I won't spend too much time in the bloggers hair shirt, but I've been consumed with working two jobs lately in the hopes of shortening our timeline to get into a keel boat. So, time for blogging has been consumed by paying projects.
I do want to join in on Carol Anne's food writer challenge. I have three meals I've made in the past couple of weeks that were new for me. First, I made a recipe for Fiesta Chicken out of a recent issue of Cruising magazine. Came out pretty good, but no pictures to prove it. More fun, and more interesting to me, however, I did steamed clams and a paella twice in the last week. First time around I used a nice bulk chorizo from a local grocery and it was nearly a perfect meal. The heat was not overwhelming, but it definitely inspired me to tilt the IPA bottle quicker a couple of times. The second time I made the meal, the kids were here, so had to spice it down. The grocery man had a nice Spanish chorizo that was very mild and worked well for a kiddie meal; it was in tube form, so I put the kids to work helping me peel away the casing and break up the sausage. I'm not as interested in that one, so let's get on to the one I am~
I spent my teenage years around New Orleans and love well-spiced foods. What I ate down there growing up was done nearly exactly like my paella recipe. Unfortunately, nearly everywhere outside of NOLA that I try for their Cajun or Creole recipes, substitutes well-spiced with over-spiced. Simply stomping on the chili pepper accelerator does not make something Cajun, my friends.
As for the beer part of the meal, I was trying to some beer pairing. The guys I was preparing dinner for are friends with which I've been doing a meal once a month for a few years. We've gotten pretty good at sharing some great wines and have even gone in to purchase some wines together. I wanted to take a break from all of that classiness and notch it down a bit. Anybody can pair wines, or find out how to do it.
My challenge was figuring out what beer paired well with each aspect of the meal. So, for the salty appetizers (thinly sliced Serrano ham and steamed clams), I chose a dry Irish stout. It was local, so not Guinness or Murphys, but probably a better choice.
For the main paella course, the IPA was a perfect balance with the hoppy-ness able to cut through the heat of the chorizo and peppers. The IPAs I used were from Ninkasi (I looked them up, expecting the name to be a mashup of some sort; turns out, Ninkasi is the Greek goddess of fermentation. So, say your prayers!), a brewery in Eugene, Oregon (Track City U.S.A., if you didn't know...). I had the Spring Reign seasonal, the Double Red, and, what is currently my favorite beer, Total Domination IPA. I know that the first two don't have IPA in their names, but trust me, their IBUs were well into IPA territory.
I loved making the paella. It is very close to my jambalaya recipe that I've been using for thirty years. I went and got a carbon steel paella pan that I'll keep and use often. However, I think you could probably do the whole thing in a wok just as easily. It seems the key is getting the heat evenly distributed as you work your way through the process of adding ingredients and letting them soak up the oils and saute.
The final course was a raw-foods pie that my friend the doctor brought along. We had a Belgian Lambic dark cherry that had a lovely balance between the light fizzy body and the fruit flavor.
I went here for my paella recipe and here for the steamed clams.