The days keep staying frosty. Seems it’s the best time in the year to invite some friends for a boozy feast at your home. Liv Fleischhacker took a closer look for MIXOLOGY ONLINE and offers a complete meal to delight your beloved ones. Cheers!
To make things easier on you, the host, bait your guests with plenty of alcohol. But let’s not leave it at gregariously mixed cocktails and icy craft beers. We’re taking this one step further and infuse our foods with alcohol. Since ’tis the season and we’re in the mood for sharing, below you’ll find an elaborate, but easy, festive winter menu for your next shindig.
Whole Roasted Pumpkin stuffed with ‘Fondue’
We start off with Helen Graves’ BBQ pumpkin filled with cheese, beer, and sourdough. If you don’t happen to be in possession of a balcony barbecue, worry not – this beast is at home in an oven as well (220°C until the pumpkin is soft, depending on size anywhere from 45 minutes to 1h30). A monster appetizer if ever there was one, the beer counterbalance all that cheesy, carbloaded goodness. When choosing a beer follow your instinct and go with your personal preference.
A hoppy IPA, the Stone Ruination IPA for example, works well here and would also pair nicely with some blue cheese thrown in the mix. The point of the beer is to cut through the richness, so choose a brew to your liking that has a certain tang to it. Make sure to use good sourdough with a sturdy crust, otherwise the bread will drown in between all the liquid, cheesy, deliciousness. The most dedicated of you would even go so far as to cube the bread a day early, giving it time to crisp.
To lighten things up, serve a green salad on the side. No green salad benefits from alcohol, so let’s keep this one spirit-free. A light vinaigrette of lemon juice, minced garlic, and olive oil will do the trick. Maybe even throw in some ginger to boost that immune system? Simply poured over tender greens (think a mix of baby spinach, romaine and young arugola) this will help balance the heftiness of the cheesy pumpkin and give your stomach some time to breathe.
Pork Brined in Rum and Cider with Apples
The star of the show: pork brined in rum and cider with apples. This is a two day recipe, though the first day only requires you to mix the brine and make sure your pork shoulder is immersed. Brining it with dark rum, juniper berries and apple cider really draws out the unique flavor of the cut and allows the moisture to penetrate deep into the meat. The rum and salt have the added benefit of tenderizing all that beautiful fat and collagen, leaving you with luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bites.
We use dark rum for it’s deep, smoky-sweet taste which is mirrored by the cider and serves to enhance the inherent depth of the pork. Mount Gay Extra Old or Gosling’s Black Seal will get the job done nicely. Apples have long been a winning accompaniment to pork and I’d suggest pairing the two with a bavarian potato salad (no mayo), to truly embrace the slightly acidic flavors of the dish.
Depending on your preference you can cook the pork all the way through or finish the meat with only the barest hint of pink in the middle. Prepare the potato salad one day before serving, around the time you’re already in the kitchen brining the pork and cutting your bread for the above mentioned pumpkin, this way the potatoes, onions, and stock have enough time to really get to know know another and combine their flavors into something explosively beautiful.
Date Cake with Bacon & Pecans – Finished with a Bourbon Chocolate Glaze
The pièce de résistance is the final dish of the night, a date cake with bacon, pecans, and a bourbon glaze. All things christmas-y wrapped up in one one beautiful, gooey, spiced cake. The bourbon used in the glaze truly makes the cake sing, while the bacon provides a deliciously salty contrast. Try using Jim Beam’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon here. Not commonly used in Germany, toasting the pecans might seem like a tedious step, but don’t skip it! After they’ve been warmed the roasted the nuts go from ordinary to smoky, with depths of flavor that go hand-in-hand with the bourbon and leave a pleasantly nutty aftertaste.
Most of these dishes can either be made one day ahead of your feast (potato salad, cake) or have elements to them which can be done ahead of time (cubing the bread, brining the pork) so that on the day of your dinner you’ll only need to keep an eye on the meat in the oven, make sure the cheesy pumpkin doesn’t run over, and dress the greens. Otherwise you’re free to lounge about and entertain the guests. Remember: if you do feel overwhelmed at some point, grab a sip of the nearest bottle. And that, my friends, is the true beauty of using spirits and beer in the kitchen. Happy cooking!
Bildquelle: Scene taken from the film: La Grande Bouffe. Arthaus