Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cellphone Retrospective: Winter Beer

Below is the first in a series of beer retrospectives based on a selection of pictures found on my phone.

For most of us it's easy to relate winter with comfort food. Warmer, richer, hardier. Beer is no different. In beer terms this translates to higher alcohol, fuller body, bigger, toastier, spicier flavors or any combination. This leads to Porters, Stouts, Browns, Tripels, Barley Wines, Strong Ales and imperial versions of just about anything. My personal favorites can be sipped slow at warmer temperatures. Proper sitting position displayed here. Got the vibe? Good.

Life & Limb | Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head | 10% Dark Ale

If you've missed the buzz, this brew is the first batch of the first collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Made with maple syrup from the Colagione family farm, estate barley from Sierra Nevada and a blended yeast from each brewery, this beer packs a punch at 10%.

Limb & Life | Sierra Nevada / Dogfish Head | Small Beer

As a "Small Beer" , this batch was made from the second runnings of Life & Limb. Limb & Life is a 5.2%, lighter version of the same brew.

Pumpkin Porter | My Kitchen | 8% Porter

I boiled fresh pumpkin for about a 1/2 hour, smashed it all up with a potato masher, added my grains into that mix to make a partial mash then brewed it with small amount of clove, nutmeg, coriander, cinnamon and fresh ginger. Shout out to nerf football decapper in the background courtesy of Beer Tap TV

Santa's Little Helper | Port Brewing | Imperial Stout

A heavy weight, 10.5% imperial stout with big roastiness. Depending on your family, this strong sipper can be a great "helper" to get you through the holidays.

Ten Fidy | Oskar Blues | Imperial Stout

Once the initial shock of seeing this thick black beer pour like motor oil from the can, you are left with a beer that is strong but well balanced. Perfect for sipping slow. The picture above was taken on Thanksgiving Eve w/ pumpkin porter homebrews in the background

Monster Ale | Brooklyn Brewery | Barley Wine

A real nice cold weather brew. Not the biggest barley wine by any means but the alcohol is apparent and its a nice break from some of the hop bombs out there.

Black Orchard | The Bruery | Belgian Dark Ale

Tastes like a belgian, looks like a porter. Easily the lightest on today's list, a true belgian yeast flavor with a nice spiciness that works for me. Why didn't take a picture of the actual beer!?!

Oaked Arrogant Bastard | Stone Brewing | American Strong Ale

Not sure if this is a winter beer, but it's in my phone and I've been enjoying them lately, so here. The oak monster is out BIG TIME in this version of Arrogant Bastard so I can't say it's a
particularly well-balanced beer, but it's undeniable that it tastes delicious.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Little Stevie Wonder

Who needs breakfast when you have this to start your day?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Korean Fried Chicken

There's a lot of hype in the food universe these days about Korean Fried Chicken. Some call it Korean Fried Crack, others just say it's damn delicious. The other day, my chef at work was singing the praises of KFC, Korean not Kentucky , so I decided to do a little investigation. As today was my day off and I had no interest in completing my Christmas shopping, I decided to see what all the hubbub was about and try my hand at some of this Korean goodness.
After some Googling, I found enough info to come up with a good game plan. First, I had to get some chicken. Drumsticks and wings were my cuts of choice, due to the fact that breast meat has less flavor and a greater chance of drying out, in my opinion.

Next I made a marinade of 1 sweet onion, 10 garlic cloves, 2 T of ginger, 1 T of sriracha, salt, pepper, & a little oil.

Blast that shit in the processor until it looks like this,

Now we get our hands dirty. Pour this marinade over your chicken pieces and rub it all over. Get it under the skin, but be careful not to rip the skin away from the chicken. It will leave you with a funny looking finished product and the crispy skin will not completely encase your chicken.
Also, for those who don't like getting their hands dirty, invest in some latex or nylon gloves. They're inexpensive and save you the time of washing your hands. Here's what your meat pile should look like

I put this beautiful bowl of pungently garlicky chicken in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours to let the flavors develop. You could let it sit overnight if you want, but I have a pregnant wife who was gonna be home soon looking for dinner, so I went with the minimum.

Fast forward 1 1/2 hours and the smell that hit me when I opened the fridge was what I would image God's farts smell like. Unbelievably delicious.

I quickly washed off the marinade. I did this because if I fried the chicken with the marinade still on it, the marinade would burn way before the chicken was done and give the chicken a burnt taste. That would be bad. After washing off the marinade, I dried the chicken on a towel, laid it on a wire rack and salted the skin.

The salt on the skin draws out the moisture. This makes for a crispier finished product. Once I saw the moisture develop on the skin, I dried it with some paper towels and resalted. I repeated this process 3 time before dredging the chicken in Wondra flour. Wondra flour should be called Wonder flour. It is great for pan frying fish, thickening sauces, frying Korean chicken, etc. A must have in any kitchen.
To avoid a dusty, floury mess, I use a big ziploc bag to dredge my chicken.

After all my chicken is coated, I remove it from the bag, shake off any excess Wondra and return it to the wire rack.

Here is where I let it sit for about 20 minutes. This lets the flour stick to the skin and form what will be the first layer of our crust. After the 20 minutes I flour it again and fry at 350F for 10 minutes. This helps to draw the rest of the moisture out of the skin, helping to achieve the crispiness which KFC is known for.

After 10 minutes drain the chicken on some paper towels. We will fry it one more time before we chow down.
Here's what it should look like after the first fry.

Turn the temp on your oil up to 375F for the final fry. Once you are up to temp, fry your chicken for about 1 more minute, until a nice golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
Here is where the magic happens. I've kept this quite until now, but this is THE key piece in this recipe. It's called the Octo Vin. Make this before you start the chicken. It is from Momofuku and their $100 fried chicken dinners.
When your chicken is drained and still hot, toss it in the Octo Vin. Be warned, the smell may make you pass out from sensory overload. The hot chicken and the soy/vinegar sauce make for one of the best combinations I have ever smelled/tasted in my life. Here's what it looks like.

I served the chicken with a slaw of cabbage, green bean, clementine, sriracha, rice vinegar, honey, coconut milk, salt & pepper.
Awesome meal. I think next time I would use just the chicken wings. As good as the drumsticks were, they were not as flavorful as the wings. Buffalo wings have nothing on Korean fried chicken.

.......& Music

As much as we love our food & drink here at the CT Cafe, we also enjoy ourselves some music. Just as great grub and brews are best enjoyed with good friends, so is music. Here is a link to our old friend Oliver Crunk's site. He is one of the interwebs foremost conniseurs of horseracing and great music. Hopefully, we can get him to hit us up with some music posts in the near future. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Koningshoeven Quadrupel Vintage 2004

This wonderful Dutch Trappist Ale was bottled in 2004 and opened in 2009.

Being aged over five years, this Koningshoeven Quadrupel treats the nose to an aroma of apples and cinnamon with subtle hints of dark red cherrys. As you can see above the ale has a dark copper apperance with a thick frothy head.

The innitial flavor is malty, beginning with apple and and shortly fading to a not tart but not sweet raspberry. The mouthfeel is warming as the flavor moves to the back of the mouth. The raspberry turns to a mild current bitter, very similar to the current bitters found in a younger Orval. As the current subsides, the flavor returns back to apples, although not as malty as the innital component.