Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paper Chef 50th Anniversary! Riccota stuffed honey gruit pork chops!

One of the reasons I started blogging was the ability to share new kinds of beers with people. This challenge has given me a great opportinity to do just that! This months paper chef is being presided over by Kathy at Prospect: The Pantry. The ingredients she selected are Honey, Dill, Ricotta, Eggs and a theme of rejuvenation, celebrating the equinox and the change of seasons. An interesting blend, and one that could lend itself easily to a sweet dish. However here at the Brew-B-Que, we need 2 more ingredients... Brew and BBQ! 

Fortunatly I happen to have some home brew that fits the bill perfectly! I have an excursion into the medieval periods, back before hops. Back to the days of an beverage called Gruit ale. Gruit was a beer that was brewed using herbs other than hops for bitterness. This was especially popular in Scotland and Ireland where they resisted using hops until the late 1600's. I wanted to brew a beer that would give me an idea of what a traditional Irish ale would be like between 1100-1200 AD. Using a book called Sacred Herbal and Healing Beers by Stephen Harrod Buhner. This gave me several good ideas for a recipe, although I was not able to find one of the herbs used historically in a gruit, bog myrtle, or sweet gale. The recipe I used was rather close however. Here it is:

3 Lbs light liquid malt extract, 
3 lbs wildflower honey
2 oz Mugwort
1 oz yarrow.

This yeilded a light, hazy, lightly carbonated, dry citrusy ale that is very refreshing. People are always amazed that there is no lemon in this at all. No lemon peel or anything. It is all the magic of natures herbs. I like to think this is exactly the sort of beverage that heralds and celebrates the arrival of spring. Its like liquid sun... and it makes a great base for a marinade!

(you knew that's where this was going didn't you?)

So lets take a look at the marinade ingredients!

1 bottle of homebrewed gruit ale
1/4 cup worshtershire sauce
2 tbs fresh dill
2 tbs honey
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp old bay
2 springs of fresh Rosemary
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
5 fresh pork chops

Place the porkchops in the marinade and let them go at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. 

During this time I made the ricotta stuffing consisting of the following.

1 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
1/4 cup dill
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Remove the pork chops, pat dry and use your chefs knife to make an incision about 3/4 of the way through the pork chop. Fill with the ricotta cheese and then cover the opening with a nice strip of thick bacon to seal everything in and pin shut with toothpicks. 

Grill these over a slow heat for about 15 mintues per side, turning them carefully to keep the filling intact. I boiled the marinade and added a bit more honey to create a mop sauce to keep them nice and moist while cooking.

I took the rest of the ricotta filling and cooked it over a double boiler to add a sauce and get more creamy cheesy goodness on the plate. Here is the result:

I'm not the best photographer I know, but I did at least get a decent camera instead of my phone like last time! I'm sure I'll get better as time goes on! 

I was very pleased with the results. The pork was juicy and flavorful with a touch of sweetness that was almost pinappley (is that word?) The bacon gave it a great salty balance to the creamyness of the filling. I would make this again!

I want to thank all involved with paper chef for inspiring me to use food, beer, and my bbq in new and unique ways!

Till next time, 
Cheers and Happy Eating!