Claire Bullen

The Beer Lover’s Table: Wild Garlic Pierogi with Caramelised Onions and Left Handed Giant x Whiplash There, There Rye IPA

Wild garlic is one of my favourite signifiers of spring. Prized and elusive, the glossy leaves burst forth at the start of the season in great verdant patches before disappearing for another 11 months. When they arrive, I tend to do the same things with them, year after year: cheese scones, pesto or chimichurri. This year, I craved a change.

Enter the humble pierogi – one of my favourite comfort-food dishes. If you’ve never had pierogi, think of them as ravioli by way of Poland, filled with (in this case) cheesy mashed potato in lieu of ricotta. They’re stuffed, sealed, boiled, and then fried with onions until their skins are bronzed and crisp and their insides piping hot.

They are basically a perfect food. Making them by hand is certainly a weekend project, but it’s an incredibly satisfying one (and, if you opt to freeze them, you have an emergency hangover cure on hand). I like King Arthur Flour’s classic recipe, though I’ve opted to add wild garlic to my pierogi, which are then served with caramelised onions and dollops of sour cream.

Wild garlic tends to work well alongside pale ales and IPAs – particularly those brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops, which often have a savoury, allium character. This Rye IPA, a collaboration between Left Handed Giant and Whiplash, fits the bill, and offers just enough sweetness to match the caramelised onions.

Together, the two are a perfect choice for that transitional stretch between seasons, when the weather changes moment to moment: still warming and hearty, but bright with new possibility.

Wild Garlic Pierogi with Caramelised Onions
Serves 3-4
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the dough:
240g all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg
115g sour cream
60g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft

For the filling:
225g potatoes
115g sharp white cheddar, grated
Small handful wild garlic, chiffonaded
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

To serve:
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
45g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
1 large onion, finely sliced
Fine sea salt
Small handful wild garlic, finely sliced
Sour cream

1. First, prepare your pierogi dough. Add the flour and sea salt to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and mix roughly, using a fork, until the dough is shaggy. Add the sour cream and butter and mix, using the fork, until the dough just comes together.

2. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface (do not use any flour on the surface or your hands, as it will make the dough tough). Knead and fold gently, using your fingertips, for approximately 5 minutes. The dough will start out very sticky – resist the urge to add more flour – but should become just springy enough to stick together in a ball and pull cleanly off the counter. Wrap in plastic clingfilm and chill for a minimum of 1-2 hours, or until firmer.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes. Add to a pot, cover with cold water, and place over high heat. Bring the water to a boil and salt it well. Cook the potatoes until fork-tender, approximately 10-15 minutes.

4. Once the potatoes are tender, drain. Mash using a potato ricer or a fork. While the potatoes are still hot, add the grated cheddar and stir through until melted and evenly incorporated. Add the wild garlic and stir to combine; season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside until cool.

5. To make the pierogi, remove the firmed-up dough from the fridge. Cut in half; place one half on the counter and cover and chill the other half as you work. Roll out the dough until approximately 1/8-inch (3mm) thick. If it is still sticky, use the merest sprinkle of flour on the rolling pin and counter. Using a 3-inch (7.5cm) cutter, cut the dough into circles. Re-roll any remaining dough scraps.

6. To fill the pierogi, spoon roughly 2 teaspoons of potato mixture on each dough circle, leaving a margin at the edges (be sure not to overfill, or they will burst when cooking). Fold over the other side and pinch the edges closed. Seal the edges by pressing lightly with the tines of a fork. Once the pierogi are made, repeat with the second dough half and the remaining filling.

7. If you wish to cook the pierogi at a later date, line a container with wax paper and sprinkle lightly with flour to prevent them from sticking. Store overnight in the fridge or freeze for up to a month.

8. When ready to serve, begin by caramelising the onions. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of butter and olive oil to a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, and immediately turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions have caramelised. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down to low.

9. Once the onions have caramelised, transfer to a bowl and remove the frying pan from the heat (don’t clean it out). Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a gentle boil. Add roughly 10 pierogi at a time and cook until they float to the surface (cooking time will vary depending on if they are fresh or frozen).

10. Meanwhile, add the remaining butter and olive oil to the frying pan and place over medium high-heat. Once the pierogi have cooked, transfer using a slotted spoon to the frying pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the pierogi are crisp and golden on both sides. Return the caramelised onions to the pan, add the wild garlic, and cook until just wilted. Serve the pierogi alongside dollops of sour cream.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is out now and available in all good book stores (and at HB &B). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Wine & Food Killers: Grilled Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches and Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave 2018

Sometimes one craving begets a fiercer, more trenchant second craving. For instance: earlier this month, I ordered a banh mi from a Vietnamese deli up the road. The sandwich was delicious, but too small, and so for the rest of the week all I could think about was a second banh mi – one filling enough to sate me.

The best banh mi I ever had were in Southern California; there, the sandwiches (which arose out of a fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisines) were made with oven-fresh baguettes at all hours, always light and hot and crisp. It is hard to live up to the ideal I hold in my head, but this interpretation is close enough to do the job. Made with both grilled pork and pâté (head cheese is a common fixture of traditional banh mi), it features quick-pickled carrots and daikons, slices of cucumber and jalapeño, and fresh coriander. Each bite is at once meaty and spicy, crunchy and zesty, chewy and tender.

Founded in Swartland, South Africa in 2008, Testalonga is one of the country’s most ambitious and boundary-pushing wineries. Its Baby Bandito line (whose recognisable labels have become a fixture on natural wine shop shelves) is a good place to start, and Stay Brave – 100% Chenin Blanc, macerated for 11 days and aged in oak foudres – is a pleasing introduction to skin-contact, or orange, wine.

Orange might not quite be the operative word here, however. This wine is closer to a tawny amber, and its zingy flavour profile veers between flowers and peaches and citrus and spice. It punches well above its 10.5% ABV; it’s not merely crushable. I like what the banh mi does to the wine. Because its pickles are so piquant and acidic, and the fish sauce in the marinade and the daikon impart a nose-crinkling pungency, they mollify the wine’s sharper edges. It becomes a little less tongue-prickling, and its own mellow sweetness becomes more pronounced. Chenin Blanc is a grape that is often described as tasting like honey, and the marinade – made with a good drizzle of honey – draws out that winsome side of its personality.

Grilled Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches
Serves 4

For the pork and marinade:
600g pork tenderloin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 spring onions (white and light green parts only), roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass (thick outer layers removed), roughly chopped
Small handful coriander, stems included
Juice and zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (preferably white)

For the pickled vegetables:
1 large carrot, peeled 1 equivalent-sized daikon, peeled
180ml rice vinegar
80ml warm water
¾ tablespoon fine sea salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar

For the sandwiches:
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 mini baguettes
Mayonnaise
Pork pâté (optional, but recommended)
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, thinly sliced (deseeded, if preferred)
Large handful coriander

1. Prep the pork several hours before you plan to eat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the tenderloin into thin (approximately ¼-inch-thick) sheets (if your tenderloin is very long, halve it length-wise first). Place in a large, non-reactive bowl.

2. Add all of the remaining marinade ingredients to a food processor or blender. Blend on high for several minutes, until mostly uniform. Pour the marinade over the pork, and flip the pieces to ensure they are all evenly covered. Cover and chill for 2–4 hours.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the pickled vegetables. Using a box grater (or food processor), grate the carrot and daikon and add to a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, add the remaining pickling ingredients and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour over the grated vegetables and stir to mix. Cover and chill.

4. Once the pork has finished marinating, remove it from the fridge. Place a large, non-stick frying pan over high heat, and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot, add the pork – allowing excess marinade to drip off each piece – in a single layer (you will likely need to cook the pork in 2 or 3 batches). Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, turning frequently, until the pieces are golden-brown and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork.

5. Shortly before serving, halve the baguettes with a bread knife and place cut side up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under the grill and toast on high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until just turning golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a minute or two.

6. To construct the sandwiches, divide the halved baguettes between four plates. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over the top half of each baguette, and a layer of pâté (if using) on the bottom half. Cover the pâté with a single layer of cucumber slices and a few jalapeño pieces. Divide the pork between all four sandwiches and place the slices on top of the cucumbers.

7. Remove the pickled vegetables from the fridge. Top the pork with a thin layer of the vegetables (drain extra liquid before using) and finish with the coriander. Put the baguette halves together and eat the sandwiches while still warm

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of Testalonga Baby Bandito Stay Brave here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Oven-Cooked Chicken & Orzo and Saison Dupont

Like the rest of the internet, I lost my damn mind when Nigella Lawson posted a photo of perfectly golden roast chicken nestled in soupy, carrot-flecked orzo on Instagram at the end of February.

To be clear, there is nothing radical about chicken cooked with orzo – the Greeks have been doing it for aeons. While the image was initially ended as a casual, off-the-cuff home-cooking shot, Lawson received so many requests for the recipe that she posted it just a few days later (combined, the two posts have netted upwards of 72,000 likes).

Viral recipes are a curious phenomenon (and one that Alison Roman appears to have mastered, between those cookies and that chickpea stew) - particularly, particularly because the dishes that capture popular attention are often paradoxically simple and nostalgia-infused. I can’t quite explain why, amongst the hundreds of food images I scroll past each day, Nigella’s chicken lodged in my brain, but lodge it did. There is something to its buoyantly bronzed breast, and the two-in-one ur-comfort of oven-baked pasta and roast chicken.

I have made several tweaks to Nigella’s recipe (swapping leeks for onion, adding feta and pine nuts, and using stock in place of water), but it’s not an exaggeration to say that hers is the best chicken dish I’ve had all year. It is genius, the way that the pasta soaks up the bird’s broth and oils, its very essence. Make it for dinner parties. Make it for special occasions. Make it when you feel sad. Make it when you’re happy. Just make it.

In the way that this dish is an instant soul- and crowd-pleasing classic, so is Saison Dupont. This is an unimpeachable beer: it is so perfectly poised, with its light sweetness, finishing bitterness, fluffy head and restrained esters. Saisons are a classically food- friendly style, but I find they do particularly well with chicken dishes. Here, the two are seamless, and both ludicrously joyful.

“This is a simple recipe that brings profound pleasure,” Lawson says. Right she is, and that’s even truer with this beer alongside.

Oven-Cooked Chicken and Orzo
Serves 6
Adapted from
Nigella Lawson

1 small chicken (approximately 1.4kg/3lbs)
2-3 tablespoons fine sea salt, divided, plus additional
2 large carrots
1 large onion
1 head garlic
4 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon crushed chillis
2 lemons
600ml (2 ½ cups) chicken stock (plus additional, if needed)
250g (9oz) orzo
100g (3 ½oz) toasted pine nuts
200g (7oz) feta
Small handful parsley, torn

1. Roughly 1 hour before you plan to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge. Season inside and out with 1.5-2 tablespoons of sea salt (depending on your salt tolerance). Set aside and leave on the counter to warm slightly. (Note: you can also season the chicken several hours in advance, or even the night before, for additional flavour and tenderness. The further in advance you season it, the less salt you should use.)

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F) – you’ll need a large Dutch oven for this dish, preferably cast-iron or enamel. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Roughly chop the carrots and onion. Separate the garlic cloves and peel, but leave whole. Roughly chop the oregano.

3. Place the Dutch oven on the hob (stove) over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot but not smoking, add the carrots, onion, and garlic, and season with the additional tablespoon of salt (you can halve this if you’re watching your salt intake or prefer less salted food), plus lots of freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3–5 minutes, or until slightly softened and the onions and garlic have lost their raw aroma. Add the oregano and crushed chillis, and cook for an additional minute, or until fragrant. Remove from the heat and transfer the vegetables to a plate.

4. Using a microplane, grate the two lemons, setting the zest aside. Halve and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl. Then, tuck the squeezed lemon halves into the chicken’s cavity, which will further perfume it as it cooks.

4. Return the pot to the hob and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Turn the heat to high; once very hot, add the chicken, breast-side down. Sear for 2–3 minutes, or until its breast skin turns crisp and golden-brown. Then, flip the chicken so it’s breast-side up.

5. Return the vegetables to the pot, being careful to place them around the chicken rather than on top of it. Pour in the chicken stock; it should come most of the way up the bird, but should not cover its breast (you may need additional broth, depending on the size and shape of your pot). Add the reserved lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover with the lid and transfer to your preheated oven.

6. Cook the chicken for approximately 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Pour the orzo around the chicken, using a spoon to ensure the pasta is fully submerged; add a bit of additional broth if needed. Taste the broth and add a pinch of additional salt, if needed. Cover the pot and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

7. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and take off the lid: the orzo should be fully cooked, and most of the broth absorbed. Using a spoon, gently stir the orzo without dislodging the chicken. Add the pine nuts to the orzo and stir through before topping with crumbled feta. Return the pot, this time without a lid, to the oven for 5 additional minutes, until the feta has softened and begun to melt. Remove from the oven.

8. Bring the chicken to the table in the pot, so everyone can see how beautiful it is, before heading back to the kitchen. To serve, gently transfer the chicken to a cutting board with a large spatula (its meat will be falling off the bone). Using two forks (or your hands, if immune to heat), roughly shred the chicken and return to the pot; discard the skin, bones and any gristle, as well as the lemon halves inside the chicken. Mix through, and garnish with the parsley before serving.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now, available through our online shop or through good booksellers and online retailers. Saison Dupont is a year-round staple at Hop Burns & Black - you definitely want to stock up on this regularly,

Wine & Food Killers: Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon 2017 and Salmon Crudo

If you ever need a wine to suit all manner of tastes and predilections, this amiable bottle is a born crowd-pleaser. Hailing from the Touraine appellation in the Loire Valley, Pierre-Olivier Bonhomme’s Sauvignon Blanc is farmed organically, fermented with indigenous yeasts, unfined and unfiltered.

That natty-wine cred is all well and good, but purity tests aside, this bottle is simply, lip-smackingly good.

It pours a flaxen gold, brilliant and electric. On the nose, it’s opulent with honey, lushly floral, with a touch of piquant lemon zest and something deeper and more animal: the faintest scent of wool and lanolin, perhaps. On the palate, it tastes sweetly of elderflower and apple, though there’s enough acidity to prevent it from becoming cloying. Here is a wine that feels like languid spring afternoons on the grass, like sunny kisses, like endless Sundays…

It’s best not to over-complicate a wine like this; if you’re eating alongside, go for something simple and quick and made with the best-quality ingredients you can find. I like this salmon crudo as a pairing: the wine has no trouble with the fish’s oiliness, while the dish’s lightly honeyed and citric dressing emphasises the Sauvignon Blanc’s best attributes. Add oregano for herbaceousness, shallots for sharpness, and pine nuts for crunch.

Feel free to riff, too, if you’re feeling creative – swap the salmon for trout or mackerel, use lime juice instead, try mint or tarragon. Crudo is a flexible format, and one that rewards experimentation.

Salmon Crudo
Serves 2

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (as high-quality as you can afford)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice
1 ½ teaspoons runny honey
Pinch fine sea salt

For the crudo:
1 medium-sized shallot
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 fillet skinless, sushi-grade salmon or trout
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Fresh oregano leaves, to garnish
Grapefruit zest, to garnish

1. First, prepare the dressing. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until uniform. Set aside.

2. Peel the shallot and slice into very thin rounds. Separate the layers and add to a small bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice and leave the shallots to lightly pickle for 15–20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish.

3. Add the pine nuts to a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat. Toast, tossing frequently, for approximately 5 minutes, or until the pine nuts are golden-brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Using your sharpest knife, cut the salmon into very thin slices (be sure to slice against the grain, on a bias). Arrange between two plates, and top each with a light sprinkle of sea salt.

5. Top each slice of salmon with a shallot ring and an oregano leaf. Sprinkle over the pine nuts. Pour the dressing around the fish slices until it forms a very shallow layer on the plate. Grate over the grapefruit zest and serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table, is out now and available via our online shop and hopefully at your favourite booksellers. Pick up a bottle of the glorious Bonhomme Touraine Sauvignon here, and to sign up for our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box, head here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Aperitivo Snacks and Cloudwater x Evil Twin Pet Nat Slushie

More and more, the idea that beer and wine are two distinct categories of beverage is being challenged. If the growing number of vinous beers – like Cloudwater x Evil Twin’s Pet Nat Slushie – is any indication, we’ll soon be awash in wine-inspired beers, hopped wines, and other experimental hybrids.

A quick primer: Pet Nat – an abbreviation for pétillant naturel, or ‘naturally sparkling’ – is bubbly wine, humbly made. Unlike Champagne or Cava, it only undergoes a single fermentation, and it’s bottled while that fermentation is still underway (a process known as the méthode ancestrale, if you want to get fancy). It can be risky; worst case, if things don’t go according to plan, you might end up with a flat bottle.

But when all goes well, Pet Nat emerges delicately carbonated, relatively low in alcohol, lightly hazy, and – depending on the grapes you use – typically tastes young and bright and fruit-forward and fun.

All that said: this is a beer, not a Pet Nat, though it calls itself a Pet Nat Slushie. A collaboration between Cloudwater and Evil Twin made for the former’s forthcoming Friends & Family & Beer Festival, the beer is a tart and fruity kettle sour (with luscious passion fruit notes), married with a dry brut IPA fermented with Champagne yeast. It may share little in terms of ingredients or process with true Pét Nat, but what it does share is the same spirit of playfulness and gluggability (or glou-glou, as the French might say).

I recently visited Venice for the first time, and left enamoured with the city’s cicchetti culture: there are few greater pleasures than wandering from bar to bàcaro, nibbling on crostini as you go, always with a glass in hand. With that inspiration in mind, I’ve pulled together recipes for three quick aperitivo snacks you could pair with this Pet Nat Slushie (or any Pet Nat, really). You can make any or all of them, depending on the occasion, with bowls of spiced almonds or olives to go alongside. It’s snack hour, baby – and these simple, fresh, and riffable recipes are perfect with a side of bubbles.

Chickpea and Tomato Salad
200g (7oz) cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
½ tablespoon balsamic glaze
Fine sea salt
1 small red onion
1 400g (14oz) can chickpeas
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley
1 large handful mint
4 tablespoons (1/4 US cup) capers
235ml (1 US cup) vegetable oil (optional; see step 4)
Juice of 1 lime 100g (3.5 oz) soft goat cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 160° Celsius (320° Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, halve the cherry tomatoes and arrange on a foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the balsamic glaze, and season with a pinch of sea salt. Roast for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and jammy. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2. Finely dice the onion and transfer to a small bowl. Top up with cold water and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes; this helps remove the onion’s bite.

3. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the chickpeas and pat to dry. Transfer to a large bowl, alongside the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle over the caraway seeds and a large pinch of salt, plus a good grind of black pepper. Roughly chop the parsley and mint and add to the bowl. Toss to evenly mix.

4. Drain the capers and pat to dry. You can either add them to the salad as is, or fry them for some added crunch. If you plan to fry them, add the vegetable oil to a medium frying pan and place over high heat. Leave for several minutes until the oil is very hot, and a test caper starts sizzling rapidly as soon as it hits the oil. Add the remaining capers and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they’re darkened and crispy; some may ‘blossom’. Using a slotted spoon or spider strainer, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and leave to cool.

5. Just before serving, drain the onion pieces and transfer to the salad. Squeeze over the lime juice and toss to coat. Crumble over the goat cheese. Garnish with the capers.

Artichoke Crostini
1 small (half-sized) baguette
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove
Approximately 8 tablespoons (1/2 US cup) ricotta
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts
Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Small handful mint leaves
Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved

1. Turn the grill section of your oven to high. Using a serrated knife, slice the baguette into 1-inch pieces (save the end pieces for a snack); you want to end up with roughly 8 pieces. Arrange on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil. Place under the grill for 3-6 minutes, or until golden-brown but not burned.

2. Remove from the grill. While the bread is still hot, grate a garlic clove lightly on each piece.

3. Once the bread has cooled, dollop roughly 1 tablespoon of ricotta on each slice and spread to the edges. Top each piece with a marinated artichoke heart, and season with the red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper), salt, and pepper to taste.

4. Finely chop the mint leaves and sprinkle on top of the crostini. Top with the shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Figs with Gorgonzola
8 large figs
100g (3.5oz) mild, soft blue cheese (preferably Gorgonzola Dolce)
8 slices prosciutto or Parma ham
Olive oil

1. Rinse and dry the figs. Using a serrated knife, slice upwards from the base of each fig so each has a deep cut but is still attached at the stem.

2. Spoon a small amount of Gorgonzola into each fig. Wrap with a single piece of prosciutto or Parma ham, and secure with a toothpick.

3. Turn your oven’s grill to its highest setting. Transfer the figs to a foil-lined baking sheet and place under the grill. Cook for 2-4 minutes, turning halfway, or until the ham is darkened and the cheese is starting to melt.

4. Remove from the oven and drizzle over a scant amount of olive oil. Serve while still warm.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books this month (March 2019). Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

Wine & Food Killers: Linguine Bolognese and I Vini di Giovanni Rozzo 2017

There’s nothing like grim weather and Seasonal Affective Disorder to strip you of your tolerance for ostentation. February is the time of year when the rustic prevails, when warm and honest food, like this recipe, really comes into its own.

One caveat: this isn’t your typical Bolognese, though it might be the most classical one you’ve ever made. (Caveat #2: spaghetti may be traditional, but I prefer slightly thicker linguine, which stands up better to hearty sauces.)

The woman behind this timeless recipe is the late grande dame of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, who had very strong feelings about how to make Bolognese properly. For instance: do not even think about putting garlic in this Bolognese. Bacon is not needed, rosemary is not invited. And though you might assume red wine would be best in the sauce (it’s best alongside – more on that in a bit), if Marcella says white, you use white.

This Bolognese has no shortcuts: if you want yours to taste like it was made by an Italian nonna, you need to cook like one. This is simmer-all-day sauce, the perfect Sunday project, a study in the art of patience, a fragrant rebuttal to instant-gratification. You’ll need a solid seven hours to make it; in an ideal world, you might even refrigerate it overnight and eat it the next day to allow its flavours to deepen further (this is recommended, though not required).

When it finally comes time to eat, it’s wise to go with a wine that’s similarly humble and enriching. I Vini di Giovanni’s Rozzo – made by an actual Umbrian shepherd named Giovanni Mesina – certainly qualifies. Made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, absent any added sulphur, it is pungently barnyardy when first poured, but after decanting and swirling, notes of cherry and a mellow fruitfulness come to the fore. Its tannins are serious and grippy, which makes it a wine that especially benefits from the companionship of some pasta.

Together, they won’t banish your SAD, but the act of stirring sauce for the better part of the day still has a way of making the world feel less dire.

Linguine Bolognese
Very slightly adapted from Marcella Hazan
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
45g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
350g (¾ lb) beef mince (ground beef), preferably 15-20% fat
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
235ml (1 US cup) whole milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
235ml (1 US cup) dry white wine
1 400g (14oz) can whole Italian plum tomatoes in juice
500g (1.1 lbs) linguine, spaghetti, or similar pasta
Parmigiano Reggiano

1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, add the vegetable oil, butter and onion, and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook the onion gently for roughly 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it is softened and translucent.

2. Add the carrot and celery, and stir to coat. Cook for roughly 3-4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the beef mince and sprinkle over a large pinch of sea salt and several good grinds of black pepper. Using a fork, delicately break up the meat and toss until it is finely crumbled. Cook until it has just lost its raw colour, but not until it is darkened and dried out.

3. Pour in the milk and grate in the nutmeg. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk is fully evaporated – this process can take up to an hour. (Don’t be tempted to raise the heat and boil it off faster; slow cooking makes the meat incredibly tender.)

4. Next, add in the white wine and repeat the same process, slow cooking over medium- low heat until completely evaporated.

5. While the beef mixture is simmering, prep the tomatoes: remove the whole plum tomatoes from the can, reserving the juice, and roughly chop. When the wine is fully evaporated, add both the chopped tomatoes and their juice, and stir to combine.

6. Turn the heat to low. Cook for a minimum of 3 and up to 5 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and rich. To prevent it from drying out or burning during the cooking process, add water at 125ml (1/2-cup) intervals, if needed. Season to taste, generously, with salt and pepper.

7. When you’re nearly ready to serve, bring a large pot of water to the boil and salt generously. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Drain, and return to the pot. Add the Bolognese sauce and toss lightly to combine.

8. Divide the linguine Bolognese between plates or bowls, and top generously with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen and look out for our book together, The Beer Lover’s Table, launching in March 2019. These recipes accompany our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box - sign up to get yours here.

Wine & Food Killers: Indian-Spiced Roasted Lamb Leg and Domaine du Pech Le Pech Abusé

With wintry weather set to stick around for a while, it’s time to hunker down and seek solace in rich wine and food. I originally made this at Christmas time, but it’s just as good for the dark midwinter when we’re all in need of celebrating something…. anything.

This lamb, specifically, which originates - minus a few riffs and adaptations - from Asma’s Indian Kitchen, the exceptional new cookbook written by Darjeeling Express’ Asma Khan. As Khan notes, this leg of lamb, which marinates overnight in a yoghurt mixture before roasting, is a showstopper dish that is traditionally served at weddings or other celebratory occasions. Made with yoghurt and grated green papaya, the marinade tenderises the lamb as it perfumes it.

A dish as rich and intensely flavoured as this lamb deserves a wine of similar boldness, and the exemplary Le Pech Abusé is just the bottle to seek out. Made by Domaine du Pech (located in southwestern France’s Buzet region), it is exactly the kind of wine I like in the winter, which is to say abundant in dark fruit flavours, full-bodied, but edged by a balancing undercurrent of leather and wood and smoke (prior to bottling, it’s aged for 30 months in 200-year-old oak foudres).

A blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc, Le Pech Abusé pours an opaque, inky black. It is a wine for celebrations, for fireplaces and cold nights - and for lamb.

Indian-Spiced Roasted Lamb Leg
Adapted from Asma’s Indian Kitchen
Serves 6

150ml vegetable oil or ghee
1 large onion, thinly sliced
10 threads saffron
1 tablespoon milk
100g Greek yoghurt
6 tablespoons clotted cream
4 tablespoons grated green papaya
3 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1.5-kilo (3.3-pound) bone-in lamb leg

1. Prepare your lamb the night before you plan to serve it. First, prep ingredients for the marinade. Add the vegetable oil or ghee to a large frying pan and place over medium- high heat. Once hot, add the onion and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for approximately 35 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is caramelised and softened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a ramekin or small bowl, lightly crumble the saffron threads. Pour over the milk and leave to infuse. 3. In a large bowl - large enough to fit your entire lamb leg - add the Greek yoghurt, clotted cream, grated papaya, salt and spices. Mix to combine.

4. Once the onions have cooled, strain and discard the oil and transfer the onions to a food processor. Blend on high until the mixture is a rough paste. Transfer to the yogurt mixture and stir through. Add the milk and saffron and stir to combine.

5. Using a sharp knife, make small slits over the surface of the lamb. Rub the lamb in the marinade, and work the mixture into the slits. Cover and chill overnight.

6. Remove the lamb from the fridge roughly one hour before you plan to cook, and leave to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Place a wire rack over a foil-lined baking tray, and transfer the lamb to the rack.

7. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 180°C (350°F). Continue to roast for roughly one hour more, or until the lamb is cooked to your ideal degree of doneness. Insert a thermometer in the thickest part of the lamb; it should be 49°C (120°F) for rare, 52°C (125°F) for medium-rare, 57°C (135°F) for medium, 63°C (145°F) for medium- well, and 66°C (150°F) for well-done. If you prefer your lamb rarer, begin to check its temperature earlier in the cooking process. 8. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen and look out for our book together, The Beer Lover’s Table, launching in March 2019. These recipes accompany our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box - sign up to get yours here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: A Mixed Cheese Plate and The Kernel India Brown Ale

January is a remarkably bad time for self-punishment, though we always convince ourselves that this darkest and dreariest of months is when we’ll finally get leaner, stronger, better. Spoiler: we won’t. We’re weary. We’re half-hibernating on the sofa, aware of the void in our wallets where money should be. The last thing we need, at this point, is to cut out carbs. Or cheese.

A cheese plate is, in fact, an extremely good January meal, because it requires little-to-no effort (beyond vague curatorial sensibilities), and is also absolutely comforting - perhaps best enjoyed while wrapped in a fleece blanket.

The idea that beer is a natural pairing partner for cheese - better, even, than wine - is by now well-established; given that beer lacks, in most cases, harsh tannins and over-the-top acidity, it shows a particular kinship for curds. There are numerous beer styles that could be classed as broadly “cheese-friendly”, from stouts and saisons to pale ales and bitters. If you’re looking to save money, though, or want to limit your drinking to a single beer, a hoppy brown ale may be the best all-rounder for everything on your cheese plate.

The Kernel’s India Brown Ale is a particularly worthy candidate. This beer isn’t a one-note malt bomb: its first impression, in fact, is its vibrant aroma, fruitful with hops. This most recent iteration of the beer was brewed with Simcoe, Citra, and Mosaic hops, meaning you might detect pineapple on the nose, or perhaps mango. It pours with a generous, aerated head that takes long minutes to diminish, and which resembles proving bread dough. On the palate it has some malty profundity, and tastes even a little bit like Scandinavian rye bread, but closes out with a rumbling bitterness.

It’s a multi-faceted creature, this beer: at once roasty, subtly sweet, brightly aromatic, and resoundingly bitter. It transforms a little bit with every mouthful of cheese, its various attributes at turns receding or coming to the fore.

Alongside aged Gouda, for instance - pocked with crunchy tyrosine crystals, rich like butterscotch - it harmonises sweetly. When paired with earthy, sharp Isle of Mull Cheddar, or nutty Mimolette, it offers rusticity, a bit of bite. Blue cheese and stout are famously well-matched, and while this brown ale doesn’t quite share the richness or body of a stout, it’s still dark enough to pair affably with my wedge of Roquefort. You could also do well serving it with Alpine-style cheeses like Gruyere or Comté, or employing it like a saber to cut through the sticky pungency of a washed-rind cheese à la Stinking Bishop or Époisses.

The point is: this beer is so agreeable that it hardly matters which cheeses you pick to go with it. Find whatever catches your eye. Get some crackers, maybe, or some jam or honey, but there is no loss of dignity in eating cheese without a vehicle or accoutrements. Hunker down until all of this (gestures vaguely at the outside world) passes by.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Shredded Cuban-Style Pork Shoulder And Brick Brewery X 1251 Jerk Stout

Most beers aren’t explicitly created with food in mind, but this Jerk Stout — a collaboration between Brick Brewery and Chef James Cochran’s new restaurant, 1251 — is an exception.

Designed to pair with 1251’s famed jerk-spiced fried chicken, the beer was brewed with Cochran’s secret spice mix (plus malt that Cochran hand-smoked himself over applewood chips). The result is richly sweet, dark as engine oil, whiffy with smoke, and laced with a chilli heat that accumulates at the back of the throat.

While it was indeed excellent alongside the fried chicken, I wanted to explore further pairing possibilities. Serendipitously, I recently found myself flipping through Melissa Clark’s 2017 cookbook, Dinner in an Instant, and spotted a recipe for Cuban-style pork that looked like an ideal candidate. Clark’s recipe was designed for an electric pressure cooker — I’ve recently joined the legions of Instant Pot evangelicals; seriously, it’s a life-changing piece of gadgetry — but you could just as easily leave the pork simmering in a slow cooker during the day.

Marinated in grapefruit and lime juice, seasoned with fresh oregano and copious amounts of garlic, the pork stews until it falls to pieces. Once shredded, it cooks down further in its juices. The result is pork at its most decadent, ideal scooped into tortillas or served atop rice.

As I hoped, it’s also exceptional alongside the Jerk Stout, and manages to draw out the beer’s roasty character, sweetness, and smokiness. When the weather is frightful, when you only want to hunker down and hide away, this is the kind of meal you could happily hibernate with.

Shredded Cuban-Style Pork Shoulder
Adapted from Melissa Clark
Serves 6

For the pork shoulder:
8 garlic cloves, peeled
Juice of 1 ruby grapefruit
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons kosher or fine sea salt
1 2-kilo (4.4-pound) boneless pork shoulder
2 fresh bay leaves
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

To serve
Large handful coriander
2-3 limes
Rice or tortillas

1. Roughly one hour before you plan to cook the pork shoulder, make the marinade. Add the garlic, grapefruit juice, lime zest and juice, olive oil, brown sugar, oregano, cumin and salt to a food processor, and blend on high until uniform.

2. Using a very sharp knife, remove the rind from the pork, if attached, and save to make chicharrones (or discard). Cut the pork shoulder into four pieces. Add to a large bowl and top with the marinade. Cover and chill for one hour.

3. After one hour, remove the pork from the fridge. Add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, and place over high heat. Once hot, remove two pork pieces from the marinade, and allow any excess to drip off. Add to the frying pan and brown on all sides before transferring to your pressure cooker or slow cooker. Repeat with the remaining two pork pieces; do not discard the marinade. (Note that, if you are using an Instant Pot, you can also brown your pork in the pressure cooker on Sauté mode.)

4. Add the reserved marinade to your pork pieces, as well as the two bay leaves. If using a pressure cooker, seal and cook on high pressure for 80 minutes; afterwards, allow the cooker to depressurise naturally. If using a slow cooker, cook on low heat for roughly 7 hours, stopping to flip the pork pieces halfway through, or until the pork can be easily shredded.

5. When cooking is done, transfer the pork pieces to a cutting board. Using two forks, shred the meat, and discard any gristly or fatty bits, as well as the bay leaves. If using a pressure cooker, return the shredded pork to the cooking liquid. Cook on Sauté mode for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the excess liquid has mostly evaporated. If using a slow cooker, return the shredded pork to the cooking liquid and cook on low for 1 hour more. If there is still excess liquid after cooking, strain off and discard.

6. Season the shredded pork to taste. Serve alongside rice or tortillas, plus coriander and lime wedges.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Venison Steaks with Sweet Potato Puree and Gipsy Hill x People Like Us Bramble Sour

Venison is deep and rich and dark, more animal tasting than beef, ferric as blood. It is a lean meat and is thus best cooked quickly, just long enough to brown its outside while leaving its interior rare and tender. Little wonder it’s often matched with barrel-aged chocolate stouts or Belgian quadrupels; its uncommon intensity helps it stand up to the heavyweights.

This time, though - rather than pairing two powerhouses - I wanted to find a beer that could help temper some of venison’s richness. Enter People Like Us, a collaboration between Gipsy Hill and the eponymous People Like Us, a Danish brewery run by people from marginalised groups. This bramble sour was brewed with raspberry, blackberry, and lingonberry purees, and pours a beguiling shade of magenta.

It’s no accident that venison is commonly served with blackberries, drizzled in a redcurrant sauce or otherwise paired with berries; this is a meat that benefits from contrasting brightness and an added spark of acidity. Here, this beer isn’t just a pairing: it serves as an element of the dish that’s been outsourced to the glass, a stand-in for a reduction or glaze. The addition of fried sage leaves and vibrant sweet potato puree (infused with sage-scented brown butter) makes this a simple, wintry showstopper.

Venison Steaks with Sweet Potato Puree and Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 2

For the venison steaks
2 venison steaks, approximately 225g (1/2 pound) each
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sweet potato puree
1 small sweet potato, approximately 300g (2/3 pound)
2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Brown butter from sage leaves (see below)

For the fried sage leaves
20 sage leaves
125g (1 stick) unsalted butter

1. Roughly 45 minutes before you plan to cook, remove the venison steaks from the fridge and pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Leave at room temperature so they won’t be fridge-cold when it comes time to cook them.

2. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to the boil. Peel the sweet potato and finely dice. Add to the boiling water, along with the garlic cloves, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for roughly 12 minutes, or until the sweet potato is very soft but not yet falling apart. Drain and transfer the sweet potato and garlic to a food processor.

3. While the sweet potato is cooking, make the brown butter-fried sage leaves. Melt the butter in a medium frying pan, and add the sage leaves in a single layer. Cook for 4-5 minutes, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter has turned a deep brown, smells nutty, and the sage leaves are fried. Remove from the heat immediately, and leave to cool for a few minutes.

4. Transfer the sage leaves to a plate, and pour the sage-infused butter into a liquid cup measure (or other vessel with a pouring spout).

5. Season the sweet potato mixture with pepper and nutmeg before blending on high. As the food processor’s motor runs, pour in the brown butter in a steady stream. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

6. Place a large frying pan over high heat. Once very hot, add the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the venison steaks and cook on the first side for approximately 1 ½ minutes, or until well browned. Flip and cook on the reverse for approximately 1 minute more (you can cook for slightly longer if you like, but venison is best served rare). Using tongs, sear off the sides of the steaks. Transfer to a cutting board and leave to rest for approximately 5 minutes.

7. Divide the sweet potato puree between two plates. Slice the venison steaks and place on top of the puree. Garnish with the fried sage leaves, and serve.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Our first book with Claire, The Beer Lover’s Table: Seasonal Recipes and Modern Beer Pairings, is published by Dog’n’Bone Books in March 2019. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

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Wine & Food Killers: Lemongrass Chicken with Sam Vinciullo Warner Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2017

If you’ve got Sauvignon Blanc fatigue, you’re not alone (blame the boatloads of Oyster Bay for making the grape feel cheap and lustreless). But don’t let that dissuade you from this particular bottle. Sam Vinciullo’s skin-contact Warner Glen Sauvignon Blanc is an electrifying reminder of just how good ol’ Sauvy B can be.

Made using organic, hand-harvested grapes in the Margaret River region – located in Western Australia, and one of the most geographically isolated wine regions in the world – it ticks most of the low-intervention boxes. It’s unfined and unfiltered (which gives it a hazy appearance), has no added sulphites and is fermented using wild yeast. That make it about as pure a distillation of the grape, and of Margaret River’s terroir, as is possible to find.

Even with the glass inches away from my nose, the wine’s complex and enticing aroma is apparent: you could almost dab it on your pulse points and call it a perfume. It offers pungent aromas, ripe and juicy gooseberry and passion fruit, plus a subtle herbaceousness (no wonder some describe Sauvignon Blanc as the IPA of wines). On the palate, it’s buoyant, with the slightest prickle of CO2, and brightly acidic.

When thinking up a pairing to go with this peach of a wine, I sought a complementary dish – something that could supply its own fruitiness and subtle funk. I opted for Vietnamese-inspired lemongrass chicken, which, like the wine, is boldly flavourful but still fresh. Additions of lemongrass, fresh herbs and lime juice mimic the wine’s brightness, while a pinch of earthy turmeric and glug of fish sauce match its pungency.

This is a great pairing both for sunnier days and when you can’t quite bear to let the memories of summer go just yet.

Lemongrass Chicken
Loosely adapted from Asian at Home
Serves 4

For the lemongrass chicken:
800g (1 ¾ lbs) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (approximately 8 thigh fillets)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 long stalks lemongrass
4 cloves garlic
1 bird’s-eye chilli
1 echalion (banana) shallot
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

To serve:
Steamed jasmine or basmati rice
Coriander leaves
Mint leaves
Lime wedges

1. First, prep the chicken. Chop into roughly 1-inch pieces. Season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prep the aromatics. Remove and discard the hard bulb at the end of each lemongrass stalk. Remove and discard the tough outer layers until you get to the tender core. Mince finely, and transfer to a bowl.

3. Finely mince the garlic and chilli, and add to the lemongrass. Finely dice the shallot, and add to the same bowl.

4. Make the sauce. In a ramekin, add the fish sauce and brown sugar, and stir until uniform. Set aside.

5. Place a large frying pan or wok over high heat, and add the vegetable oil. Once very hot but not smoking, add the chicken pieces. Spread in a uniform layer and cook for approximately 2 minutes, or until starting to brown. Flip and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes on the reverse. Sprinkle over the turmeric, and toss to combine.

6. Once the chicken is just cooked through, add all the aromatics and cook, tossing frequently, for 3-4 minutes, or until they have lost their raw aroma.

7. Pour over the sauce and toss to combine. Turn heat to medium-high, and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring or tossing frequently, until the sauce has thickened into a glaze. Remove from the heat.

8. Divide steamed rice between bowls and top with the lemongrass chicken. Garnish with coriander and mint, as preferred, and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen and look out for our book together, The Beer Lover’s Table, launching in March 2019. These recipes accompany our Natural Wine Killers natural wine subscription box - sign up to get yours here.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chickpea & Sweet Potato Curry and Wiper & True Amber Citra & Rye

I clearly remember the first time I tried Wiper and True’s Amber Ale. It was at Darjeeling Express in Soho – then a newly opened restaurant getting good buzz, now an upcoming star of Netflix’s Chef Table series – and it was served alongside a selection of some of the best curries I’ve ever eaten.

To give credit where it’s due, fellow HB&B columnist Matt Curtis was the one who ordered the beer. At the time, I didn’t particularly gravitate towards amber ales. But after having a sip, I was struck by how adeptly this one worked with the heavily spiced, boldly flavoured dishes that we ate that afternoon.

The notion that IPAs and other hop-centric beers should be served with spicy dishes is a strangely enduring piece of pairing advice. Unless you want a mouth full of flames, you’re actually much better off going with something cooling and malt-driven, something with enough sweetness to counteract the heat. This beer, for instance, which the brewery describes as “a full-bodied and sweet amber ale finished off with spicy, peppery rye malts”. It tastes irresistibly like caramel and is rich in the mouth, almost tongue-coating. This iteration is also hopped exclusively with Citra, which adds the subtlest, anchoring bitterness, as well as a light fruitiness.

With that Darjeeling Express meal in mind, I decided to pair Wiper and True’s Amber with a chickpea and sweet potato curry. Hearty, complex and perfumed with autumnal spices like cardamom and cinnamon, this dish is made for crisp nights. Serve it alongside rice or a flatbread of your choosing (I went with flaky parathas) and top with a few verdant sprigs of coriander.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry
Inspired by Serious Eats
Serves 4

For the spice mix
½ tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the curry
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bird’s-eye chilli, roughly chopped
1 lemon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 small sweet potatoes (approximately 370g)
1 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
Fine sea salt

To serve
Basmati rice or flatbread
Fresh coriander

1. First, make the spice mix. Add all the ingredients to a ramekin or small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.

2. To a food processor, add the ginger, garlic, chilli, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Process until finely minced, or the mixture begins to form a paste. You can also do this using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.

3. To a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan, add the vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mustard and cumin seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the onions and stir to coat. Add a generous pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to medium-low – you don’t want the onions to scorch – and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the onions are very soft and beginning to caramelise.

4. While the onions are cooking, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into roughly ½-inch cubes. Set aside.

5. When the onions are soft and beginning to turn golden, turn the heat to high and add the ginger and garlic mixture. Cook for approximately 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the spice mix and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly. Then, add the tinned tomatoes, chickpeas, the sweet potatoes, and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring to evenly combine. Top with the water and stir to mix.

6. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are just fork-tender. Remove the lid and turn the heat to high. Cook for roughly five more minutes, stirring frequently, until any excess liquid has evaporated and the curry has thickened. Season to taste and squeeze over the remaining lemon half.

7. To serve, divide between plates and garnish with coriander. Serve alongside rice or flatbread.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Pumpkin & Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels and Crooked Stave Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison

There is no shame in frozen puff pastry. Like croissants (like many baked goods, in fact), the store-bought stuff is so reliable, of such high quality, that attempting to make it from scratch has almost zero comparative advantages.

I came to puff pastry late, which is ludicrous because there are few simpler ways to make sweet or savoury pastries that look (and taste) professional. Seriously: serve a tray of fruit tarts or I-just-whipped-up-these- perfectly-flaky-palmiers and your friends will be in awe of your culinary skills.

Because we’re on the cusp of autumn, I opted to make simple, puff pastry pinwheels filled with pumpkin. For those who are wary of all things pumpkin spice, don’t fear: here, pureed pumpkin is cooked down with garlic and paprika and coriander, and topped with crumbled feta and mint before being rolled into the pastry. The result – decidedly savoury, and extremely moreish – should appease even the most hardened pumpkin skeptics.

Pumpkin and sage is a classic autumnal pairing, and I decided to evoke it here by serving these puff pastry pinwheels with Crooked Stave’s Colorado Wild Sage Brett Saison. Brewed with lemongrass and white sage, this lightly tart, piquant beer is refreshing enough for end-of-summer drinking, though the sage – a classic cold-weather herb – evokes a pleasing seasonal shift.

Together, this pairing couldn’t be more simpatico, whether you serve it as a boozy weekend brunch, as an appetiser, or simply as an anytime snack.

Pumpkin and Feta Puff Pastry Pinwheels
Makes approximately 14-16 pastries

For the puff pastry pinwheels:
1 sheet (375g/13oz) frozen puff pastry
200g (7oz) feta
2 tablespoons dried mint
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

For the spiced pumpkin filling:
1 425g (15oz) can pureed pumpkin (substitute pureed sweet potato)
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Several hours before you plan to bake, remove the puff pastry from the freezer and leave out at room temperature until completely thawed, approximately 3-4 hours.

2. Meanwhile, while the puff pastry is thawing, prepare the spiced pumpkin filling. Add all ingredients to a saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently so it does not stick and burn, for approximately 20 minutes, or until the mixture is significantly reduced, thickened, and slightly darkened in colour. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; cover and chill for approximately 45 minutes, or until cool.

3. Finely crumble the feta into a small bowl. Add the dried mint and mix through. Set aside.

4. Once the pastry is completely thawed, place on a sheet of parchment paper. Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry out gently until it measures approximately 9” x 15”. Using a spatula, spread the pumpkin filling in an even layer across the pastry, leaving a small margin at the edges. Sprinkle the feta and mint mixture evenly on top.

5. With the pastry still on the parchment paper, and beginning from one of the long sides, roll tightly into a log. Wrap the log tightly in the parchment paper and transfer to the fridge. Chill for 30-45 minutes, or until firm. While the pastry is chilling, preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).

6. Line a large baking sheet with another sheet of parchment paper. Remove the chilled pastry from the fridge and unwrap. In a small bowl, crack an egg and whisk until uniform. Brush the top of the puff pastry log with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the cumin seeds evenly.

7. Using a sharp, serrated knife, delicately slice the puff pastry log into approximately 1”- thick pieces (you will likely want to trim and discard the ends). Carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheet and arrange, leaving a 1” gap. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the pastries have puffed up, are deep golden, and the puff pastry in the centre of each slice no longer looks raw. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes. You may need to bake your puff pastry pinwheels in two batches if they don’t all fit on one baking sheet.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

The Beer Lover's Table - the book

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We have big news! We're delighted to finally reveal the forthcoming publication of our first book, The Beer Lover's Table: Seasonal Recipes & Modern Beer Pairings, written by our wonderful food writer Claire Bullen and HB&B co-founder Jen Ferguson.

This book has been more than three years in the making - Claire first started writing her monthly food and beer column, The Beer Lover's Table, for us back in 2015 and we instantly knew it had the potential to be an incredible book. Over the past year, we've been working together to make this happen - a labour of love fuelled by the world's best beers and Claire's truly exquisite recipes.

The Beer Lover's Table features 65 recipes and perfectly paired beer suggestions, along with insights into iconic beer styles, fantastic beer people and the wonderful craft beer scene, plus vibrant photography from our HB&B beer writer Matthew Curtis and others. It will be published by Dog n Bone in March 2019. We look forward to sharing more closer to publication.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Falafel Pita Sandwiches & Abbeydale Brewery Huckster NEIPA

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Late last year, while sheltering from a Philadelphia snowstorm, I ate the best falafel of my life. Incongruous, but true.

The setting was Goldie — a restaurant which is owned by the Michelin-starred chef Michael Solomonov, but which itself is humble and small, easy enough to walk by without noticing. At Goldie, the falafel were only $7 and came tucked inside a still-warm pita, complete with all the fixings. They weren’t the dried hockey pucks that lurk in so many sorry wraps — instead, these falafel were light, airy, vividly green on the inside and shatteringly crisp of skin. I’ve never been to Tel Aviv, but I bet even there, Goldie’s falafel could compete.

The good news is that trekking to Philadelphia (or Tel Aviv) isn’t necessary for procuring good falafel. I wasn’t initially convinced, but J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe on Serious Eats, which I adapted here, changed my mind. Bright with fresh herbs, his falafel achieve that just-so consistency (unlike many recipes, he skips adding flour or any other binding agents, which prevents them from becoming claggy and dense).

While the falafel I ate at Goldie were washed down with one of the restaurant’s equally irresistible tehina shakes, I’ve opted to pair mine with Abbeydale Brewery’s Huckster New England IPA. The Sheffield-based brewery has attracted a good deal of hype for this hazy, aromatic IPA. And deservedly so: it’s sweet, lightly creamy in the mouth, redolent of stone fruit and has an appealing snap of bitterness in the finish.

The bright, fresh herbs in this dish — basil, parsley, mint, coriander — are lovely alongside this peach of a beer. Up the ante with an extra dose of herbaceousness, courtesy a green tahini sauce and a salad of equal parts diced tomato, cucumber and aromatic nectarine. Altogether, you have a pairing tailor-made for the abundance and sun of late summer.

Falafel Pita Sandwiches
Adapted from Serious Eats and Epicurious
Serves 4

For the falafel:
1 cup (250g) dried chickpeas
2 cups (approximately 55g) cilantro, mint, and parsley leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
3 spring onions, white and light green parts only
830ml vegetable oil (or other neutral frying oil)

For the green tahini sauce
Large handful parsley
½ cup (125ml) high-quality, pourable tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
½ cup (125ml) ice water

For the salad
1 large, just-ripe tomato
1 ripe nectarine
1 small cucumber
Large pinch flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons sumac

To serve
4 pitas
Large handful basil leaves

1. The night before you plan to cook the falafel, add the chickpeas to a large bowl and fill all the way to the top with water. Leave to soak overnight.

2. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Spread out across several paper towels and place more paper towels on top. Gently roll the chickpeas and pat to thoroughly dry.

3. As the chickpeas dry, make the green tahini sauce. Add the parsley, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and blend on low to combine. Turn the motor to high and pour in the ice water in a slow but steady stream. Blend for an additional minute; the sauce should be uniformly green and just thin enough to be pourable. Transfer to a bowl and clean out your food processor.

4. Next, make the falafel. To the cleaned food processor, add the chickpeas alongside the fresh herbs, garlic, salt, spices, and spring onions. Blend on low for 2-3 minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary. The falafel mixture is ready when the ingredients are very finely minced, and when a small spoonful just holds together in a ball. If the falafel mixture isn’t sticking together, blend for an additional 20 seconds at a time until it has the right consistency. Transfer to a bowl, cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, start preparing the salad. Core the tomato and finely dice. Halve the nectarine, remove the pit and finely dice. Peel and seed the cucumber and finely dice. Add all three ingredients to a sieve. Top with the sea salt and pepper and toss lightly. Leave to drain over a bowl.

6. Once the falafel mixture has chilled, remove from the fridge. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop a golf-ball-sized mound and gently compact it (you can do this while the mixture is still in the spoon, to help shape it). Gently transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining mixture; you should have approximately 18 falafel balls.

7. When you’re ready to fry the falafel, fill a cast-iron skillet with the vegetable oil; it should come to approximately ¾-inch up the pan (if not, add additional). Place over high heat. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire rack on top.

8. Check the temperature of the oil with a deep-fat frying thermometer. Once it reaches 165° Celsius, carefully add half the falafel with a fork, ensuring they’re evenly spaced out; the oil will start bubbling rapidly, so take care. Cook for approximately 3-3 ½ minutes, using tongs to flip and rotate the falafel, until they’re evenly golden-brown on the outside, but the crust is still thin enough to be crisp. Transfer to the cooling rack. Check the temperature of the oil; once it is at the right temperature, repeat with the second batch of falafel. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool before cleaning.

9. While the falafel cooks, lightly toast the pita in a toaster or using your oven’s broiler (grill) setting. Lightly press the salad mixture with the back of a spoon to squeeze out any excess liquid, transfer to a bowl, add the sumac and mix to combine. 10. When ready to serve, slice off the top ¼ of each pita and gently separate the bread layers so the pita forms a pocket. Line each pita with basil leaves and add 4 falafel and several tablespoons of the salad mixture. Drizzle over the green tahini sauce and serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen.

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The Beer Lover’s Table: Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin) with Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat

There are some dishes it’s worth turning on your oven for, even in the height of summer. Tachin is one of them. I first tried, and loved, tachin - a Persian dish of baked saffron rice, layered with stewed chicken—several years ago. Recently, a recipe in Bon Appétit encouraged me to try making it myself.

Tachin really is a showstopper of a dish. Made sunny-yellow with copious quantities of saffron, featuring braised chicken and tart barberries, it’s baked until its outside turn crisp and burnished (that crunchy layer of rice, known as tahdig, is completely irresistible). It does require effort, but the feat of having pulled it off makes it all worthwhile.

Whiplash has been brewing remarkable beers for a while now, and Clap Hands, the Irish brewery’s American wheat beer, is no exception. Lively and bright, with the big, fluffy head that you’d expect from the style, Clap Hands is also abundantly hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Lemondrop. That lends it a bold apricot character, plus a touch of tropical sweetness. It pairs seamlessly with the hearty and rich tachin, and complements its saffron perfume beautifully.

Baked Saffron Rice and Chicken (Tachin)
Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 6-8

For the chicken:
450g bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and drumsticks
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon fine sea salt

For the saffron rice:
525g basmati rice
Fine sea salt
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
3 egg yolks
230g Greek yoghurt, plus additional for serving
120ml vegetable oil, plus additional for greasing
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
3-4 tablespoons dried barberries (substitute with finely chopped dried sour cherries) 

1. First, cook the chicken. In a large saucepan with a lid, add the whole chicken pieces, plus the onion, garlic, spices, and sea salt. Cover with cold water. Transfer the saucepan to the stove and place over high heat. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is beginning to fall apart.

2. When the chicken is fully cooked, transfer the pieces to a cutting board and leave until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, pour out all but half a cup of liquid from the saucepan (save the stock for another use in lieu of discarding). Remove the skin from the chicken and shred the meat, using your hands or a fork. Transfer the shredded meat back to the pot with the liquid, and stir to combine. Place over low heat and cook until the mixture is soft and stew-like but not watery, stirring occasionally to prevent it burning. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add to a sieve and rinse under lukewarm, running water for 2-3 minutes, or until the starch has washed away and the water is clear. Fill a large, lidded saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add generous amounts of salt: you want it to be as salty as the sea. Add the rice and cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until it is tender but not fully cooked, and still has a bit of bite in the middle. Drain the rice. Rinse with cold water, and drain again.

4. Crumble the saffron threads between your fingers and add to a ramekin or small bowl. Add the hot water and stir. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 205° C.

5. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, Greek yoghurt, vegetable oil and the saffron mixture, and whisk until smooth and uniform. Taste the drained rice; if it could use some seasoning, add between ½-1 teaspoon of sea salt to the yoghurt mixture, and whisk through. Add the rice to the yoghurt mixture and, using a spatula, fold until evenly coated. Be gentle, as you want the rice grains to remain whole.

6. Grease a large bowl, baking tray, or cake dish - preferably Pyrex, as that lets you see the colour of the rice as it cooks - lightly with vegetable oil. Add half the rice and gently compact into a flat layer. Add the stewed chicken in a single layer, leaving a small margin around the edge, and then top with the remaining rice, patting flat into a compact layer.

7. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for between 1 hour-1 hour and 15 mins; your cooking time will vary depending on the shape of the bowl or tray you use. Begin to check after 1 hour; the tachin is ready when the rice around the edges and bottom is deep golden- brown.

8. Once the tachin is fully cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for five minutes. Meanwhile, make the barberry topping. Add the butter to a small frying pan and place over medium-high heat; once it melts, add the berries, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

9. To serve, remove the foil and place a large serving plate on the top of the tachin. Using oven mitts, carefully flip so the tachin is inverted onto the serving plate. Top with the barberries and butter. Slice and serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, if preferred.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can of Whiplash Clap Hands American Wheat in store or online.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Indian-Spiced Fried Chicken Goujons with Raita and Beavertown X De La Senne Brattish Anglo-Belge Pale Ale

If I could only pick one beer to pair with food for the rest of time, I’d probably go with Brattish – a recent collaboration between Beavertown and Belgium’s De La Senne (and unfortunately for my purposes, only a limited-edition brew).

Billed as an “Anglo-Belge Pale Ale”, this summery beer is all fruity esters on the nose, thanks to its Belgian ale yeast strain. On the palate, it’s still fresh and delicately sweet, but the lingering snap of bitterness makes Brattish exceptionally balanced and versatile. You could serve innumerable dishes with a beer as food-friendly as this one, but I opted for fried chicken goujons. In my opinion, they’re one of the most miraculous things you can cook at home – partly because they’re really just an adultified version of the chicken nuggets you loved so much as a kid, and partly because they’re really, truly not difficult to make.

If you’re the type who quails at the idea of frying anything, know that these are shallow- rather than deep-fried, and cook for just a few minutes: crispy, crunchy, tender, flavourful fried chicken can be yours in no time at all.

To add another dimension, the chicken fillets are also marinated in an Indian-spiced yoghurt mixture, similar to what you’d use if you were making chicken tikka. Serve cooling raita on the side, plus an additional dollop of hot sauce or chutney, if you’d prefer.

Indian-Spiced Fried Chicken Goujons with Raita
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main

For the chicken goujons:
½ cup (130g) Greek yoghurt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
1 green chilli, minced
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala
 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
11 oz (320g) mini chicken breast fillets
½ cup (70g) flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (70g) panko
2 cups (500ml) vegetable oil

For the raita:
¾ cup (200g) Greek yoghurt
1 small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
½ teaspoon coriander
1 small clove garlic, crushed

1. Begin marinating the chicken several hours before you plan to cook. In a medium- sized bowl, add the yoghurt, garlic, ginger, chilli, spices and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Stir well to mix. Add the chicken fillets and mix with a spoon or your hands to ensure they’re well coated. Cover and leave to marinate for at least two hours, or up to overnight.

2. Prepare the raita. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside.

3. When the chicken is done marinating, remove from the fridge. Prepare your batter assembly line. Fill one bowl with flour and the remaining ½ teaspoon of sea salt, whisking to combine. Fill the second bowl with the beaten eggs and the third bowl with the panko crumbs, and set out a large plate at the end. Remove one fillet from the yoghurt, shaking off any excess marinade, and dip into the flour. Toss and flip to evenly coat, and shake off any excess. Quickly dredge the fillet in the egg mixture, coating on both sides, and let any excess egg drip off. Finally, place it in the bowl with the panko crumbs and toss until well coated. Place the battered fillet on the plate and repeat with the rest.

4. When all the fillets are battered, add the vegetable oil to a large frying pan, preferably cast iron, and place over high heat. Heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the oil temperature reaches 180°C/350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Carefully add half of the chicken fillets; they should sizzle rapidly. Cook, rotating and flipping the pieces with tongs frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is crisp and deep golden-brown. You can check that the chicken is cooked through by removing one fillet and slicing into it; the meat inside should be opaque, tender, and flaky.

5. When the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat with the second batch.

6. Serve the chicken while it’s still warm, alongside the raita and additional hot sauce or chutney, if you prefer.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can of Brattish while you can, in store or online.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Pork Kofta Kebabs with Labneh & Rocket and Reutberger Josefi Bock

The arrival of spring means rain showers and growing things, but in beer circles, it also means bock. German bockbiers—which you’ll recognise because their labels are almost always festooned with prancing goats—are traditionally released in the spring after having been brewed and lagered during the cold winter months.

Many beer drinkers are probably familiar with rich, malty doppelbocks, but helles bocks (also known as heller bocks or maibocks) are also worth your while. Reasonably strong but paler in colour than your average doppelbock, these beers are less malt-driven and have a stronger hop presence than their darker cousins.

Brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast, Reutberger’s example of the style is a tawny-hued lager with brilliant clarity. It brings mellow sweetness rather than lingering bitterness—its finish is all toffee and caramel, courtesy of its 50-50 split of light and dark malts.

As with most malt-led German beers, Josefi Bock loves pork. I toyed for a while with pairing it with various braised recipes before settling on something quicker and—while still hearty—slightly fresher. Very much a riff on a classic kofta kebab, this recipe both subs pork for the more traditional lamb and adds a rogue element in the form of an
apricot glaze. Rather than being oversweet, the glaze adds fruitiness and complexity that marry well with the pork while picking up the toffee notes in the beer beautifully.

To tie it all together, I added labneh (Greek yoghurt’s tangy, cheese-like cousin), fruity Aleppo pepper flakes, peppery rocket and fresh mint. Throw the lot together on whatever flatbread you fancy, and wrap it up in foil: this isn’t one for the forks and knives.

Pork Kofta Kebabs with Labneh and Rocket
Serves 4

For the pork koftas:
8 metal or bamboo skewers
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
750g 20% minced pork
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sumac
2 large echalion shallots, finely chopped
1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the apricot glaze:
2.5 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon soy sauce

To serve:
4 large, round flatbreads of your choice (pita, naan, etc.)
Approximately 350g labneh (substitute Greek yoghurt if unavailable)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Several handfuls rocket
Large bunch mint
1 lemon
Aleppo chilli flakes

1. First, make the koftas. If using bamboo skewers, submerge in water and leave to soak. In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, roughly grind the fennel and coriander seeds. Add to a large bowl with the minced pork and the rest of your spices, the shallots, salt and pepper. Work through with your hands until evenly mixed. If you want to check
the seasoning, place a teaspoon-sized amount of the pork mix on a plate and microwave for 20 seconds. Taste and adjust accordingly. Place the pork mix in the fridge and leave to chill for 1 hour. 

2. Remove the skewers from the water and pat to dry. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top of it. Wet a paper towel with vegetable oil and grease the wire rack, so the koftas won’t stick.

3. Remove the pork mixture from the fridge and divide it into two. Set one half aside and divide the other into four even portions. Take one portion and pat it until it’s slightly flattened and rectangular. Place a skewer in the middle and shape the meat around it. Gently roll and compress the meat with your hands until it is a roughly 7–8-inch log, with the skewer running evenly through the length of it. Place on the wire rack-fitted baking sheet. Repeat with the three other portions, and then with the remaining half of the pork. Place the whole tray of koftas in the fridge and leave to chill for roughly 45 minutes.

4. Heat the grill/broiler on your oven to medium-high. Place the kofta tray in for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the tops have darkened in colour. Remove and flip the skewers over and return to the grill/broiler and cook for 5-7 minutes more.

5. As the koftas are cooking, make your apricot glaze. Add all five ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook down for 2-3 more minutes, or until the glaze is syrupy and very thick. Remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl or ramekin.

6. Once the koftas have darkened on both sides, remove from the oven. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze on one side of the koftas and return to the grill for 2-3 minutes, or until they’re starting to look browned and caramelised. Flip the skewers, brush with the rest of the glaze, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

7. Just before serving, heat the flatbreads in the grill/broiler for 1 minute per side until warmed through (you may need to do this in several batches). Arrange each flatbread over a sheet of foil. Dollop a good amount of labneh or yoghurt in the centre of each flatbread and swipe into a long vertical stripe. Season the labneh with flaky salt and a
generous pinch of Aleppo chilli flakes. Top with a good handful of rocket and roughly torn mint leaves. Squeeze lemon juice over the greens and then arrange two koftas on top. Season the meat with additional Aleppo chilli flakes. Carefully fold over both sides of the flatbread to cover the filling and tightly wrap with the foil, folding up the foil at the base
to prevent any leaks. Serve immediately.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of Reutberger Josefi Bock while you can.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Chinese-Caribbean Wings and Elusive x Hop Burns & Black Aztec Challenge Smoked Chilli Porter

Wings are, in many ways, the perfect food. Crispy and juicy when done right, they offer the messy, almost carnal satisfaction of eating with your hands, of failing to care that your face is smeared with sauce and grease. Not a pretty experience, and all the better for it.

Much as I love classic Buffalo wings, I wanted to serve a different iteration alongside Elusive Brewing and Hop Burns & Black’s collaboration smoked porter, Aztec Challenge. Brewed with smoked cherry wood malt, pequin chiles, and scotch bonnet peppers, its kindled heat is tempered by a rich, almost sticky sweetness.

These wings respond in turn. Their sauce riffs on a Sam Sifton recipe for baked Trini-Chinese chicken, and combines Caribbean flavours - potent scotch bonnet hot sauce, the brightness of lime juice - with Chinese ingredients like oyster sauce, soya sauce, and anise-scented five-spice powder.

The wings themselves, made using J. Kenji López-Alt’s tried-and- true double-fry method, are shatteringly crisp underneath that slick of sauce. Sweet, spicy, and umami-laced, they’re just what this beer deserves.

Chinese-Caribbean Wings
Serves two as an appetiser, one as a main

For the wings:
1.5 litres rapeseed oil
500g chicken wings, the juiciest and fattest you can find, cut into flats and drumettes (tips removed)

For the sauce:
10g butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb-sized piece ginger, minced
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
3 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs dark brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs soya sauce
2 tsp scotch bonnet-based hot sauce (try Dalston Chillis' version)
1 spring onion, white parts discarded, very thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

You’ll be frying the wings twice; for the first fry, add the oil and prepared wings to a deep, heavy-bottomed pan and place over medium-high heat. Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor the temperature; you’ll want to raise the heat to between 107-121 degrees C. Cook the wings, stirring and flipping occasionally, until tender and just cooked through, but not golden on the outside, roughly 15-20 minutes.

Remove with tongs or a spider-style strainer to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack and lined with paper towels. Let rest an hour at room temperature or covered in the fridge overnight.

When ready to do your second fry, heat the oil to 205 degrees C and remove your chicken from the fridge. While it’s heating up, prep the sauce: place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the garlic and ginger and stir frequently until the raw flavour and aroma has dissipated and the mixture is starting to brown, 3-5 minutes. Next, add the five-spice powder and stir quickly to toast before adding the oyster sauce, dark brown sugar, lime juice, soya sauce, and hot sauce. Turn heat to low and cook until just warmed through, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Once the oil is at temperature, carefully add the chicken pieces with tongs to avoid splattering. Stir to make sure they’re not sticking to each other or the bottom of the pot. Cook, keeping the oil temperature ideally between 190-200 degrees (it will drop when the wings are added) for roughly 10 minutes, or until the wings are crispy and golden. Remove from the oil to the wire rack and let rest for a moment.

Pour your sauce into a large bowl and add the wings. Toss well until all pieces are well coated. Serve in a bowl, topped with sliced spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of our Elusive collab Aztec Challenge while you can.

The Beer Lover's Table: Duck, Blood Orange & Radicchio Salad and 8 Wired Saison Sauvin

Duck salad has long been one of my go-to speedy dinners. Typically, I pair pan-fried duck breast with spinach, caramelised onions, and cherry tomatoes, but it’s an almost infinitely customisable recipe. In this cold-weather iteration, for instance, I opted instead to use vibrant purple radicchio, blood orange segments, balsamic-roasted shallots, and
lemony sorrel (the latter an early signifier of spring). 

What you get is a salad of enormous punch and vigour. The radicchio brings a bass note of bitterness, the blood oranges a dose of acid, the shallots a burnt caramel sweetness and then, of course, the centrepiece duck, crispy of skin and richly gamey. This is no wan, wilting plate of greens, and so it makes sense to pair it with 8 Wired's Saison Sauvin.

This New Zealand saison is a regular in my rotation. Made with, as its name suggests, Nelson Sauvin hops, it's floral and estery on the nose, vinous on the palate and leaves a railing, pithy bitterness in its wake. It’s everything I want from a dinnertime beer: complex enough that you’re tempted to pause after every sip to parse out its tasting notes, but also utterly drinkable. It stands up ably to the salad’s bold flavours, and tastes slightly sweeter besides it.

Just one note of warning: as some industry experts might say, this beer has the potential to be a foamy hello-er, so you may want to open it over the sink and have a glass at the ready!

End-of- Winter Duck, Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
Serves two

For the salad:
2 duck breasts
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste
4 round shallots
1 Tbs balsamic glaze
100g walnuts
1 head of radicchio
20g sorrel leaves (you can substitute watercress or spinach if preferred)
2 blood oranges

For the dressing:
2 tsp minced ginger
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs blood orange juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2.5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. First, prep your duck breasts: dry off using paper towels. With a very sharp knife, lightly score the skin in a crosshatch (without slicing into the meat below); this will help the fat under the skin render out during cooking. Season both sides, generously, with sea salt and black pepper, and set aside, allowing to come to
room temperature if fridge-cold.

Slice your shallots in half, length-wise, and peel. Place cut-sides up on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until softened, fragrant, and starting to caramelise.

Meanwhile, in a small, dry frying pan, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until darkened and fragrant. Set aside and allow to cool. Roughly chop.

Next, prepare the radicchio and blood oranges. Remove any wilty outer leaves from the radicchio, core it, and then roughly chop it into large pieces. Then, supreme your blood oranges: cut off the ends and then slice off the peel and all of the white pith in long strips. Next, carefully slice out each segment, leaving behind any of the tough membrane. If
you're not familiar with the technique, this is a good visual demonstration.

Now, it's time to prepare the duck. Heat a medium, heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the duck breasts skin-side down and cook for approximately 6 minutes; you don't need to add any oil as the fat will render out. As the fat renders, keep a small bowl and a spoon at hand, and spoon out the excess (you can save this for later—it's brilliant on roast potatoes). Check how the skin is doing; once it's deep golden and crisp, flip the breasts over, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 3-4 more minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

As the duck rests, prepare the dressing: add the ginger, vinegar, blood orange juice, mustard, and olive oil to a small bowl and whisk. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk again.

To serve, slice the duck thinly. On your plates, arrange the radicchio and sorrel. Top with the blood orange segments and walnuts; roughly separate the shallots and scatter across the salad. Arrange your duck slices over the top, and then pour over the dressing. Season to taste with a bit more salt and pepper.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a bottle of 8 Wired Saison Sauvin in store or online.