Saison

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,

#HBBAdvent Beer 20: Unity x Duration x Boxcar The Ground Up Farmhouse IPA (Southampton)

Unity says: Hops meet funk in this lightly soured IPA liberally hopped with Styrian Wolf and Dragon.

We say: Unity has constantly impressed us this year, and when we saw the team had collaborated with two of our favourite bunches of brewery folk - Boxcar and Duration, good friends as well as frequent visitors to HB&B Towers - we knew we had to get this beer in our advent box. The Ground Up is a fantastic saison - biscuity, lightly citrus with a balanced dose of funk too. Nice one guys, we ❤ you.

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: 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.

#HBBAdvent Beer 15: 8 Wired Saison Sauvin (New Zealand)

8 Wired says: This is a very modern, you might say new world, interpretation of this style. Based on the tradition we have used a Farmhouse yeast, which provides a plethora of funky, earthy, very "Belgian" flavours. From there we have upped the ante a fair bit by doubling the amount of malt, and thereby the alcohol, and loaded the kettle with punchy Nelson Sauvin hops.

We say: Not a lot of people know this (OK, quite a few people know this), but we were not only one of the first places in the country to stock the New Zealand Beer Collective beers, we also launched the Collective itself with a riotous night at the shop back in February 2015. One day we'll recover all of the memories...

Anyway, all "we liked them before they were cool" skiting aside, New Zealand beer still plays an important part in the life of HB&B three years on, and this beautiful saison from 8 Wired has been a firm favourite from the first day we tried it that fateful February. Happy Friday! - Jen

Fundamentals #16 – Anspach & Hobday The Pfeffernüsse Saison (A Christmas Gift for You)

Hello, this is Matthew Curtis.

It is so difficult at this time to say words that would express my feelings about the beer to which you have just consumed. A beer that has been in the planning for many, many months First, let me thank all the people who worked so hard with Anspach & Hobday in the production of this beverage and in their endeavour and desire to bring something new and different to the beer of Christmas. And to the brewing industry which is so much a part of our lives.

Of course, the biggest thanks goes to you, for giving me the opportunity to relate my feelings of Christmas through the beer that I love. This intensely spiced Pfeffernüsse Saison features notes of cloves, cinnamon, biscuit and brown sugar, with the saison yeast leading way to an intensely dry finish. May you enjoy it now, or in several years time as it slowly ages towards perfection.

At this moment, I am very proud of all the brewers and on behalf of all of them, Anspach & Hobday, Hop Burns & Black and myself. May we wish you the very merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years. And thank you so very much for letting us spend this Christmas with you.

(With no disrespect to the artists involved to the recording of the wonderful A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector and friends. Except for Spector himself, who turned out to be a murdering bastard. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, you filthy animals.)

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis as UK editor of Good Beer Hunting and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Pick up this very special festive brew in store or online.

#HBBAdvent Beer 6: Burning Sky Petite Saison (Sussex)

Burning Sky says: This mixed fermentation saison is a light and easy drinking small beer. Aged in white wine barrels, this delicate beer was then dry hopped for a refreshing finish before bottling.

We say: A little saison worthy of big praise…

I don’t remember the last time I didn’t enjoy a beer from Burning Sky, without a doubt one of the very best breweries in the UK. The Most Memorable award probably goes to the 750ml of the incredible Cuvee Reserve I (miserably) necked when the Brexit vote came in, but this delicate number is my current fave.

Light and effervescent with a bit of warming spice and clocking in at just 3.5%, it’s a cracking Wednesday night brew. - Cat

The Beer Lover’s Table: Sweet and Savoury Phyllo Pie and The Kernel Bière de Saison Apricot

If you missed the chance to get your hands on Cantillon’s latest Fou’Foune release, don’t fret: just pick up a bottle of The Kernel’s Bière de Saison Apricot instead.

It isn’t hyperbole—this is a truly exquisite, albeit underrated beer. One of the newest releases from The Kernel’s esteemed barrel-ageing programme, this Bière de Saison is a heady blend of aged and fresh saisons, which sits in the barrel with Bergeron apricots (the very same heritage variety that goes into Fou’Foune) for approximately six months. It’s elegant, tart, bright with apricot and lemon notes and undergirded by yeasty complexity.

Given how well cheese and saison go together, I wanted to explore that pairing here. But—to complement this beer’s beautiful apricot character—I wanted a lightness and delicacy, too. So I settled on this sweet and savoury phyllo pie: it’s flaky, gooey with cheese, but also drizzled with honey, perfumed with rosewater, and topped with crushed pistachios.

Think of this recipe as a combination of Old Rag Pie (a Greek recipe by way of Nigella Lawson, which is packed with crumbled feta, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and fresh thyme leaves) and künefe (a cheese pastry that’s soaked in syrup and is eaten for dessert in Turkey, Palestine, and elsewhere across the Levant). Or perhaps categorise it as a Mediterranean cheesecake.

Whatever you do—and whether you serve it with a simple side salad for dinner or add extra rose petals and honey for a quasi-dessert—just make sure you’ve got this world-class beer to go with.

Sweet and Savoury Phyllo Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Nigella Lawson
Serves 2-4

7 sheets of phyllo dough (defrosted, if you're starting from frozen)
60g melted butter
100g feta
120g fresh goat’s cheese
10g grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
100ml whole milk
50ml double cream
2 large eggs
2 tsp rosewater, divided
40g lightly toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
Honey, to taste
Dried rose petals, to garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. In a square 8-inch Pyrex baking tray or cake tin, add your first layer of phyllo dough and brush with melted butter (it should overhang the sides). Take two more sheets of phyllo dough and tear them into rough pieces; scrunch loosely and place so that they cover the base layer of dough. 

Crumble half of the goat cheese and half of the feta over this first layer of scrunched up phyllo. Add half of the thyme leaves, half of the grated Parmigiano, and a good drizzle of melted butter. 

Now, repeat. Top with two more scrunched layers of torn phyllo. Crumble the remaining goat cheese and feta over, and add the remaining thyme leaves and Parmigiano. Drizzle over with more butter, reserving a small amount.

For your last two pieces of phyllo dough, tear in larger sheets and arrange over the top. Fold up any overhanging bits of dough, and pat into place. Drizzle over the remaining butter. Make two lengthwise and two widthwise cuts with the sharp end of a knife.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the milk, double cream, eggs, and 1 tsp of the rosewater. Pour evenly over the phyllo layers and allow to soak in for 15 minutes. Top with the pistachios.

Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until puffed and beginning to turn golden on the top. Cover with foil and bake for another 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let sit and cool slightly for 5-10 minutes. Drizzle over with honey to taste, and the remaining 1 tsp rosewater. Garnish with dried rose petals, if you wish. Serve while warm.

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 The Kernel's strictly limited Biere de Saison Apricot while you can.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Fried Sage and Hazelnut Relish and Burning Sky Saison L'Automne

From chestnuts to squash, autumn calls forth a bounty of seasonal ingredients that are all the more enticing for their ephemerality. But beyond all the pumpkins, the season’s arrival also heralds a slew of autumnal beers worth seeking out for the few short months that they can be found on the shelves.

Case in point: Burning Sky's elegant Saison L'Automne. Made with late-summer blackberries plucked from the wild brambles that surround the brewery, as well as pink peppercorns and grains of paradise, it pours the subtlest shade of blush in the glass. In the mouth, its fruit is subtle, too: a tart blackberry essence is just detectable, while a whisper of pepper rounds out each gulp.

Brewed with Burning Sky's house saison yeast, as well as brettanomyces and lactobacillus, the beer has a beautiful complexity now; leave it longer and it’ll only continue to evolve and incline further towards funkiness.

I like my saisons paired with cheese, whose richness they're adept at tempering, and what better way to turn cheese into a complete meal than a grilled cheese sandwich (or, for my British brethren, a toastie)?

Whatever you prefer to call it, this sandwich is made with two positively unctuous characters—Taleggio and Délice de Bourgogne, an exquisite triple crème cheese—as well as fried sage leaves (an excellent foil to blackberry) and a crunchy hazelnut relish.

Fancy enough to impress, but simple enough to make for yourself in 20 short minutes, it offers just the right amount of autumnal decadence—especially with this beer on the side.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Hazelnut Relish and Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 2

For the hazelnut relish:
50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
3 1/2 tbs olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch Maldon sea salt

In a food processor, pulse together all of the ingredients until the hazelnut is finely chopped and the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

For the fried sage leaves:
20g salted butter
20 fresh sage leaves

In a small frying pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. As soon as it has melted, add the sage leaves in a single layer, making sure they aren't overlapping. Fry for approximately two minutes, or until the leaves have darkened in colour and have crisped.

Gently remove from the pan with a fork or slotted spoon, and allow to drain and cool on a paper towel for five minutes.

For the sandwiches:
4 large slices of bread, preferably a rustic sourdough
Salted butter, softened
100g Taleggio, rind removed
100g Délice de Bourgogne, rind removed (or substitute another triple crème cheese)

To assemble your sandwiches, first generously butter both sides of each piece of bread with salted butter. On one piece of bread (setting a second aside for the time being), build your sandwich fillings by layering half of the Taleggio and Délice de Bourgogne, topping off with a generous amount of relish and 10 fried sage leaves. Repeat with the second sandwich.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the two cheese-topped slices, bread-side down, pressing the second pieces of bread onto the top of each once in the pan. Cook on one side for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is starting to get gooey and the bottom bread has gone a toasty golden brown; flip your sandwiches carefully and continue to cook on the opposite side for 2-3 more minutes.

When done, remove from the pan and let sit for a minute before slicing in half and serving.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Whole Roasted Salmon and Elusive Brewing/Hop Burns & Black Bright Future Blood Orange Blossom Saison

It’s a tip I learned from a friend of mine a few years ago, and one I still prize: when having a large group over for dinner, roast salmon. The whole salmon.

More than a main course, whole roasted salmon is a centrepiece, gigantic and silvered. It’s also a participatory spectacle: people dig in, seek out belly fat or tender cheeks, flip the fish over in unison after one side has been picked clean. It’s a gleeful mess. There’s something primal and communal and bonding in the shared eating of such a fish.

Salmon can be seasoned in a million different ways, but because summer is approaching, Provençal flavours feel especially appropriate. In this preparation, the fish is roasted on a bed of fennel and onion that’s doused in glugs of vermouth. Tarragon perfumes it with its anise scent, and several additions of orange - zest, slices, even orange-infused olive oil - recall sunnier climes.

Speaking of orange: it’s also one of the reasons this salmon works so well with Bright Future, which Hop Burns & Black brewed in collaboration with Elusive Brewing. This blood orange blossom saison also makes use of orange juice and zest, as well as orange blossom honey. It’s yeasty, citrusy, and fantastically quenching.

It’s also ephemeral. Make the most of this limited-edition beauty then, and invite a big group over for dinner. Preferably friends who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Whole Roasted Salmon with Orange, Fennel, and Provençal Herbs
Serves 8-10

1 3-kilo salmon
3 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 tbs Maldon sea salt, plus more to season
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
8 tbs olive oil, divided
4 tbs white vermouth (I used Cinzano Bianco)
25g flat-leaf parsley, divided
25g tarragon, divided
25g dill, divided
2 oranges
Orange-infused olive oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees C. Line your largest roasting pan with heavy-duty foil. Add the sliced onion and fennel, and sprinkle over with the sea salt and black pepper. Pour over 4 tbs of the olive oil and the white vermouth.

Take half of your parsley, tarragon, and dill, and chop finely. Zest your oranges (preferably with a Microplane grater, so you don’t remove any of the bitter pith), and mix with the chopped herbs.

Meanwhile, prep your salmon. Pat the inside and outside dry with paper towel. Ensure it’s been fully scaled (if there are any remaining scales, scrape the back of your knife against the grain of the scales to remove). On an angle, make five long, 2cm-deep slits in the salmon’s side with a sharp knife. In each slit, add extra sea salt to season, as well as your chopped herb and orange zest mixture. Sprinkle sea salt across the salmon’s skin and flip, repeating the same steps on the other side of the salmon.

Season the salmon’s cavity generously with sea salt. Slice the two oranges that you zested and place the slices with the cavity, as well as the remaining herbs. Pour the remaining 4 tbs of olive oil over the salmon.

Add your salmon to your very hot oven and cook for 15 minutes - salmon is a fatty fish and will smoke, so make sure your kitchen is well ventilated. If your salmon drapes over the edges of your roasting pan and threatens to touch the edges of your oven, cover those exposed bits in foil to prevent scorching.

After 15 minutes have passed, lower the heat to 180 degrees C and cook the salmon for approximately 20 more minutes, covering loosely with foil if it begins to look too dark. After 20 minutes, remove the salmon carefully from the oven. Use Jamie Oliver’s method and check to see if it’s cooked through: stick a small knife in the thickest part of the salmon, behind its head. Leave for several seconds before removing the knife and feeling for heat; if it’s warm, the salmon is cooked. If not, return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Once the salmon is cooked through, remove from the oven and serve alongside the roasted fennel and onion; you can serve it with spinach and lentils on the side if you wish. Drizzle with orange-infused olive oil.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. Pick up some of our succulent collab while stocks last in store or at our online shop

#HBBAdvent Beer 15: Burning Sky Saison L'Automne (Sussex)

Burning Sky says: This worker's strength saison is our seasonal beer. The base recipe remains the same and uses the same strains of yeast as our Provision Saison but changes to reflect the seasons in the inspirational countryside that surrounds Burning Sky Brewery. The autumn hedgerows have been laden with rosehips this year and we have blended a large portion in to give a subtle perfume and enticing colour to the beer.

We say: We couldn't do an advent calendar without including Burning Sky. Hell, we'd buy an entire advent calendar consisting only of Burning Sky. We love this brewery. Burning Sky does everything well but saisons are a particular speciality - no one gets the funk like Mark Tranter and his team. This autumnal saison is especially well suited to drinking with food - we reckon it'd be a great match for our food writer Claire Bullen's column this week - or just enjoy on its own with your feet up. -Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find Burning Sky Saison L'Automne in store or via our online shop.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Bulgogi and Brew by Numbers Saison Citra

There’s a lot to be said for eschewing ‘festive’ traditions that bring no real joy — and if there’s a joyless food, it’s turkey. Miserly with its fat, yet excessive in bulk: why do we eat this thing, again? It’s the reason duck has been a staple at my past few Thanksgivings, and why I think bulgogi may be the perfect Christmas dinner.

Bulgogi (Korean marinated beef, for the uninitiated) might go better with kimchi than with cranberry sauce, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t holiday-appropriate. Its heady mix of garlic, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil and chilli excels in the fragrant-kitchen department, for starters. It marinates for hours, but cooks quickly. And — an important consideration, when you’re sharing food with those you love — it’s best served family-style, with plenty of accompaniments on the side. Fried eggs, spring onions, the aforementioned kimchi, and a fiery red sauce made with gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste): mix them all in and enjoy a Christmas dinner with actual kick.

These bulgogi bowls have sweetness, purring heat, acidic tang and fermented funk, all of which suggest that they might be difficult to pair with beer. But Brew by Numbers’ Saison Citra was an ideal fit. 01|01 is beautifully golden, boasts a juicy-fruit demeanor, and has a whiff of real pungency about it, courtesy of the Citra. Its own multi- dimensionality means it works with sweetness and with funk, while its sheer gulpability bats away heat. It’s a damn good beer for an extra special dinner.

Bulgogi Bowls
Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4-5

For the bulgogi:
½ pear (Asian pear, preferably), peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs ginger, grated
1 tbs demerera sugar
1 tbs toasted sesame oil
500g steak (you could use skirt, topside, or another cut that takes well to marinating and searing)

Add the pear, garlic, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, ginger, sugar, and sesame oil to a ziploc freezer bag. Meanwhile, slice the beef into very thin slices — about as thin as you can get — and add to the bag. Seal the bag and ensure the marinade and beef are well mixed. Place in the fridge and allow the meat to marinate for 6-8 hours.

For the sauce:
4 tbs gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
2 tbs sesame oil
2 tbs demerera sugar
2 tbs toasted sesame seeds
3 tbs water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated

Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until well blended.

For the rice:
500g sushi rice
660ml water

Rinse your rice in a sieve under cold water for several minutes, stirring gently with your fingers as you do, or until the water runs just about clear. Add the drained rice and the water to a saucepan and heat on high until the mix has come to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand, with the lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice.

To assemble:
2 tbs vegetable oil
Sea salt
Toasted sesame seeds
Spring onions
Kimchi
Fried eggs

Once the rice has been cooked and the sauce prepared, get ready to fry your beef. Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat on high until very hot. Add the beef to the pan in a single layer (you will likely have to cook in several batches) and season lightly with sea salt. Cook for a minute or so until lightly browned. Flip, and toss the meat, continuing to cook over high heat, for 2-3 minutes more, or until nicely browned.

To assemble, divide the rice between the bowls. Top each with a generous helping of the bulgogi. To each bowl, you can add a healthy dollop of kimchi and top with a fried egg. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and spring onions. Drizzle over with sauce — the more, the spicier.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And swing over to the shop or the online store to pick up Brew By Numbers Saison Citra while stocks last.

#HBBAdvent Beer 4: Kernel Biere de Saison (Bermondsey)

The Kernel says: ---

We say: The Kernel usually prefers to let the beers doing the talking, and this is no exception. While best known for the iconic Table Beer and stunning IPAs which rank with the very best in the world, the Kernel team are also dab hands when it comes to sours, saisons and barrel ageing. This limited edition beer brings together all of the above. The Kernel team have blended a classic saison with some of their glorious London Sour to add extra tartness, before ageing in Burgundy barrels. The result is a light, citrusy, slightly funky concoction that we could drink all day. (Be warned - a couple of these bottles have been known to gush. Have a glass ready!) - Jen

Each night, we'll reveal the day's hand-picked beer from our Big Beery Advent Calendar. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter or Instagram (#HBBAdvent). Find the Kernel Biere de Saison in 330ml or 750ml sharing bottles, in store or via our online shop.

The Beer Lover’s Table: Harissa Roast Chicken and Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison

Everyone needs to have a good roast chicken recipe in their back pocket. It’s one of the single most soulful, satisfying things you can make; it’s quick enough not to be a faff, but worthy of special occasions. Its aroma is the distilled essence of hospitality. You’re safe, and the world is a good place, when there’s a chicken in the oven.

Though simple is often best when it comes to roast chicken, I also like mine with a bit of spice. Like harissa, a chilli paste by way of North Africa. Made with roasted chillies, spices, and – in this case – rose petals, it’s a little bit smoky, quite hot, and deliciously complex. Harissa is the star of this marinade, alongside zingy lemon, garlic, and honey.

There are certain beers that go well with food, and then there are those that taste even better with dinner on the side. For me, Partizan’s Lemon & Thyme Saison falls squarely into the latter category. On its own, this sessionable 3.8 percenter is light of body and easy-drinking, and has a good deal of lemony sharpness; its flavour profile already suggests culinary potential. But in the company of this chicken, its sharpness is traded in for balance and roundness, its light body made a refreshing counterpart, its lemon flavour perfectly matched.

As soon as it gets cool enough to turn your oven on, then, make this your plan for dinner – it’s a perfect, seasonal bridge of a recipe.

Harissa Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken (around 1.7 kilos)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1.5 lemons
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 tsp honey
1 tsp ground coriander
3.5 tbs rose harissa paste
2 tbs olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

First, spatchcock or butterfly your chicken. If you haven’t used this method before, it takes only a couple of minutes to prep, and it leads to a much better bird: by pressing the chicken flat, it cooks more evenly – no more over-cooked breasts and underdone thighs here – and much more quickly (a dinner party advantage).

To spatchcock your bird, take a very sharp knife or a pair of sturdy kitchen shears. Remove the backbone by snipping or slicing along both ends of the spine (save this bit and make a very delicious homemade stock). Once the spine has been removed, place the bird, breast-side up, in front of you, and press on its breastbone with your hands. You should hear a small snap, and the chicken should flatten. Here’s an instructional video, should you want a visual guide.

Place the bird on a wire rack set inside a foil-lined tray. To make your harissa marinade, whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Use two-thirds of this marinade to coat both sides of your bird, working some underneath the skin, and reserve the last third to use as a serving sauce. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least three to four hours, or up to a day.

When your chicken is ready to go, heat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cook the bird for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through so it cooks evenly (you may want to check for browning at around 25 minutes – if it’s looking dark, you can tent loosely with foil while waiting for it to finish cooking). After it’s out of the oven, stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh and, if the juices run clear, you’re golden.

When the chicken is ready, quarter it and drizzle over the remaining harissa sauce. I also served mine with a bowl of Israeli couscous salad on the side.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And pick up some delicious Partizan Lemon & Thyme Saison via our online shop...

The Beer Lover’s Table: Spicy Cheeseburgers and Wild Beer Co Epic Saison

It’s barbecue season, baby – and if you know what’s what, you’ll be making burgers faster than you can slam them into your face. It’s what summer’s all about.

A well-executed burger needs to achieve a few things. It needs juiciness, with a tender, pink middle. It needs a bun that doesn’t disintegrate in the wake of that juiciness. It needs ooze – cheese and, in this case, caramelised onions. It needs a bit of greenery and freshness.

But most importantly, it needs balance: of salt, of umami, of sweetness, of acid. Cheese addresses the first concern, beef the second; caramelised onions are beautifully sweet, and as for the acid? Skip the pickles and reach for the hot sauce.

In this case, I’ve opted for not one, but two different forms of chilli (this is a Hop Burns and Black column, after all). The first is sambal oelek: a chunky, Southeast Asian-hailing garlic and chilli sauce. It’s complex, tangy, and has a whiff of the fermented about it, thanks to the prawn paste that usually features. The second chilli sauce is trusty old Sriracha, which hasn’t let me down yet. Together, they add vinegar and heat, acid and funk – and play a big role in making this burger utterly moreish.

Many people would instinctively reach towards a pale ale or IPA when serving cheeseburgers, and they’re not wrong: hops are as effective at cutting through fat as pickles and onions are. But in this case, we’re making spicy burgers – and unless you’re one of those die-hard chilli heads who wants to up the ante, stay away from hops, which tend to emphasise heat.

Instead, reach for the saison – Wild Beer Co’s Epic Saison, to be specific. This is one of the most food-friendly beers I’ve yet encountered: dry, effervescent, with the tiniest hint of tang, it’s a golden-hued, refreshing, yeasty wonder. Sorachi Ace hops are distinct – and do their work to temper greasy food – without hijacking the thing. And at 5%, it can stand up to a burger but is still rather sessionable; an important consideration in high barbecue season. Now: don’t you have some burgers to go make?

Spicy Cheeseburgers
Serves 4

For the beer-braised onions:
2 red onions, finely sliced
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
Sea salt
½ tsp sugar
Wild Beer Co. Epic Saison

For the burgers:
500g 15% beef mince
1 ½ tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander
4 thick slices taleggio, rind removed
Rocket
4 sesame-seed brioche buns
Sambal oelek, to taste
Sriracha, to taste

First, crack on with the beer-braised onions: these need about half an hour to caramelise, so you’ll want to get that out of the way first. In a small skillet, melt the butter along with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sprinkle over the sea salt, which will help them caramelise faster.

The trick to making caramelised onions – aside from patience – is to cook them over low heat, stirring frequently. You don’t want the onions to brown quickly from the hot pan; rather, you want the browning to come from the very slow caramelisation of natural sugars within the onions. Cook for close to half an hour, or until the onions have changed colour and have a sticky, jam-like consistency. Then, pour over a splash of beer – enough to moisten the onions and have them floating in a bit of liquid – and cook, stirring frequently, over high heat until the liquid has been mostly evaporated. The onions should look almost stewed. Add sugar to balance out any residual bitterness, remove from the heat, and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the beef, mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. With your hands, mix until all ingredients are well incorporated (the mixture should be fragrant with Dijon). Separate and gently flatten into four patties. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat until hot and add the patties. For medium-rare, cook for two to two-and- a-half minutes per side; after the first side has cooked and you’ve flipped the burgers, top with taleggio while in the skillet so the cheese gets good and melty.

While the burgers are cooking, slice and toast your brioche buns, cut sides down, in a dry skillet until lightly browned.

To assemble, add a good layer of rocket to the bottom half of your bun. Top with the cheese-covered burger patty. On top of the cheese, add a generous layer of the caramelised onions before finishing off with both chilli sauces, until it’s spiced to your preference. Demolish.

Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and all-around lover of tasty things. When she's not cracking open a cold one, she's probably cooking up roasted lamb with hummus. Or chicken laksa. Or pumpkin bread. You can follow her at @clairembullen. And why not grab Wild Beer Co Epic Saison at our online shop?

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes XVII – Partizan Lemongrass Saison

Some beers are just made for food. Some are even made with ingredients you’d associate with cooking as opposed to brewing. Then there are some beers that go as far as using food itself as an ingredient.

Take the boys from Northern Monk, for example. They recently teamed up with The Real Junk Food Project to brew a saison that includes leftover pastries and pears as ingredients. It sounds bonkers, but this beer is actually using ingredients that otherwise would have gone to waste. I was fortunate enough to swing by the brewery when they were making it and can’t wait to finally get a taste.

Saison is a great style to use as a blank canvas for more unusual ingredients, perhaps because of the way the dry and tangy saison yeast strain provides something for these flavours to lean on. Bermondsey’s Partizan has used the saison as its own carte blanche to go mental. Alternative variants of its saisons include a lemon and thyme infused recipe that almost tastes more like a marinade than a beer, and one that attempts to mimic the flavours of the classic negroni cocktail.

The one I’m drinking today is flavoured with lemongrass and it’s arguably one of Partizan’s best beers. The incredibly light body balances the snap of saison yeast with delicate flavours of lemongrass, which are followed by a bone-dry finish. As you’d expect it’s exceptional with food, particularly fragrantly spiced Thai curries or Vietnamese noodle soups. It’s also surprisingly decent with roast chicken as it is with hot wings in buffalo sauce.

 

Music Pairing: A Flock of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)
Tonight at the shop we’re hosting the next installment of the live tasting that was inspired by these posts. Getting Away With It is our homage to some of our favourite 80s electronic tracks and a chance to enjoy some kickass beers in good company. If you’re quick you can probably still snap up a ticket.

Wishing, by the wonderful A Flock of Seagulls, made our shortlist but didn’t make it into our final six for the night. So what better way to celebrate this great track than to pair it with this eclectic saison from Partizan. I think you’ll find it works as well with this track as it does with a steaming bowl of chicken pho.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. And you can get Partizan Lemongrass Saison delivered to your door via our online shop.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 20: Brew By Numbers Saison Citra / Amarillo & Orange, 5.8% (SE London)

glenn@hopburnsblack.co.uk

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

BBNO says: "The Citra Saison is Brew By Numbers' modern interpretation of a Belgian farmhouse classic. The hops balance the yeast character while a light spicing adds complexity. The Amarillo & Orange is brewed using Amarillo hops (known for their orange-like flavour) and Seville orange peel. It's light, refreshing and incredibly drinkable - a truly seasonal saison."

We say: We couldn't have an advent calendar of our favourite breweries without including BBNO and we couldn't have BBNO without including one of their saisons - or in this case, two, the Citra or the Amarillo & Orange, depending on when your advent calendar was purchased. The BBNO team were originally inspired by a trip to Belgium and the crisp and funky saisons they tasted there, and this fascination is borne out by the 15+ different saisons they regularly brew. Lovely stuff.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 18: Brooklyn Sorachi Ace 7.2% (US)

glenn@hopburnsblack.co.uk

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Brooklyn says: "Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is a classic saison, an unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, with a clean malt flavour and the quirky Sorachi Ace hop standing front and centre. Dry-hopping releases Sorachi Ace’s bright, spicy aromatics to tickle the nose before ascending into a fine harmony between pilsner malt and playful Belgian ale yeast. Brooklyn Sorachi Ace is sunshine in a glass, a shining example of the versatility of one of the world’s most intriguing hops. This beer is a superstar at the table, and we enjoy it with seafood dishes, fresh cheeses, poultry, barbecue, and even tomato-based pasta sauces."

We say: Brooklyn is best known for its near-ubiquitous lager but this is the undisputed star of the stable. We were first introduced to this when a friend gave us a 750ml bottle and we fell instantly in love. A beer that goes with everything but tastes best on its own. A beer to toast with - a beer to toast yourself with, for having such exquisite taste.

Big Beery Advent Calendar - Beer 7: Partizan Lemongrass Saison, 4.4% (SE London)

Each night at 8pm, we'll post a blog about the day's hand-picked beer in our Big Beery Advent Calendar - why we love the brewery, why we've chosen the beer, why we think you'll love it too. Feel free to comment below or have your say on Twitter.

Partizan says: Not much.

We say: Andy from Partizan inherited the Kernel's old kit back in 2009 and he and his team have been cooking up great short-batch beers in Bermondsey ever since. We’ve stocked this from the very day we opened and we’ve never met a dish it doesn’t like. Lightly perfumed, floral and zesty, it’s a perfect accompaniment for food, and a knock-out match for Thai curry. (Try it for yourself at Peckham’s own Begging Bowl - it gets the full HB&B seal of approval.) Also: kudos to Alec Doherty for the amazing label design. Every label tells a story and no two are the same.

Matthew Curtis's No More Heroes IV – Chorlton Brewing Co. Farmhouse IPA

Chorlton Farmhouse IPA.jpg

When I think of Manchester, I first think of the fantastic music that the city has spawned. It’s responsible for seminal bands such as Joy Division, The Smiths and perhaps one of my all time favourites, The Chameleons. You might be thinking: “Who the hell are The Chameleons?” and rightly so – they never quite broke through to the mainstream but if you listen to tracks such as ‘Don’t Fall’, ‘In Shreds’ and ‘Tears’ you’ll struggle to understand why.

Much like the early 80s, the last 18 months has seen an explosion of innovative new breweries, such as Cloudwater and Track Brewing Co, emerge onto the Manchester scene. One of these breweries, perhaps one that hasn’t quite been getting the attention it deserves, is Chorlton Brewing Co – and quite interestingly it’s a brewery that is concentrating almost exclusively on sour beers.

They might not be to everyone’s taste but sour beers are rapidly gaining popularity, encouraging a whole new wave of palates to discover great beer. Chorlton produce a range of sour beers, from dry-hopped kettle sours such as its Yakima Sour, to the beer I have in front of me now, Farmhouse IPA.

This isn’t an IPA as you know it, in fact it’s a combination of two beers that have been blended together or ‘vatted’ to produce the finished product. In this case it’s a blend of an IPA that has been aged with the wild yeast Brettanomyces (Brett) and another that has been fermented with saison yeast.

Farmhouse IPA absolutely honks with the characteristic cedarwood and barnyard aromas that typifies a beer fermented with Brett. There’s also a hint of lemon juice on the nose. On the palate there’s a twisted combination of funk and resinous hops that somehow holds it together. The flavours are chaotic, but gloriously so.

It’s by no means a refined beer but then that’s not the point. Much like The Chameleons, it’s harder to get than what you’d consider mainstream but once you do get it, you simply can’t put it down.

You can find more from beer writer Matthew Curtis at his excellent beer blog, Total Ales, and Good Beer Hunting, and on Twitter @totalcurtis. Matt also took the photo above.