PLATES & PINTS
Stein Diego Underground supper club provides innovative methods for cooking with beer By Brandon Hernández
Photo: Kristina Blake
Brandon Hernández hated beer and had never even heard the term “craft beer” until his first trip to O’Brien’s Pub in 1999. There, in a dark yet friendly space rife with the foreign smell of cascade and centennial hops, he fell into line with the new school of brew enthusiasts courtesy of a pint-sized one-two punch of Sierra Nevada Bigfoot and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale. Those quaffs changed his perception of all beer could and should be and he’s spent the past decade-plus immers- ing himself in the local beer culture -- living, learning, loving and, of course, drinking craft suds. He’s since taken up homebrewing and specializes in the creation of beer-centric cuisine. A native San Diegan, Brandon is proud to be contributing to a publication that serves a positive purpose for his hometown and its beer loving inhabitants. In addition to West Coaster, he is the San Diego cor- respondent for Celebrator Beer News and contributes articles on beer, food, restau- rants and other such killer topics to national publications including The Beer Connoisseur, Beer Magazine and Wine Enthusiast as well as local outlets including The San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego Magazine, The Reader, Riviera Magazine, Pacific San Diego, Edible San Diego, Dining Out San Diego, Rancho Magazine, North County Times and SanDiego.com
hey don’t have a web pres- ence, they don’t Tweet and few people even know they exist. But, given their masterful use of craft beer as a key ingredi- ent in forward-thinking cuisine, it’s time for Stein Diego to get a mention in this column. The casual yet serious group of recreational gastronomes won’t share their identities due to an overflow of interest in a club that, due to capacity issues, has been closed for some time. It consists of members drawn from all corners of the local craft beer scene, from brewers to brewing company staffers, ingredient suppliers, bar employees, chefs and even media. Since 2010, the supper club has been meeting every few months for multi-course beer-pairing banquets where each member contributes one or several dishes built around a central theme. Last month, they tackled brunch, and like Super Bowl- bound defensive players stuffing the opposition, they brought it big time.
One dish, a take on the Can- tonese, lo mai gai, was inspired by dim sum brunches on Convoy Street. Prepared with four ex- tremely different beers to create one cohesive dish, the flavors of each individual brew still came through on their own. Traditional lo mai gai is a combination of chicken and rice wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. The Stein Diego version swapped chicken for succulent pork belly that was for braised three hours in a spicy- sweet, double IPA marinade. A combination of glutinous white rice (and black for tex- ture) was used to hold the dish together. The white rice was cooked in a mixture of water and wheat beer, while the black got a dose of Aecht Schlenkerla dop- pelbock. This smoked beer was also used, along with soy sauce and sriracha, to plump up dried shiitake mushrooms. The 30- minute soak produced some of the meatiest tasting mushrooms I’ve had in some time. Homemade Chinese-style sausages with ground shrimp, home-made chorizo and a blend of brown sugar, soy, sake and AleSmith Wee Heavy added a fla- vorful punch, along with a sunny- side-up quail egg garnish. Another dish used Ballast Point Navigator Doppelbock for a savory version of chicken and waffles. Its creator took his mother’s Pennsylvania-Dutch recipe as a base and added the beer to a giblet-infused gravy. It was also used in the buttermilk waffle batter.
Chicken was then grilled, revealing the most impressive
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“Pennsylvania Dutch Beer Chicken
& Waffles” - Beer Chicken with Beer Waffles & Baked Corn
Yield: 6 servings
1 small bag Mesquite 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 1 medium shallot
½ cup fresh herbs (basil, chive, sage), chopped
1 whole chicken, giblets reserved
14 ounces Ballast Point Navigator Doppelbock
2 cups chicken broth
Add the mesquite to the grill on the side so there will be no direct heat under the chicken and preheat to 200° F.
Combine the oil, shallot and herbs in the bowl of a food processor and blend. Pat the chicken until completely dry and coat with the oil mixture. Position the chicken so it is standing straight up atop the middle protruding portion of an angel food cake pan. Pour 4 ounces of the beer into the pan. Pour 4 ounces of beer into a small heat resistant container that will sit beneath the center hole, underneath the pan. Place the pan on the grill, being careful not to place it over direct heat, close the grill and allow the temperature to rise between 225° and 275° F. Cook the chicken for 1½ to 2 hours or until the thigh meat registers 180° F and the breast meat is at least 165° F. Remove the chicken from the grill and rest for 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the carcass and pull or chop into small pieces.
Place the chicken giblets and stock in a saucepan over medium- high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce by 50%. Strain the liquid and set aside. Pour off the fat for from the cake pan and reserve. Deglaze the cake pan with 4 ounces of beer and the reduced liquid. In a skillet, over medium heat, pour in 2 to 4 tablespoons
1¾ cups all-purpose flour 1 Tbsp baking powder 1 Tbsp raw sugar (optional)
½ tsp salt 3 large eggs
1 cup Ballast Point Navigator Doppelbock
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup buttermilk
Preheat waffle iron. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, beer, butter and buttermilk. Use your finger to make a well in the center of the dried ingredients and gradually pour in the wet mixture. Gently whisk together leaving some small lumps. Cook waffles in the waffle iron according to the manufactures instructions. Keep waffles warm in a 200° degree F oven until ready to serve.
2 to 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour 1 to 2 Tbsp raw sugar (optional) ¼ cup heavy cream 2 Beer Waffles (recipe follows), cut into fourths
Baked Corn (recipe online) chipotle peppers, stemmed and seeded, for garnish
of the reserved fat. Whisk in 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour (as much flour as fat) and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly, until smooth. Gradually whisk in the deglazing liquid until completely incorporated. Thin out the gravy with 1 to 2 ounces of the remaining beer, as needed. If the gravy is too bitter, whisk in raw sugar to taste. Strain the mixture and return to low heat. Whisk in the cream and keep warm.
To serve, stack two waffle quarters in an offset manner on the left side of a circular plate. Place a mound of the chicken meat atop the waffles and drizzle with gravy. Place a ramekin of baked corn on the right side of the plate and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh-ground chipotle peppers (using a grind-style cheese grater), if desired.
Pairing Suggestion: Enjoy with a malty beer like Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Brandy Barrel-Aged Doppelbock or Reef Rye Brown Ale. Have fun and go with a Manzanita Brewing Company’s Where There’s Smoke, adding to the smoke in the dish and peppers in the garnish. New English Explorer ESB would also be a great choice.
Beer chicken with beer waffles & baked corn. Photo: Kristina Blake, see more at www.secretsofthebelly.blogspot.com
A Creole-inspired take on Eggs in Purgatory. Photo: Kristina Blake, see more at www.secretsofthebelly.blogspot.com
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