A Pint of Knowledge

Heavenly Pairing

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A Belgian Dubbel is a true treat to those who love dark, rich and complex beers that pair well with hearty food.  The raisins in the following recipe compliment the dark fruit flavors of the beer, while the carbonation and notes of spice in the beer help cut the sweetness of the rich sauce.  While nearly any Belgian or Belgian-style Dubbel will do, I tried this particular dish with a Dubbel by Westmalle, a Trappist brewery where the beer is produced under the watchful eyes of the monks of the Trappist Abbey of Westmalle.

I suggest making homemade spaetzle (recipe further below) to accompany the pork, but egg noodles will do in a pinch.  The pork comes out amazingly tender, so be patient during the relatively long cooking time.  It is well worth the wait.

  

Slow Braised Pork with Raisins and Balsamic 

Serves 3-4 people

1-1/2 to 2-pound boneless pork butt, cut into 3-4 equal pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, diced
1-1/2 cups raisins soaked in warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon thyme

Preheat oven to 325°F. Salt and pepper the pork. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all four sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate; discard fat in pot. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in same pot over medium heat. Drain the water from the raisins, then add onions and raisins and sauté until onions are soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and stir for about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and bring mixture to boil.  Cook until slightly reduced, about 2-3 minutes. Add broth, all herbs, and pork with juices from plate. Bring to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake (braise) for 45 minutes. Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer.  Remove pork from pot, and place on top of spaetzel (or noodles) and cover.

Boil cooking liquid over high heat until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.  Ladle from pot, leaving any fat or oils behind.  Pour over pork and serve.  

Spaetzle
2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup minced parsley
Butter to taste

Lightly grease a large bowl with butter.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, blend flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in eggs and milk, and mix to form a soft batter. Mix in the parsley.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Taking about a 1/2 cup of batter at a time and using a flat spatula, press the batter directly into boiling water through 1/4-inch holes on coarse grater or colander.  Stir spaetzle gently and boil for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, scoop spaetzle from pot, drain well, and transfer to buttered bowl.

  

Definition: Trappist Beer

 

Only seven breweries in the world are authorized to call label their beers as Trappist.  Six are from Belgium (Orval, Chimay, Westvleteren, Rochefort, Westmalle and Achel), and one is from The Netherlands (Koningshoeven).  These beers must be brewed within the walls of a Trappist abbey, either directly by or under supervision of Trappist monks.  The monks started brewing to both provide for their own consumption and also to provide funds for the upkeep of the abbey and their charitable works.

 

Trappist beers are typically either Dubbels (dark, rich ales with flavors of dried fruit, brown sugar, and caramel) or Tripels (light in color, but strong in alcohol ales where often the flavor of the particular grains used comes through).  In both Dubbels and Tripels, notes of spice, distinctive to each brewery, are a result of the particular strain of yeast used to ferment (no actual spice is added to the brew itself). 

Many often believe the terms “Dubbel” and “Tripel” refer to the strength of the beer.  However, the mathematics are not exact… a Dubbel at around 7% ABV isn’t double the strength of a typical lager, and a Tripel at around 10% isn’t triple-strength.  The terms may derive from the relative amount of grain used.  And why, may you ask, can you not find a Trappist “Single”?  It is actually called a “Simple” is a low-strength beer sometimes brewed by the monks soley for their own consumption.

 

 

Beer Quote:

“In heaven there is no beer…
That’s why we drink it here!”

                                    – Frankie Yankovic

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