Friday, March 4, 2011

We'll Have Beer with that Chicken Please

Mike the Gay Beer Guy is back for his monthly posting on fabulous pairings with beer. Up this month, a delicious chicken dish. You don't have to brew your own beer to make this, of course, although if you're inspired to take that one, Mike's the guy to show you how...

Hi Janet and Rachel -
First off, I have an announcement to make! Due to the GREAT success from my entries in LTIR, I have decided to start my own beer blog. Basically, it comes down to this: I have received so many great comments about my posts, but so many folks read the beer lingo like a foreign language. In order to go into more beer related detail (and to cover a wider range of ideas), it became necessary to go down a new avenue. Of course I’ll still be writing for LTIR once a month, but I’ll make sure the focus is food related.
Check in at regularly for posts about beer, brewing, eating, and everything else out there!

One of my favorite styles out there is the Belgian Dubbel — one sip and you can taste so many things: malt, dried figs, raisins, spice, amongst others. I have made my Dubbel recipe a few times, but by far the best batch is the first one from 3 years ago. I didn’t really know what I was doing back then, so I’m surprised the bottles I have left are still palatable. As this is a GREAT beer to drink, it is also pretty easy to cook with, too! How do I justify cooking with a beer I’d want to drink? Not easily! But this one certainly lends itself quite well to the purpose (maybe that’s why I have so many bottles around the house?!?!?!). Like wine, I recommend saving the REALLY good stuff for drinking... I would never cook with a Trappist Dubbel, but there are some great domestic varieties available for both as an ingredient and consumption that don’t carry the subtleties of great Belgian beers and, quite honestly, don’t cost as much.

For this recipe, I thicken my sauce with a roux, but feel free to omit the extra fat
and reduce the sauce naturally; keep in mind that as beer boils, it’s going to get more bitter, and you might find it necessary to add some sugar or honey to compensate. You also don’t need to use a Dubbel. A nice amber or brown ale would work nicely! Just make sure the beer is balanced towards the malty end of the spectrum, rather than the hoppy end. I’ll list some possibilities in the ingredients! Bon apetite!

Chicken and Herbs in a Belgian Dubbel Sauce

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons butter (Everything tastes better with butter!!)
2 tablespoons (plus maybe a bit more) Flour
2 tablespoons EVOO (maybe more)
4 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves, cleaned and patted dry with paper towels
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium shallot or 2 small shallots, minced or in thin slices
1 12-oz bottle of Belgian Dubbel Beer
1-2 teaspoon dried tarragon (or whatever herb you having available... Thyme? Sage?)
1 bay leaf
Salt/Pepper to taste
For the beer, I of course use my own (the recipe follows)... if you don’t brew or have a seemingly endless supply in your beer cellar, the classic Dubbel example comes from
Westmalle, one of the six remaining Trappist breweries in the world. Other examples you
should try come from Chimay, New Belgium, or even Allagash breweries. I’m also a fan of
the Bornem Dubbel, but I would save it to drink... I don’t think it would taste good in cooking, although I admit I’ve never tried it! You might also consider trying Dogfish Head’s Raison d’Etre or maybe even Newcastle; I have tried this also with some of my English-style beers with GREAT succes!

Start by making your roux. Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon (or a whisk) until you have a creamy paste. Although ideally you should have equal amounts of fat and flour, I often need a touch more flour. Continue to cook the mixture over low heat for 10-15 min, or even a little longer. Your roux should come to the consistency of light peanut butter, but a little lighter or darker is fine! I’ve read that you shouldn’t use butter if you want to cook the roux past a light brown stage, but I’ve certainly gone darker and never had a problem... feel free to substitute a different
fat for the butter if you feel uncomfortable (or suddenly health conscious).

In a 12-inch skillet or dutch oven (make sure whatever you use has a lid), heat the EVOO over medium/high heat. This should be done as the roux is cooking, maybe a few minutes into the whole process. Reduce heat to medium or less and brown your chicken on each side (make sure it is seasoned with salt and pepper), maybe 4-5 min per side. Once the chicken is browned, remove it from the pan to a plate. Add the shallot and garlic to the now chickenless pan and saute for a few minutes until everything has been cooked through; you may need to add some more EVOO.

When the shallot and garlic have cooked, deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tarragon and bay leaf, and bring the pan up to a boil. Add your roux and reduce the heat to low (simmer); cover and cook for 20 minutes. When adding the roux, start by incorporating about half; if you want your sauce thicker go ahead and add more. (You can actually store unused roux in an air-tight container in the fridge.) During the last 5-8 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken breasts are, add the chicken back to the pan to finish cooking and to heat through. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, asparagus, green beans, roasted carrots, butternut squash, even corn (as we used)... the ideas are endless!

Although you could drink a nice Dubbel with this dish, I actually think it would be more interesting to go with something somewhat sour — a nice Lambic (please nothing too vinegary), either straight (hahaha, even I laugh) or with fruit, would be great. Maybe try something from Jolly Pumpkin Brewery or possibly even a Saison, the classic example being Saison Duont. For our dinner, I paired this dish with a bottle from my first even hard cider. I still think it needs a few more months to go, but overall it worked well; you might want to try Woodchuck or possibly Ace Pear.

(Beer) Recipe of the Month

This is the first recipe for a Dubbel that I brewed; since I was then a new brewer, the
recipe is based on 5 gallons at the end of the boil, rather than the 6 I use now for most of my recipes. Don’t hate me. I’ve tried a few different yeasts for this too... but I keep coming back to the Chimay yeast, which you can buy commercially or even culture from the bottle! I’m not worried about IBUs (bittering units) for this recipe, since most of bitterness drops out as you age this... I’m sure this Dubbel will keep for at least 5 years, if not longer! The bottle I used for making the chicken was from 2009... notice how it was CRYSTAL clear just a bit longer than 2 year later!

Belgian Dubbel
OG 1.068, FG 1.010, ABV 7.5%
10 lbs Base Malt (try to find something European)
1 lb Dark Candi Syrup
½ lb Cara Munich Malt
½ lb Special B Malt
½ lb Cane Sugar (Table sugar)
1 oz Tradition (usually 5-7% AA) for 60 min
WLP500 - Trappist Ale Yeast (make an appropriate starter!!!)
Mash at 149*. Ferment starting in the upper 60*s and let the sucker rise up to ensure
fermentation has completed! Traditionally, this beer is served with a high carbonation, but I like something in the mid range. Honestly, it’s your beer, it’s up to you...

For info on how to brew beer, check out my blog at!!! Other future topics include yeast starters, pairings, gadgets, and all other things beer related!

No comments:

Post a Comment