Lately, dinner around Juicebox Acres has been an exercise in classy dining with winter season vegetables. Squash, beets, chard, etc, and I have also been very into big, hoppy beers since the weather has turned here in Colorado a couple weeks ago, it's cold and dark outside and some very nice food pairings have been blossoming in my kitchen.Dinner from Monday night: a red chard, bacon and rice goulash (thank you Rachael Ray (she calls it Red Chard and Rice (and she also calls it a side dish, we went main course and put our own spin on it with beer and brown rice))).
Yep, I know goulash is typically a noodle dish but I had no better way to describe this and I didn't like Red Chard and Rice. We fried up five or six slices of bacon that had been cut up into "bits". A few minutes of browning happened and then we threw in some garlic and let that cook up too. Then comes the chard, 1 bunch, stemmed, rough chopped, dropped into the pan. As the chard is carrying on, take this time to spice the whole deal with a little nutmeg, salt, pepper and paprika (of the Hungarian variety (another reason to call it goulash)). Let this cook until the chard has a chance to wilt and heat through. Before starting the bacon we steamed up some brown rice and put it to the side. Now that the chard and bacon and everything is cooked, throw the done rice in, add some chicken stock and a little hoppy beer just to wet everything down and let it simmer for a little while. Once the liquid is all soaked up put it in a bowl that also contains a fork and crack a Fresh Hop IPA. The bursting citrus of the hops in the beer go well with the savory nature of this dish. While not the spiciest dinner (typical IPA pairing is with spicy food), the richness of the bacon and chard use the hop oils to their advantage and the bitterness of the beer compliments the earthy nature of the chard. A major dinner success.
Then we have last nights dinner: butternut and beet soup with a yogurt and cilantro sauce-like-topper.
We took this recipe from food blogger extraordinaire Foy in her regularly updated- Foy Update. I would normally take this time to explain how we cooked the dish but Foy does that task so well I better leave it to her, so follow the link above and take in her wonderful descriptions and pictures. I will, however, take this time to talk about the Ranger IPA pairing that we served with it. This soup is a bit sweet and a bit spicy. The yogurt sauce has Siracha in it and the beet and ginger in the base soup make for a wonderful juxtaposition of toothsome and hot. This two part flavor plays right into the hands of Ranger IPA. The bitterness in match with the citrus and maltiness of this beer offer the fun two parter as well. The hops play with the spice and the malt plays with the sweet. The citrus flavors compliment the ginger and the lingering slickness of the soup is cut through by the dryness of the Ranger. Really, a great pair. You should try it (and you should read the Foy Update more regularly, maybe my favorite food blog).
These hoppy beers and these late harvest veggies are making for a great dinner-time-hours and eating and drinking (at least close) to seasonally is a wonderful challenge. I never thought I liked chard, turns out I do (especially with bacon).