Of all the times a lowly food blogger should admit he doesn’t get beer, the day before a media event to help launch a new locally-owned and operated beer bistro probably isn’t appropriate. That is especially true if said food blogger is invited.
Still, while I don’t take well to drinking beer, I have visited a few breweries in my time, learning aspects of the age old art of converting grain to golden elixer. And, I love cooking with it. Beer imparts wondrous flavours to dishes.
Dark beers like stout or porter work surprisingly well with sweet and savoury applications. Pair a drier stout or coffee porter with spice to marinate or braise dark meat. Think luscious brown gravies and pulled beef short ribs. Guinness pulled short rib poutine anyone? Pair sweeter stouts with dark chocolate. Think rich, but light cakes or dense brownies. The combination also works well in custard-based ice creams.
Lighter wheat beers, lagers, and fruit beers work well when marinating pork. They seem to tenderize the meat. Pale ales lend to making airy batters for deep frying. Think fish and chips and tempura vegetables.
Beer can also be used to cure food.
This past Christmas, Jenn and I again followed a recipe from Restauranteur Stephen Beaument and Chef Brian Morin’s The Beer Bistro Cookbook for gravlax. First, the fish, this time arctic char, was dry cured with coriander and orange and lemon zest. Then, the fish was wet cured with a Belgian-style white beer, whose flavour profile includes coriander and citrus.
The beer finished gravlax made a wonderful appetizer. Suffice it to say, Toronto’s Beer Bistro (18 King Street E.) is on my must-visit list.
Brothers Beer Bistro
Closer to home, Ottawa’s soon-to-open Brothers Beer Bistro aims to celebrate craft beer like Beer Bistro. Beer will not only be something to pair with food, like fine wine. It will be an ingredient. This “beer-first” philosophy, according to the Brothers’ media-release, is what owners Patrick Asselin and Nick Ringuette feel should be the natural response to the growing popularity of small independent brewers in Ontario.
No strangers to realm of beer and food, Asselin is a former bartender and manager at Restauranteur Stephen Beckta’s Play Food and Wine (1 York Street). Ringuette is a former bartender and manager at The Black Thorn cafe (15 Clarence Street).
At the helm of Brothers’ kitchen is another Beckta connection, Chef Darren Flowers. Flowers honed his skills, working for award winning chef Michael Moffatt at Play and Beckta: Dining and Wine (226 Nepean Street). Flowers most recently worked for Chef Steve Wall of Luxe (47 York Street) as his Sous.
Asselin and Ringuette promise a great place to eat and relax, no matter if you are new to beer or a beer connoisseur. Flowers promises a bistro menu, featuring seasonal dishes made with beer and local ingredients. The intent is to provide an alternative to more pedestrian pub fare that is commonplace at certain brew pub establishments. Craft breweries can concentrate on making good beer. Brothers will concentrate on making good food. No compromises.
We at foodiePrints have high hopes for Brothers, which is situated in a renovated space in the ByWard Market (366 Dalhousie Street) that was once a sushi restaurant called Takara. Some of my first tastes of raw fish and Sapporo came from visits to Takara. As someone who has, but an elementary understanding of beer pairing and cooking with beer, I hope to be inspired at Brothers.
Speaking of which, the following is my first attempt at beer-brined jerk chicken.
It is a take on grilling and barbecue expert Steve Adams’ inspired jerk chicken recipe, which he and Team Ceder Grilling Co. put together for Steam Whistle Brewing. Adams’ original recipe employed Steam Whistles’ signature pilsner. I had no pilsner to work with so again employed Hoegaarden Wheat Beer.
What You’ll Need:
- 2 broiler-fryer chickens, spatchcocked (butterflied)
- Beer Brine
- 6 tbsp brown sugar
- 5 tbsp kosher salt
- handful of dried red chiles
- 3 whole star anise pods
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups Belgian-style white beer
- Jerk Paste
- 1/4 cup Belgian-style white beer
- 4 green jalapeno chile peppers, seeded and chopped (for the adventurous, substitute scotch bonnet peppers)
- 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp ginger, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 2 tsp all spice, ground
- 1 tsp nutmeg, ground
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar (or coconut vinegar)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil (or canola oil)
- Prepare the brine by adding the water, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a pot set to medium heat.
- Heat the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl and pour in the beer.
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- If not already spatchcocked (butterflied), spatchcock the chickens by removing the back bones with a pair of kitchen sheers or a chef’s knife. I removed the keel bones. This is completely optional. Cut the cartilage just above the keel bone and press the chicken flat, otherwise.
- Place the spatchcocked chickens in a sealable container.
- Pour the cooled brine into the container and seal it.
- Place the container in the fridge for 3 hours.
- Prepare the jerk paste by adding the ingredients save for the vegetable oil to a food processor.
- Pulse the mixture together.
- When combined, set the processor to low speed and slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube.
- Set the paste aside.
- Remove the chickens from the brine and discard the brine.
- Rinse the chickens in cold water.
- Pat dry the chickens with a paper towel.
- Place the chickens on a tray and coat the chickens in the jerk paste, rubbing it under the skins as much as possible.
- Cover the chickens with plastic wrap and place the tray in the fridge for a half hour.
- Preheat the outdoor grill.
- Grill the chickens on medium-low until the dark meat reaches 165F, using an instaread thermometer. The white meat should reach 150F.
- Remove the chickens from the grill and let them rest.
- Carve and serve!
Smacking of spices, herbs, heat, and background beery notes, this jerk chicken was a delicious addition to a potluck feast. I will definitely be attempting it again.
And, I look forward to Brothers Beer Bistro’s media event and grand opening!
Brothers Beer Bistro
366 Dalhousie Street
Tags: beer, Brothers Beer Bistro, ByWard Market, chicken, featured