This recipe, as with my previous pancake post, was nudged--nay--pushed along by a recent class on cooking with beer taught by Sean Paxton. The idea had been stewing for a while, largely thanks to the quantity of time I seem to spend at Boom Island Brewing Company during their sample room hours. It is hard not to get excited about food and beer when you can talk directly to the people whose passion creates that lovely beverage in hand. Using beer in lieu of wine for a reduction had come up many a time during these visits to the brewery.
This recipe is sort of a trial run for a future dinner. I have grandiose plans for this sauce. Tonight, it was served over dredged and seared boneless chicken thighs. But mark my words...as soon as I have the time to head to one of our nicer meat markets or co-ops, duck breast will be featured prominently.
The beer of choice for the reduction was Boom Island's Hoodoo. To date, they do not distribute outside of Minnesota. But do not despair...several great Belgian dubbels are available through out the country. Chimay Premiere, Westmalle Trappist Dubbel, Goose Island Pere Jacques and Ommengang Abbey Ale are all excellent brews to try this with.
To bring out a bit more of the dark fruit sweetness, and cut an potential bittering from the cooking process, I opted to saute up the shallots with an equal amount of dried fig. The thought had crossed my mind to soak the figs first in some of the dubbel...or perhaps even bourbon. But baby steps, baby steps.
The sauce is my no means sweet, so much as rich. I was initially surprised by the amount of unami in the sauce as I sampled though out. I am really looking forward to playing around with this reduction again.
the recipe is my own
yields enough sauce for about 4 entrees
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
4-6 small dried figs, finely diced (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup beef stock
2/3 cup Belgian dubbel
3 Tbsp butter, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, minced
salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, or the skillet used to sear your protein, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and figs and saute until the shallots are translucent and beginning to caramelize.
Splash a little of the beef stock into the pan and deglaze. Add the remaining stock and the beer to the pan. Raise the heat to medium high and simmer the mixture until reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
At this point for a smoother, thinner sauce, strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Return the liquid to the pan and discard the shallots and figs.
For a thicker, richer sauce, puree a portion of the mixture with an immersion blender and return to the saucepan.
Add the butter and thyme, stirring until the butter has melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over protein of your choice.