Sunday, 10 June 2012

Hop Fried Chicken

Chicken and hops are two obsessions of mine. Bringing them together a few months ago, I tried to make Hopcorn Chicken but failed to get the hop flavour into it – I didn’t use enough and the spices overpowered it. I also used a hop pellet, which is harsher and more potent than the flower of the same variety. So, Take Two took a different approach: chicken legs and whole flower hops.

What I wanted was the hop flavour, aromatics, floral quality and a little of the oily bitterness. In my mind they all complement fried chicken’s typical herb and spice mix. Having grabbed a handful of Citra flowers for some Home Hopping, I used one of the leftover flowers and crushed it in a pestle and mortar. Into that I added salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, bay, cinnamon, paprika, turmeric, garlic salt, brown sugar and a little flour. I coated chicken legs in the mix and then cooked them in a hot oven until sizzling and golden (ignore that the name says ‘Fried’... frying food freaks me out so I go for the oven instead).

This time I got a lot of hop flavour into it. A citrusy bitterness, reminiscent of grapefruit pith, left a tang in the background to all the other spices, like the smoke left behind after fireworks have exploded. Next to it I had some of my homemade hot sauce, made with Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA, and a cooling mountain of coleslaw made with beer mayonnaise (saison went in). A fantastic trio. The Hop Fried Chicken (aka Yakima Fried Chicken) is definitely something I’ll be cooking again – the bitterness added a little extra pow.

A triple-whammy of beer and food cooking. Sometimes I do leave out the beer when I cook dinner...

Saturday, 9 June 2012

'Pint, please'

I worked three days on a bar at a food festival last weekend. Some knew exactly what they wanted and strode to the bar with purpose; many (I guess) ordered by their preference for lager, ale or stout; lots asked for a taster before ordering; and then some just asked for a pint.

'Which would you like?' We'd say. 'There's lager, pale ale or stout.' A blank face looked back. Lager is what most went for. A default choice.

This was a street food festival but it was also in the middle of tourist London, so the crowd was mixed. What I couldn't believe was the number of people that just walked to the bar and asked for beer without specifying anything else. Don't people care what they drink? They must have a general preference for something and be aware that more than one beer exists, right?

You wouldn't walk into a sandwich shop and just order 'a sandwich, please', would you? So why would it happen with beer?