Or, let’s do another post about food!
I tried making candied bacon last weekend, for the first time. A discussion over beer became a food inspiration, which became an attempt at something that I knew from the outset would probably be harder than it sounded, but it seemed worth the risk.
Of course, I wasn’t just going to candy the bacon with sugar and spices. No, I had to get beer involved. And the first beer than came to my mind when thinking of something robust enough, sweet enough, yet bitter enough to do well with sugar and bacon was Yeastie Boy’s ‘Pot Kettle Black’.
Right from mixing some of this rich dark ‘American Style Porter’ (i.e., hoppy) with the sugar I knew the flavour combination could work wonders. There’s an aroma of orange and chocolate from this beer that makes me smile every time I pour a glass, and the addition of more sugar gave the smell even more of that “orange chocolate cake” sensation I always detect in hoppy porters / black IPAs. I wanted a tiny bit of a kick so I added a dash of a scotch bonnet sauce, mixed it all together, then brushed it onto some streaky bacon that had already spent 10 minutes in the oven.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. The aroma that emerged from the oven every time I opened the door to turn the bacon was amazing, but I could soon tell that I’d got something wrong in the technique or equipment area – probably should’ve used a wire rack instead of a slotted roasting tray. Too much of the bacon ended up burnt, the sugar and beer accelerating the caramelisation with the fat, rapidly creating crispy burnt edges on most of the rashers.
Still, what wasn’t burnt was pretty damn delicious. So, I’m going to have a bit of a think about this, and try it again one day. And there’s other beers I can imagine would go well flavour-wise with bacon…
Pot Kettle Black is “a real foodies” beer, as the Yeasties say on their website. It’s great with food, and in food. The bitter-sweet, orange chocolate cake flavours go great in not only sweet foods, but also savoury.
And, so, I was considering my bacon failure, sipping on the ale while I did so, making some final prep for the meal I was also working on that afternoon. Inspired, as I’ve always been by the interplay between bright citrusy hops and the rich, black, sweet-and-dark malt of the PKB. It was an easy decision to make – I screwed the top back on the bottle of red wine I’d opened, and instead dumped the glass of Pot Kettle Black into the venison and mushroom stew I was preparing.
I may’ve missed out on the rest of that glass of beer, but the effect in the stew was well worth it. Where a red wine adds a tannic tang and a bit of off-sweet vinegar-ish flavour to this combination of meat and vegetables, the Pot Kettle Black added a full, rich earthiness, solid and robust.
The malt flavour carried all the way through to tonight’s meal, where I managed to eat two servings worth in one sitting. I blame the cold. As is usually the case with such dishes, spending a few days in the fridge had just intensified the flavours, and the play between the dark malt of the beer, the chewy earthiness of the mushrooms and the melt-in-the-mouth umami of the venison was perfect. There was a little touch of fruity sweetness from the hops hanging around the edges of each mouthful too, adding a delicious little contrast.
I’ve cooked with Pot Kettle Black a few times now, sweets and savouries both. Never let me down. A beer I love to drink, and too cook with. One of my favourites.
Yes, I’ve got a lot of favourite beers!