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Round 2…..Tapout.

December 19, 2009
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If you live in San Diego you know how much rain we got last week, Monday especially. Enough rain to flood parking garages, fill storm drains and cause innumerable accidents.  Oh, California drivers, how naive we really are. I spent the better part of Monday afternoon switching out bowls of water from under the leak in my ceiling—the one that drips right onto my bed, the only piece of furniture in my teensy, weensy studio. Yep, the same leak that’s been “fixed” the past two years in a row. Apparently, the roof (someone else’s deck) “just can’t take that much water“.  Needless to say, I’d pretty much had it by dinnertime and was looking for something simple and warm to cook.  Earthy potatoes and sweet, melting leeks sounded divine.  And I was excited to use a technique fairly new to me—braising!

For the beer, I thought something light and local would be nice: Ballast Point’s Big Eye IPA.  The citrus notes and medium hops of this local San Diego brew would compliment the onion flavors and brighten up the starchy potatoes.  It seems, however, that I again discounted the powerful bitterness of the hops….and they always say cook with something you enjoy drinking!  Hmph.  Once again, the bitterness of the hops overwhelmed the dish. The beer was still a wonderful braising liquid, the potatoes and leeks creamy and smooth with still a bit of texture by the end. Had I gone with something lighter, an amber or maybe a light porter, or perhaps had I used half water or stock and half beer, I think that would have made a significant difference.

So, class, what have we learned so far?  IPAs might be too hoppy for savory cooking.  In limited quantities, maybe a couple tablespoons, I can see their potential for floral, fruity notes, but anything much more is going to really emphasize the bitter qualities in the brew.

I think next I’ll move into the porters/stouts/ambers arena, and give them a try before I return to anything too hop-forward.  On the up side, this means the door’s wide open to desserts!  Also, I might have to sneak in a quick loaf of beer bread on the side.  See my sister’s post on the easiest recipe since toast here, using Left Hand Brewing Company’s Milk Stout.

Beer Braised Potatoes and Leeks
Adapted heavily from the brilliant Mark Bittman’s, How to Cook Everything.

2 lbs fingerling potatoes (I used Weiser Family Farm’s French heirlooms)
3 med leeks
6 oz beer (I think we can safely say stay away from an IPA and try Ballast Point’s Calico Amber or Wahoo Wheat)

Rinse the potatoes and slice into 1/4″ thick coins. Cut the tops off your leeks and halve them lengthwise, then slice about 1/4″ thick. Rinse thoroughly in a colander or soak in a large bowl of water to remove any dirt or sand.  Over medium heat, warm a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a high-sided saucepan or frying pan with a lid.  Shake off the leeks and add them to the pan, cooking until they start to soften but don’t take on any color. Then add the potatoes and cook, turn up the heat slightly and cook for a few minutes until everything begins to brown a bit.  Add the beer and cover, stirring occasionally, about 15-20 minutes. Continue to add a little more beer or water if necessary.  When the potatoes are nice and fork-tender and the liquid has reduced almost completely, you’re done!  The potatoes should be very moist, with a beery sauce.  Serve with cheese or alongside a sausage link or even a simple green salad. And, of course, a nice frosty mug of your favorite brew.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. ebolden permalink
    December 19, 2009 2:21 pm

    As brilliant as IPAs are for drinking and pairing with food, they rarely translate to cooking. I think strong hops really need the cold and intense carbonation from draft pulls– I don’t even love IPAs casked. That said, the bitterness in stout and porter is usually enough to give you that perfect hint of what you would expect from IPA. Cheers to experimenting!

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