Thursday, September 15, 2011

Precariously Poached Pears

When temperatures suddenly drop into the forties for the first time in months I get excited. This means it's oven time, baby!

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!

Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

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.

Hofbräu München Original

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.

Allagash Tripel Poaching

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.

Precarious Poaching Pears

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.

Tripel Poached Pears Stuffed with Mascarpone and Toasted Hazelnuts

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!

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