Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saint Archer Blonde Ale

As a beer fanatic I always try to seek out locally made beer when I hit the market.  A couple of weeks ago I ran across Saint Archer in Sprouts and picked up their IPA.  I was glad that I did, this San Diego brewery is fairly new, but they have nailed it on quality and taste.

Saint Archer is a small brewery located in the Miramar area of San Diego and is made up of brewers, musicians, skateboarders, and surfers that have all come together to make great beer.  Besides being a great beer, some of the collaborators are guys that I looked up to growing up in skateboarding, so it is awesome to once again identify with something that these guys are putting together.

They have started with three releases, an IPA, a Pale Ale, and a Blonde Ale.  As of today I have tried and loved all three.  To me the best thing about these brews is they are all true to the name that they carry without over doing or watering down the flavor.

While I tend to gravitate toward IPAs, this Blonde Ale is fantastic.  When I opened the bottle I could smell the difference in the beer.  They are using Noble Hops from Germany to brew this Kolsch style beer, and they have nailed it.  It is reminiscent of a German Pilsner, with the taste and aroma to match.

If you haven't had it, get it, and you will not be disappointed.  Now I just have to find my way over to the tasting room to see what else these guys have going on in the brewery.    

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ich Liebe Döner Kebab

Once upon a time, in a far away land a young soldier and his hot wife walked the streets of Mannheim, Germany sampling every candy, bread, and meat stand that we came across not knowing what an amazing treat we were about to stumble across.  The Doner Kebab, in America we call it a Gyro, but it is essentially the same thing.  Depending on the location, it could be lamb, a combination of lamb, beef, and veal, or unfortunately ground meat (yuck).

Walking into a real Doner shop there are huge cone shape vertical spits rotating in front of a heating element to cook the meat.  The meat magician would walk over and hand shave off the perfect amount of meat to fill a pita bread with this masterful concoction of meat.  He then coated it in salad and a doner sauce (cucumber yogurt sauce) that would drizzle down your arm as you walked along munching away on this fabulous treat.

So last night as I was packing up the leftover leg of lamb I knew there was only one thing to do, make some doner kebabs for dinner tonight!  It took everything in me to concentrate on the tasks at hand today at work in anticipation of making these for dinner.

I know what you are thinking, its a sandwich, get over it, well it isn't just a sandwich, it is a thousand memories of late night visits to the Doner shop in Worms while on patrol, walking the market in Mannheim, visits to the German version of a Walmart, and so on... Its the little things in life.

Enough reminiscing, I pulled out the meat slicer when I got home and did a couple of different thicknesses to test what would work best for these tasty treats.  Once I sliced all of the meat I cut up some tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and pita bread.  I preheated my cast iron pan and tossed in the meat to heat it up a bit before stacking it.

Once I had all of the components ready I stacked meat, veggies, meat, cheese, and sauce between two slices of pita bread and plated them up for dinner.  Absolutely unreal, fantastic!

And is if that wasn't enough I cracked open a Saint Archer Pale Ale tonight and it was definitely a great compliment to this meal.  This is a true SOCAL Pale Ale that would be a great beer for any afternoon barbecue.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wood Fired Bone-in Leg of lamb

While shopping for my Christmas dinner Pork Rib Roast I came across an amazing leg of lamb that brought a little tear of joy to my meat loving eye.  So naturally I bought it knowing I would cook it up this weekend.

So yesterday I took it out of its cryovac packaging and trimmed it up removing some tendons and excess fat from the lamb.  I patted it dry with paper towels and placed it in a container back on the fridge over night to save myself some time today.  This morning I poured about a 1/4 cup of lemon juice over the leg of lamb, covered it, and placed it back in the fridge for an hour.

After my workout this morning I pulled the lamb out of the fridge, poured off the excess lemon juice, rubbed it in olive oil, and added a rub of tarragon, rosemary, garlic, thyme, and mustard powder to the meat rubbing it into all of the crevices.

I put the meat back in the fridge to set until I was ready to fire up the grill.  We wanted to do an early dinner today so I started my fire at 2pm to allow for the coals and almond wood to get to a constant temperature before I added the meat.  Since I am doing this all in the main compartment of the charcoal side of the grill I set up the wood and coals on the side next to the fire box so that I had an indirect cooking area.

I intended to place the drip pan for the juices in the bottom of the grill next to the coals, but the fire was too hot for that to work, so I placed the drip pan on the main cooking surface and placed the lamb on the upper rack above the pan.  I was able to get a fair amount of smoke rolling, in the hopes that I would impart some smoke into the lamb while it was cooking.  I started cooking at 400 degrees.

I checked the internal temperature of the lamb after the first hour and it was 87 degrees.  I closed the lid and let the meat continue to cook for another hour.  At the end of the second hour the internal temp was right at 142 degrees so I pulled the meat from the grill.  I set it on a cutting board loosely covered in foil while I finished up the side dishes.

For my sides I made smashed new potatoes and garlic paprika asparagus with a piece of garlic cheese bread.  I also used the drippings from the lamb to make red wine sauce to drizzle over the meat and potatoes.  For the smashed potatoes I placed the whole boiled potatoes in a bowl with 1/4 cup of unsalted butter with salt and pepper and smashed them with a fork until they were blended together. AMAZING!

I wanted center cut pieces for dinner tonight, so I cut three 1/4 inch slices to share between the two of us for dinner tonight.  The rest will be thinly sliced for doner kebabs tomorrow night for dinner.

Needless to say, the lamb soaked up the smoke from the almond wood like a sponge, and the medium rare center cut portion was like meat butter with a hint of smokiness.  We both cleared our plates and if it wasn't for the fact that we were stuffed, I would have gone back for seconds!

If you have ever walked by a leg of lamb in the store and wondered if you could do it, you can, and it will be amazing.