Witbier Steamed Clams and Mussels Over Linguine


Alright, so this was my first time cooking with clams and mussels. Beer is classically used in Belgium to steam mussels, so being "the beer cook" I knew I eventually needed to make something with beer and shellfish. I originally wanted to make linguine with clams, and then decided to use both mussels and clams for my dish. It all turned out really yummy and I was pleasantly surprised by the price of the shellfish (especially the mussels!) and how easy they are to prepare. I can't wait to cook with this stuff again. I also decided to try out a new beer for this recipe. I wanted a Belgian Witbier to cook the shellfish with and saw Troublette at Whole Foods. It's from a brewery in Belgium called Brasserie Caracole (Caracole means snail. Look at the cute little snail on the bottle!) I had never had it before but saw online that it had some pretty great reviews so I grabbed it. I'm glad that I did because it ended up working beautifully.

So it was pretty exciting to make this dish. The mussels and clams are supposed to stay alive until you cook them. They should be tightly closed before cooking. If one of them is open and doesn't close when you tap on it, it means it's dead and should be thrown away. If they don't open when they are steamed it also means they were already dead. I was nervous that I would somehow kill all my clams and mussels before dinner and that none of them would open when cooked and I would have to throw everything away. But as I lifted the lid and saw the last few crack open I thought, "Yay my clams and mussels aren't dead! ..Well I guess now they are. But they opened! Yayy!" It's pretty fun to watch them pop open. At least for me, I don't know what you do for fun. Anyway, it's really such an easy and relatively affordable dish that ends up looking and tasting pretty fancy. Here's how I made mine :)



Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguine, cooked al dente
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cups beer
  • 8 ounces clam juice
  • 1/2 pound mussels
  • 15 clams
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

  1. Rinse the shellfish and scrub off any sand. Debeard the mussels (This means removing the little seaweed-like stringy things coming out from between their shells). Make sure all the shellfish are closed tightly. If they are not, give them a little tap on a table. If they don't close up, discard them. 
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened. 
  3. Add the beer, clam juice, and half of the parsley to the pan. 
  4. Place the clams and mussels in the liquid and cover. Let them cook for about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the opened shellfish and set aside. Discard any that didn't open. 
  5. Add the butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the liquid. Let this simmer for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the shellfish back in along with the cooked pasta. Add the olive oil and the rest of the parsley. Gently combine everything and enjoy with a glass of beer. It's also good with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Celery Root Soup


I've been wanting to make something with celery root ever since I had celery root mashed potatoes at a Brooklyn beer dinner a while back. I had never tried it before and I loved the unique flavor it gave the potatoes. So I finally got around to buying my own. They are said to resemble a mix of celery and parsley in flavor. You just cut off all the ugly outside part with a knife and then you can boil it like a potato.

I was thinking of using my celeriac in the mashed potatoes that went with the beef brisket at my beer dinner, but I was warned that some people have an aversion to the taste of celery. Instead, I used it to make myself a yummy creamy soup for lunch. I made the soup with some White Rascal that was left over from the beer dinner and also used the beer as a pairing. I was pretty excited when I tasted the two together. It was such a nice match of flavors. I was a little sad that no one was around to experience the pairing with me, but at least I got to eat all of it.

Well, I had actually written down the recipe for this. But it's gone. I can't find it anywhere. So all you get is the picture :( But I'm pretty sure there was butter, milk, celery root, parsley, onion, celery, and garlic involved. I don't know, all the things you might expect :) If I find the recipe I'll update.

Beer Dinner #2


I had a little beer dinner at my house last Saturday night. Anyone who knows me knows I love beer dinners. Going to them is what really got me into beer and food. I think they are a perfect way for people who may otherwise not try some beers to get into them. They showcase what beer and food can do together and how beer can make a meal special.

Quoting Garrett Oliver in The Brewmaster's Table, "And this is what real beer can do: it can make every single decent meal that you have an interesting and memorable flavor experience. It can be something that will light up your senses and make you actually want to pay attention to what's happening on your palate. Paying that little bit of attention, both to your food and to your beer, is the difference between having an 'OK' culinary life and having one filled with boundless riches of flavor. Learn a little bit about the amazing variety and complexity of flavor that traditional beer brings to the table and in return I promise you a better life." See? Doesn't that sound awesome?

So I planned for five courses all paired with beer and invited some people over. This is the second beer dinner I've put on for friends where I cooked all the courses. I ended up repeating a few of the dishes from the last one I did since it was all different guests. I think everything ended up pretty successful. Here's a little summary of the courses along with some snapshots.


1. I chose my coconut shrimp and scallops dish for the first course. Shrimp and scallops cooked in coconut milk and beer on some toasty bread with some mango papaya salad. This dish was the first post ever on my blog (which I just realized was almost exactly a year ago). And it's still always a hit. I used White Rascal for the sauce and the pairing. Good example of what beer can add to a dish as an ingredient. It just wouldn't be the same without it. The witbier works really well with the coconut milk, mango salad, and seafood.


2. The second course was ceviche. Because I just didn't want to have a dinner without it. So good. I was considering doing my tuna tartare with a stout reduction instead but couldn't commit to not making a Peruvian ceviche for everyone. Definitely next time. So we tried it with Stone IPA and Victory Helios because we wanted to see how each would complement the dish. I always love IPAs with ceviche but it was nice that Helios provided something bright and kind of funky to go with the acidity in the dish.


3. The third course was a newer one. My homemade gnocchi with a dubbel mushroom sauce. I was a little scared to prepare this for the dinner since one of the dinner guests has Italian parents who prepare amazing gnocchi for her all the time. But she approved and said they were just right :) I used Ommegang Abbey for the sauce and paired it with Korbinian. The only change I made, which I think is an awesome one, was to add crispy sage leaves. I fried them up in a little oil so they get all crispy and shimmery and pretty and delicious and then put one on top of each serving. If you can't tell, crispy sage leaves are my new obsession. They taste so good, even by themselves. I can't stop snacking on them. They were perfect with the rich mushroomy sauce and they went great with the dopplebock pairing.


4. The main course was Old Chub braised beef brisket and some mashed potatoes. I cooked the brisket for a few hours in Old Chub and a bunch of other yummy stuff. Old Chub, a scotch ale, is perfect for slow cooking meat with its flavors of caramel and smoked malt. Super rich and tasty dish. And once the meat is all melded with the flavors of the beer, the pairing becomes perfect.  I was almost going to go with a lamb chop dish for the entree but I figured this would get me more bang for my buck. Although people didn't need too much food at this point. Everyone was starting to get full. 


5. But there's still room for dessert! Or, in this case, breakfast. French toast with strawberry syrup paired with Wake-n-Bake from Terrapin. I used Challah bread and cooked up some strawberries with maple syrup. Coffee stout with french toast. What more could you want? This is a picture of some I had the next morning with a little bacon on the side. The bacon was not included in the dinner :P


So thanks so much to those of you who came. I hope you had a good time and enjoyed everything. I had a lot of fun cooking for you guys :) ♥

Can't wait for the next one!