forward to.

I decided to finish off one of the few holiday beers I still had left from the...err...holidays.
The Special Holiday Ale from the collaboration of Jolly Pumpkin, Nøgne-Ø, and Stone (three of my favorite breweries) hit the spot. Juniper berries, chestnuts, and other spices dominated this malty slice of heaven. When the hop presence wasn't felt, I could swear I was drinking the best, fruitiest Coke ever. And at 9% ABV I was sure not to confuse it too much for a fruity cola.

Welcome back beer. I've missed you. It's been since last year...

This was my first beer of 2010, just in time for Hopslam's arrival tomorrow. Enough of that talk. Let me enjoy my first beer of the year, of the decade.