Pulled Pork Quesadillas!

IMG_2811That’s right, pulled pork quesadillas!

Whoa there vegetarian types! Don’t dash off just yet, we can get around this pig related dilemma, stick with it. Although clearly this dish has meat in it, you can replace it, or just leave it out as you wish.

This recipe isn’t rocket science, but I had it yesterday and just thought “wow, this would be great beer food”, and some folks “may” not have tried quesadillas.

So, clearly my creation requires pulled pork right, but I’m not going to go all in-depth on how to make that or we’d be here all day. But what I will say is that for this recipe it needs to be pretty dry so if yours isn’t, maybe drain it off, or cook it down so it has no real sauce to speak of for this recipe.

In brief, for my pulled pork, I used a large leg joint of “pork” (obviously), although generally shoulder is better.

There’s no magic spicy rub mix required here as I wanted to go a bit less smokey barbecue and more with the apple thing. I just sealed the meat by frying it off with a spray of oil in a deep sided roasting pan to sear all sides, paying extra attention to the skin side to help get all that flavoursome fat rendering down right away. Remove the meat and set aside.

Peel, core and roughly chop two decent sized apples and one large onion, fry them off a little too in the same pan. Place the pork on top. Add a decent bottle of apple cider, a sprinkle of dried sage, thyme, rosemary, salt, ground black pepper, a heaped desert spoon of dark brown sugar and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Tightly cover with foil and slow cook for about 4-5 hours.

Remove the pork from the pan and try to take off as much fat as possible, then shred the meat roughly and mix in with the remaining sauce back in the roasting pan mashing the apple and onion mix as you do to thicken. Add a good splash of Calvados or Bourbon to taste. Cover again with foil and return to the oven for a few more hours if possible, basically cook on until there is as much sauce left as you personally prefer. Easy!

If like me though, when you choose that joint of pork, your eyes are much bigger than your belly (a tough act in itself), inevitably you will have loads of delicious meat left over which is where this recipe comes in.

Making these is really easy, the key is to chop everything finely so that the filling binds and those flavours really blend together. It’s really all very slapdash too, so don’t take my measurements as gospel, add or remove things to taste, use leftovers, increase or decrease ingredients as your fridge/larder dictates, it’s all good…

Right, to work. Take a large mixing bowl. Into that, finely chop a handful of spring onions, four or five mushrooms, a fresh chilli or to taste (I used half a Scotch Bonnet which was really zingy, it was just enough) and a roughly chopped fistful of coriander, (I actually used the frozen pre-chopped stuff this time and it worked really well). Grab a heap of the leftover pork and chop/mince with a chefs knife to basically make it less stringy, throw that in too. Season with a little black pepper. Finally, grate in a good hunk of mature cheddar or similar, basically you want a good cheese to additions ratio.. I know, I’m just TOO precise..

Mix all the ingredients together gently, use a spoon and not your fingers, take it steady or else it just all goes into a massive gooey clump!

Take three large tortilla wraps and lay them on a work surface, spread the mixture evenly between them all to take the dry mixture to about 1 cm from the edge. Lay another wrap over the top of each and give them a firm press down.

IMG_2809Pile them on a plate and tightly cover with clingfilm and stick them in the fridge till you are ready to cook. (You can always cook immediately of course)

Using a dry frying pan on a medium heat, cook the quesadillas for about one and a half to two minutes each side, turning as required.

IMG_2807You are aiming for a piping hot melted centre and a nice crispy outer, so try to get the cheese melted a little before the first turn. I suppose you could oven cook or worse, microwave, but I’d definitely recommend sticking with the dry pan option for best results.

IMG_2810IMG_2811Slice like pizza into bite size portions and serve on a warm plate with sour cream and guacamole. It is DELICIOUS!

Beer wise, I’d go with something like a crisp Kölsch, or perhaps a really light hoppy IPA, you could even go mad and sort of mix the two with one of those new fangled India Pale Lagers.

Hope you enjoy whatever you choose.




Well there it was, gone!

Yes Christmas is well and truly over and hopefully the last of those generally awful generic Christmas beers should at last be jingle belling their jolly way off your locals hand-pulls, making way for something thing new. For most of us it will still be dark and strong winter ales with a smidgin of hoppy pales breaking up through the gloom, fighting for light like maples in a forest dominated by mighty oaks. (Neil Peart eat your heart out)

Time then I thought, to give your taste buds a run out in the form of another hashtag tasting session, this time exploring the much under rated Barley Wine. Still a winter ale some might say, but I’d disagree and say it’s an any season beer if the mood takes you.

Down-Deeperer-300x300I think barley wines get a bit of a rough ride with lots of drinkers. People are unfamiliar with them apart from the obligatory can of Gold Label that sits forlorn at the bottom of many a bars fridge and I think the high ABV scares them too, generally sitting upwards of 10% in a lot of cases. I thought the same I have to admit, until a couple of years ago when I started to explore beer more and I think that perhaps was because the only British beers I’d tried that were anywhere near that strength were like drinking Castrol GTX.

Like the British/World beer scene though I’ve moved on, higher strength beers are featuring more and more especially in the more forward thinking bars (refuses to use the c word) and whilst I treat them with respect, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at trying a new Paradox at 15% or so in somewhere like Brewdog for example.

9781862059146 copyAs a bit of a style introduction, I’m going to use a quote from Melissa Cole’sLet Me Tell You About Beer” and although as you’ll read, it doesn’t go into detail at this stage on what they (barley wines and Scotch ales), actually are like (she does later in the chapter), I think it speaks volumes about what to expect and how to treat them…

“If beer styles were people, then barley wines and Scotch ales would be someone like George Clooney: respected by men and loved by women, growing old gracefully, with an air of sophistication, but retaining a puckish charm that could get you into trouble but convincing you to jump on a jet to Vegas instead of going home for dinner”.

So to the uninitiated, a little more.

Usually malty sweet, but with any decent example, always with a glorious complexity of tastes that should stop them being cloying. Expect caramel, treacle toffee, oranges, marmalade, bitter chocolate, rich boozy liqueured orchard and vine fruits in varying combinations, with quite often a surprising amount of spritzy bitter hops bursting through to finely balance the heady malts in this delightfully warming elixir..

Think of a cold dark night, you are sitting in a high-backed winged leather arm-chair in a dimly lit room, the flickering glow of a roaring log fire warms your face and sets shadows dancing on the walls around you.

Sit back, relax and savour the flavour of a luxuriously sumptuous barley wine.

Date to be confirmed for hash-tag #BarleyCon13 as I’m working on a few ideas that hopefully will up the stakes a little, but I’m thinking late Feb to early March which gives you lot plenty of time to find some interesting examples. I’ll list a few suggestions in a few days.

Oh and did I mention that a barley wine was CAMRA’s Champion Beer of the year in 2012? No, well watch this space on that front as I may have some interesting news….


(Down Deeperer image courtesy of CAMRGB who also designed the rather spiffing label, check out his review of the beer here.)

SupSaison wrap up

Wow time has flown, the #SupSaison weekend is almost a week old and I still haven’t posted a wrap up. I haven’t posted at all to be honest I’ve had a crazy few weeks with work and after long hard days I just couldn’t face another few hours tapping away at a laptop, so, I’m sorry…

I know the guys at the venues I mentioned last week had a real blast and I thank them and everyone else who joined in, wherever you may be, most sincerely.

At “Chez Hardy” I hosted a tasting night that lasted quite a bit longer than normal, it lasted way after midnight as it happened and well past Saisons too as it goes.

I opted for a mix of various styles, traditional well-tested standards, international attempts at mirroring the style, home-brew, flavoured, hybrid variations using saison yeasts and an Imperial. The results were quite surprising as none of the real favourites voted for were what I’d consider bang on typical style with most having a twist of some description in the mix. I’ve added a full list further below which includes descriptions not of my writing, this info gleaned from brewery websites etc and presented as a formal beer list to guests on the night. (Glamorous eh?)

We had seven tasters all of varying experience and all with slightly different personal tastes in beers and styles, each had two votes each and this is what came out as a top 5

  1. Red Willow – Faithless XIV Gin and Tonic Saison (Macclesfield) 4 Votes
  2. Baird Brewing Saison Sayuri (Japan) (Equal first place) 4 Votes
  3. Brasserie de Silly – Saison (Silly – Belgium) 3 Votes
  4. Belgoo – Saisonneke (Brasserie La Binchoise, Binche, Belgium) 2 Votes
  5. Green Flash – Saison Diego (San Diego – California) 1 Vote

So there you have it, the top two most enjoyed Saison beers of the night came from Japan and Macclesfield, who’d have thought it..

The night didn’t end there though, as because we were in such good company, I decided to open my long overdue bottle of Roosters Baby Faced Assassin, closely followed by a bottle of Stone Double Bastard. Thankfully as this was after midnight and SupSaison had unofficially closed the top five remained as they were otherwise the Roosters would have swept the board, it was absolutely stunning even though it was a year old.

We had a blast on the night, I hope you did too. I’ve already had requests to get another started, with suggestions of either Barley Wines or Lambics as the featuring beer style, what do you think, it’s of course open to further suggestion/debate??


Note: There were no real tasting notes taken as this was supposed to form part of the wider twitter tasting event and therefore any comments made would have been live on the night, but here is the beer list:

Order of beer service ~

Traditional Belgian/French styles

St-Feuillien – Saison (LE ROEULX – BELGIUM)

St-Feuillien’Saison is what the Belgians call a beer of the terroir,
A traditional farmhouse ale with all the rich savour of the fertile land of southern Belgium. Saison, a warm golden blonde ale, is a top-fermented classique. Thanks to secondary fermentation in the bottle, Saison has an unmistakable flavour full of rich nuances and a slight tang.

Belgoo – Saisonneke (Brasserie La Binchoise, Binche, Belgium)

Dry hopped Saison, A really refreshing flowery hoppy beer with not that too much of bitterness going on. The hops are really more of a kind of flowery-fruity-citric aromas.

Brasserie La Chouffe – La Chouffe (Ardennes – Belgium)

LA CHOUFFE is an unfiltered blonde saison beer, which is re-fermented in the bottle as well as in the keg.  It is pleasantly fruity, spiced with coriander, and with a light hop taste.

Brasserie de Silly – Saison (Silly – Belgium)

Its taste is remarkable, light and favourably combined to offer a tone that is both modestly sweetened and fruity, leaving the mouth with a refreshing feel as is constantly asked of it.

 Brasserie Fantôme Saison (Soy-Erezée, Belgium)

This is a tremendously delicious, textural, and fizzy county ale, bright gold colour, citric and sour, reminiscent of a good champagne or lambic but in a class all its own.

Fantôme – Golden ale, 8% alc. by volume, with a wonderfully musty and characterful aroma. There are many drinkers out there who believe this is the “Nectar of the Gods.” Certainly no other brewer makes beer like this, in Belgium or anywhere. How many beers of 8% plus offer such fresh fruitiness? A solid Belgian saison beer at its base, with an unusual overlay of fruitiness.

International Efforts

 Green Flash – Saison Diego (San Diego – California)

Unfiltered golden farmhouse ale, brewed with Seville orange peels, Chinese ginger and grains of paradise. Light, bright, spicy aromas, lively carbonation and earthy flavors co-mingle with musty notes that add funky complexity.

Baird Brewing Saison Sayuri (Japan)

A fascinating mixture of down-to-earth simplicity and understated complexity. Brewed entirely with pale base malts and Japanese candy sugar (except for a hint of roasted barely for color contribution), Saison Sayuri is relatively light in body and sprite in flavor. The nose is an immensely complex amalgam of aromas – bubble gum-like phenolics from the Belgian yeast, floral and fruity notes
from dry hopping, and a subtle hint of citrus and spice from the addition
of Japanese daidai peels (daidai is a very sour type of Japanese orange). A splash of sour daidai juice also was added to the wort which manifests itself in a stealthily citric-sour finish.

Leeds Brew – Saison de la Maison  (Neil Gardner – Leeds)

Very classic, dry Saison, medium bodied with fruity yeast and peppery phenols dominating.

A massive thanks to Neil from LeedsBrew for sending me this at his own expense (I owe you one). It was not at all out on it’s own and I’d guess with some certainty that if I hadn’t said it was home brewed, nobody would have known.

Flavoured and style variations

Red Willow – Faithless XIV Gin and Tonic Saison (Macclesfield)

This isn’t just a Saison with a splash of Gordon’s and a glug of Schwepps added to it. The G&T flavours are provided by use of juniper and lemongrass respectively.

Flying Dog – In de Wildeman Farmhouse IPA

Brewed for Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman’s 25th Anniversary. This brand new brew is an unfiltered American IPA hopped with Citra and fermented with Saison yeast.

 The Bruery – Saison Rue

Saison Rue is a unfiltered Belgian/French style farmhouse ale. This is a beer of subtlety and complexity, with malted rye, spicy, fruity yeast, biscuit-like malt backbone and a slight citrus hop character.

Cigar City – Guava Grove

One of Tampa’s nicknames in addition to the CigarCity is the Big Guava. It earned the moniker from local newspaper columnist Steve Otto in the 1970’s. The nickname eventually gave rise to one of YborCity’s most popular annual events, Guavaween. We brew Guava Grove in tribute to Tampa’s fruity nickname. Guava Grove is brewed with a French strain of Saison yeast and sees a secondary fermentation on pink guava puree. Slightly tart with a dry finish this is a refined beer that is perfect for sharing. Pairs well with a wide variety of cheeses, seafood and light fruit salads.

 Brasserie Fantôme – Pissenlit

Dany, the offbeat brewer at Fantôme, will try anything, and the results are always interesting. A beer made from dandelions would be worth a try if only because no one has ever brewed one before, but the great news is that this is actually a very good beer.
Dany and some cohorts get busy every spring picking bushels of dandelions that grow in the fields around the picturesque farmhouse brewery. The yellow flowers are removed and dried in the sun, then soaked in water for a few days. The thick, dark dandelion “tea” that results is the basis for the Pissenlit, which is made also from traditional barley malt and hops. It resembles a classic saison beer – golden spritzy brew, strong and very flavorful, with a good hop bite. You may have to strain to taste the dandelions, but you know they’re in there.
It should be noted that uncooked, the dandelion has a diuretic effect and is known in France as Pissenlit (literally, “wet the bed” – this also happens to be the British folk-name) for precisely this reason.

Imperial Saison

Marble – Special Imperial Saison (Marble & Dark Star colab, brewed in Manchester)

Imperial Saison brewed in partnership with DarkStar. Classic spicy yeast notes with with a warming alcohol kick.