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Steak is typically off my menu when the weather turns cold.  I usually don’t even see the point in eating steak unless it is cooked on my charcoal grill.  But my wife found a great marinade recipe (and no, the marinade did not include beer!), and with a nice bottle of stout I’d been wanting to try on hand, I gave the broiler a try, and was so happy I did.

 

Broiled Flank Steak with Mushrooms

 

For the steak:

1 to 1-1/2 lb Flank Steak

1 medium onion

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tamari or regular soy sauce

 

Season steak with salt and pepper, and put into a large plastic zip-top bag.  Chop onion, and stir together in a bowl with the other ingredients.  Pour into bag with steak, and marinade for several hours, or up to 2 days, turning occasionally.

 

When ready to cook, remove steak from bag, discard marinade, and put onto broiler pan.  Set oven rack to 3” to 4” below broiler, and set broiler on high.  Cook anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the steak and your desired doneness.

 

Transfer steak to a cutting board, and cut at a 45-degree angle across the grain into thin slices.  Serve topped with mushrooms and sauce per recipe below:

 

For the mushrooms:

3/4 lb portobello mushrooms

3/4 lb white mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 stick of butter

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2-1/2 tablespoons tamari or regular soy sauce

1/8 cup sugar

 

Wisk together the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar in a bowl.  Set aside.

 

Halve, then slice the portobellos into 1/4” thick slices.  Put 1/4 of a stick of butter in a pan over medium heat, add about half of the chopped onion, cook for 1 minute, then add the portabellas.  Stir occasionally, until mushrooms are well-browned and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan.  Set aside in a bowl.

 

Slice the white mushrooms into 1/4” thick slices.  Put the other 1/4 stick of butter in the pan, and add the rest of the chopped onion.  Cook for 1 minute, then add the white mushrooms.  Again, stir occasionally, until mushrooms are well-browned and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan.  Increase the heat to medium-high, add the already cooked portobellos, along with the vinegar-soy sauce mixture.  Allow to boil for approximately 3 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly.  Serve over sliced steak.

 

*****

 

My perfect beer pairing for this steak is Green Flash Stout.  Only recently available in New Jersey, Green Flash Brewing was founded six years ago just outside the micro-brew mecca of San Diego, California.  Well-known for their hop-heavy West Coast IPA and other hoppy brews, their stout is a more balanced offering, but still with a noticeable hop presence.

 

It pours a deep ruby-cola hue, almost black, with a frothy, foamy head the color of chocolate milk.  An initial caramel and brown sugar sweetness is soon followed by an earthy middle of cocoa powder and bakers chocolate.  The finish is earthy as well, with flavors of roasted walnut, sasparilla, and bitter root; just enough bitterness to balance the initial sweetness.  The mouthfeel is thick and creamy; rich enough to be memorable, but not so rich that you can’t finish a pint or two.

 

The sweet, bitter, and earthy flavors in the stout both compliment and contrast the sweet and tangy flavors in the steak marinade and mushroom sauce.  While both the steak and the stout are extrememly enjoyable on their own, the pairing brings both to new heights.

 

Definition: Stout

The stout style was originated by the Guinness Brewery of Ireland, who brewed several types of porter, including their “Extra Stout Porter”, a particularly rich and flavorful take on the porter style of beer so popular in England at the time.  Eventually, the word Porter was dropped from the name, and Guinness became the mother of all stouts to come.  Key to a stout is the roasted and chocolate barley malts that provide the distinctive flavor and color to the style.  While I’ve found quite a few stouts over the years I enjoy more than Guinness, I must still tip my hat to (and enjoy the occasional pint of) the original.

 

Beer Quote:

 “Fermentation equals civilization.”

                                     – John Ciardi

 

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While Germany and the Czech Republic are wonderful historic centers of brewing, and brewing in the U.S. has grown by leaps and bounds since the start of the craft beer movement, ask any true beer connoisseur what the ideal destination is for beer, and the reply will most likely be Belgium. The relatively tiny country of Belgium (about the size of Maryland) is home to well over a hundred breweries, among them some of the most renowned, unique and eclectic in the world. Saison, lambic, gueze, dubbel, tripel, and witbier are among over a dozen styles initially created by Belgian brewers.

It’s no wonder that many American brewers have looked to Belgium for inspiration. Phil Markowski, Brewmaster at Southampton Publick House, has created his own take on a classic Belgian Wit (a.k.a. White) beer. Southampton Double White Ale is essentially a double-strength (7.2% ABV) rendition of the traditional Belgian wheat beer brewed with orange and coriander. It has a perfume-like floral and spice aroma, and a rich golden slightly hazy hue. A taste starts with clover-honey sweetness, followed by the distinctive citrus and spice flavor, with notes of white raisins. Tiny bubbles of carbonation lighten the slightly syrupy mouthfeel. Altogether, a complex, rich, yet refreshing brew. Typically released during summer, the relatively high alcohol means it will keep just fine through winter.

And while beer may be the beverage of choice in Belgium, the national dish of Belgium is mussels. So what better pairing for a Belgian-style ale than mussels steamed in beer?

Mussels in White Ale
(Makes 2 main courses, or 4 appetizer portions)

3 strips of bacon, chopped
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped fennel bulb
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups of beer
(I used 1 cup Southampton Double White and 1 cup amber lager, but feel free to experiment with different Belgian-style ales)
2 lbs mussels, scrubbed with beards removed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream

Cook bacon in heavy pot over medium-high heat until browned, then add butter. Heat the butter until foam subsides. Then add onion, fennel, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot, stirring occasionally until vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes.

Add beer and bring to a gentle boil. Add mussels to the pot, and cover, stirring occasionally. Once mussels open wide, in about 5 minutes, remove open mussels from pot and transfer to a bowl. Discard any unopened mussels. Remove pot of remaining broth from heat, and add mustard and sour cream, whisking until combined. Divide mussels between 2-4 bowls, and then pour the broth over the top.

Perfect with a glass of Double White, or whatever Belgian-style beer you used for the broth. This makes a hearty, warming, but not too heavy meal on a cold winter’s day, but is equally enjoyable any time of year.

Beer Quote

“The Good Lord has changed water into wine, so how can drinking beer be a sin.”
                                                                    – Sign near a Belgian Monastery