Here you have Beer-brined Grilled Pork Chops with Roasted Cipolline Onions and Teeny-Tiny Roasted Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach (we figured we redeemed ourselves with a green vegetable). But we couldn’t stop there! We made Beer Ice Cream and garnished it with crispy, crunchy salted blister peanuts. Shut up! We were over a beer-barrel of foodie delight at how delicious everything turned out, considering we made up these recipes on the fly and – full confession – were dutifully “tasting” New Belgium’s brews throughout our beer cooking adventure!
The pork chops swam around in a brining solution of Fat Tire Pale Ale, water, apple cider vinegar, honey and kosher salt for about eight hours before they hit a hot grill, and while they were really high-quality chops (given to me by my friend Bob, a farmer and owner of Harvest Moon Farms, from one of his Red Wattle Pigs), I gotta think this brining thing would turn any pork chop into a marvel of tenderness and flavor. The sides were just things I like and things I figured would pair well with the pork and the beer.
As for the ice cream: we were going to do beer floats with vanilla ice cream and New Belgium’s 1554 Black Ale, but then inspiration struck! We were like, “why use vanilla ice cream? Let’s make BEER ice cream!” We had little luck finding recipe guidance online, so we made it up and it was DIVINE! The 1554 Black Ale has a mild sweetness to it, reminiscent of chocolate and maybe molasses and makes GREAT ICE CREAM! And because beer and peanuts are such good friends, we garnished with some super-crunchy, salted blister peanuts (I find them at Trader Joe’s). Smashingly delicious.
So wanna re-create these cheerful, beerful dishes? Alright, grab a beer and read on!
Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops
2 bone-in pork chops
1/4 C kosher salt
1 C Fat Tire Amber Ale
2 C water
1/8 C honey
What You Do:
1) EIGHT HOURS IN ADVANCE: mix up all the liquid ingredients – I used a quart-size zip bag – and plop the pork chops in. Squeeze out as much air as you can and zip it WELL. Put the whole lot into the fridge, on top of a plate, so the chops stay submerged (more or less). Leave it be for eight hours.
2) Remove from fridge about an hour before you want to grill, to let them come to room temp. Light a grill (or you can heat a grill pan on your stove, over high heat). Take the chops out, chuck the liquid, and use a paper towel to pat the chops dry. Rub with a bit of oil (olive, vegetable, I don’t think it really matters) and season with a bit of fresh-ground pepper – you don’t really need any more salt (I did season with salt, but I won’t next time).
3) Grill over high heat for about 4-5 minutes per side, depending on how thick your chops are. Cook to 140 degrees, minimal, for medium done-ness (no one likes rare pork). Let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with your sides and enjoy with a glass of New Belgium’s Fat Tire was our favorite with the pork chops! Cheers!
Beer Ice Cream
OK, I now share with you the pride and joy of our New Belgium cheerful, beerful meal – dessert! We decided to go the “cheater’s route” to ice cream (the no-cook kind) because honestly, it’s delicious and it’s easy. We adapted a recipe for vanilla ice cream, and used my Cuisinart ice cream maker (takes 30 minutes to make homemade ice cream! It’s insane!) It had amazing flavor. The beer flavor was not overwhelming – just delicious. And I spiked it with a bit of black pepper, just for fun – it nicely countered the sweetness of the 1554 Black Ale. You definitely need a strong, dark beer for this, in order for it to triumph over all the creamy, dairy deliciousness that’s going on. I’ll definitely make this again. And maybe you will, too. Here’s how to do it:
1 C half-and-half
1 C heavy cream (whipping cream)
1/3 C whole milk
2/3 C New Belgium 1554 Black Ale
3/4 C brown sugar (I used light)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
What You Do:
1) In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients. Stir until brown sugar dissolves.
2) Dump mixture into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker (warning: they aren’t kidding when they say that bowl has to live for 24 hours in the freezer before you use it), and flip the switch. Let her ‘rip for 30 minutes.
3) Transfer the ice cream (which will be a little gloppy and melty, not fully frozen) into a one-quart container, put the lid on the stash it in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.
4) To serve: we put the ice cream into tall pilsner glasses, just for fun, sprinkling a few peanuts in between layers, and some on top. DELISH! Hope you enjoy!
RECIPES FOR SIDES TO THE PORK CHOPS FOLLOW
Roasted Cipollines and Teeny Potatoes
1 lb cipolline onions (these are the sort of flat, flying-saucer-shaped onions; you could also use pearl onions)
A couple Tbls of olive oil
1 tsp fresh, chopped thyme
Salt & pepp
What You Do:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Trim and peel the onions. You can do it the old-fashioned way (trim top and bottom and use a paring knife to peel), or you could pop them into a pot of boiling water for precisely ONE MINUTE and then dump into a colander and the peel slips right off.
3) In a cast-iron skillet or on a baking sheet lined with non-stick foil, toss your onions with some olive oil, just enough to coat them, and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepp. Pop them into the oven for 30 minutes. At 30 minutes, check them, and use tongs to turn them. They should develop a nice, caramelized exterior. Turn and cook for about 10 more minutes.
4) Remove from oven and let sit while you get the rest of the your act together.
I found these CUTE teeny-tiny potatoes at Trader Joe’s and they’re just fun. But you could really use any kind of spud – quartered or halved Yukon Golds, red potatoes, whatever you like / can find.
1/2 – 1 lb. potatoes
Olives oil – just enough to coat
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper
What You Do:
1) Really, it’s the same deal as the onions: toss the spuds just to coat them in olive oil and season with rosemary, salt and pepp. Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 35 -45 minutes (depending on size). At 30 minutes, toss them / turn them to get all sides crispy. That’s it!
2)Remove from oven after 30-45 minutes, and let them hang out with the onions while you saute some spinach (which takes, like, 5 minutes.)
This is such an easy go-to veg for me. Minimal oil, tons of flavor. And I happen to love spinach. Know this: a 12-ounce bag of spinach will feed two (barely). Spinach cooks down to NOTHING so buy what you think might be a ridiculous amount.
12-16 ounces fresh spinach leaves
1-2 Tbls olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves
Juice of maybe 1/3 of a lemon
What You Do:
1) Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium heat for two minutes; add garlic cloves; heat for two more minutes.
2) Pile in your ridiculous amount of spinach, stir it about for two minutes and then put the hat on the pan. Cook for two more minutes, til it’s all wilted, but still bright green. Season with salt, spritz with lemon juice and serve.