That's right, I called you baby!
Jen had mentioned deep dish pizza as a dinner idea the other night so I figured that was a fantastic idea. Last time I made deep dish pizza I wasn't pleased with my pan. Tonight was the time for vindication. Victory would be mine!
I think I'd prefer to call this pizza pie since I did it in a pie dish. I used some pizza dough, cooked sweet Italian sausage, pizza sauce, and fresh mozzarella and baked it all in the oven until it was nicely browned.
I remembered my last deep dish pizza being just a little too bready so I went heavy on the sause and cheese and this one was a much better version.
For beer last night I paired a Belgian Trapist beer with a heavily seasoned stew. This goes against all the beer pairing advice I've ever learned. I couldn't really outdo that tonight so I paired this German original lager from Hofbräu München. I guess I should have paired it with a Chicago area (or Polish) beer but there aren't a ton of those available in this part of the country. Therefore I went with the next best thing: German and sausages.
This beer was a huge disappointment. While I recently had a Heineken and was impressed with how it did not taste like the skunky Heineken I was used to, I was disappointed to find out that this beer did taste expactly like a skunky Heineken.
If you grew up in the Chicago area you know that there's only one acceptable dessert to follow up such a meal. Yes, that's right, poached pears!
Every since I saw this episode of "The Beer Hunter" where Michael Jackson has a beer pairing meal I was intrigued by the pears he had which were poached in beer. I couldn't remember which beer he used but after watching the video above I saw that the chef used Hoegaarden.
I wanted to use something a little darker like a Tripel. Wanting to keep the dish within some sort of budget I opted to use this Allagash Tripel in lieu of a Belgian Tripel. Allagash makes a fantastic Tripel at a third the price and I figured after being cooked not many would be able to pick up on the difference. Certainly not me or Jen anyway.
In addition to the beer I also added about the same volume of water and maybe a half cup of sugar.
Since the smallest pot I had didn't submerge the pears completely I had to get creative. I don't recommend trying this method. I watched the pot the whole time to make sure my savings in buying an American Tripel did not result in setting fire to our kitchen.
I hollowed out the pears prior to poaching them and after they cooled I stuffed them with a mixture of Mascarpone, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and chopped toasted hazelnuts as well as a small amount of cream cheese to stiffen up the body a bit. I also reduced down the cooking liquid and lused it as a syrup for the base of the plate. This is standard practice in traditional red wine poached pears so I figured I'd give it a go with this beer version. After reducing it down enough to make it a syrup it was quite flavorful and melded nicely with the marscapone and pears.
The combination of the toasted hazelnuts, Lyle's Golden Syrup, and Mascarpone had an unusual effect: it tasted just like kettle corn. I'd never really considered Belgian ale, fall fruit, and kettle corn as a natural pairing but tonight's experiment has really got the wheels turning.
Stay tuned for my kettle corn and beer pie, coming soon to an over-written food blog near you!