Everyone has different “periods” in their life and work. Picasso had his blues, Apron Anxiety has her one-pot wonders, and apparently, I am smack in the middle of a beer braising period. I can’t get enough of marinating huge pieces of cheap, fatty meat in vats of beer for 24 hours and then braising them in said marinade for hours on end.
Because I’ve been home resting for a few days, J hit the grocery store during Sunday’s blizzard, clearly after everyone else in the surrounding areas. He called me from the store, and as he recited the bare bones of what was in the store, I brainstormed. One of the only “decent” meat products left was a huge package of pork shoulder. Done and done. And immediately, a plan was born.
But I can’t take full credit for the insanity of this meal. My inspiration, as often these days, came from the glorious beer fridge in our basement, and more directly, from the beautiful wonder that is Founder’s Breakfast Stout. This beer holds a special place in my heart, mainly because it’s just that damn good. Even my friend Rebekah, who is a self-proclaimed “really only wine drinker” digs this beer. (So much so, that she’ll tell you if you’re ever in the same room with both her and the beer.) If you took the best oatmeal stout and the best coffee stout, made them both 10 times better and then married them, you’d have something that still wasn’t as good as this beer. If you have the opportunity, for real? Try it.
For me, this beer has been begging to be cooked with, but just an ordinary chili wouldn’t do for me. Marinating meat in beer does impart the flavor, for sure, but I needed to bring the flavor of this beer to the forefront of the meal. And that, my friends, meant a sauce. A nice, thick, hearty barbecue sauce.
We ate this on small, sweet, slider rolls, but I wound up eating most of it with a fork. Go with your gut.
So here’s the real trick to making this if you don’t have this phenom of a beer in your grasp. Use your favorite Oatmeal or Coffee Stout. Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal is wonderful, and I love Southern Tier and Bell’s for their Java Stouts. Just taste the beer first, pick out the flavors and notes you want to emphasize and balance, and go for it. For the Breakfast Stout, that meant balancing the bitter with some spice, and adding some sweetness for total domination.
I could literally go on for hours about this particular meal, as I basically did last night while J and I ate. It was one of the rockstar moments for me, which lately I’ve been feeling less and less as I constantly focus on making things perfect…for you! But this was a meal based solely on intuition and love, and it reminded me why I love the two things that are at the forefront of huge importance in my life: beer and food.
This BBQ sauce by the way? I may wind up making 1,000 batches and giving it as gifts. Although that’s a lot of really good beer. The drippings from the braise were so insane that at J’s request, I drained it all into mason jars, saving it for a future chili or stew. Likely soon.
If you’re not a pork lover (ahem, Apron) try this with last week’s beef roast instead. But whatever you do, make it during a snowy day, when you’re dying for your house to smell like wonder and you can’t wait to impress someone.
Especially if that someone is you.
If you have beer-cooking questions, let me know! I’d love to wax poetic for you…