With the rise of the craft beer industry we’ve also seen the rise of the beer dinner. Like food and wine pairing before it; food and beer pairing is now taking its own place in the culinary world. For my first food and beer pairing I decided to go for something a little out there. I attended a beer dinner at the Happy Gnome restaurant awhile back and the brewery hosting the dinner was Left Hand Brewing. I knew of their Nitro Stout but otherwise hadn’t had many of their beers. For one of the courses Left Hand brought out a beer called Good JuJu. Good JuJu is a light beer brewed with Ginger. Now this wasn’t the type of beer I’d want to drink pint after pint of in one night, but I was really impressed how the ginger in the beer paired with the food at the dinner. A couple months after the beer dinner I found Good JuJu for sale at a Whole Foods in Chicago (couldn’t find it anywhere in Minnesota). Since I hadn’t every found a good reason to drink it on its own I decided Good JuJu would be my first Food and Beer Pairing.
Good JuJu Stats | ABV: 4.5% | IBU: 20 | SRM: 10 (Golden)
Good JuJu was an interesting beer to try and pair with food. Lighter beers tend to pail with lighter foods, typically grains that compliment the beers malty flavor. Good JuJu is a little different thought in that the beer has a strong ginger flavor (the ginger is not just an accent in this beer). On Left Hand Brewing’s website they recommend pairing with Pad Thai or Ginger Cookies. I liked the idea of pairing with a food that had some spice but also had some bready flavor. Lastly I envisioned something sweet as well which I think compliments ginger.
I decided to with an Apple, Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Using a whole grain bread I would get the grain flavors to compliment the light body of the beer. Putting pepper jelly on the sandwich would give it some spice and the apple would add the sweetness I was looking for. I’m a lover of grilled cheese sandwiches so I was really excited about this pairing. This recipe did not disappoint; maybe the best grilled cheese I’ve made to date. My only regret was that the cheese I used was a little strong on the flavor. I think a milder cheese such as provolone would match this particular beer better.
Apple, Onion, Grilled Cheese
Red Onion (1) – Sliced thin
Apple (1) – Sliced thin
Bread (8 Slices) – Any kind will do; I used a walnut cranberry bread (savory, not sweet)
Gruyere Cheese (4 oz) – Grated; Replace both cheeses w/ provolone to lighten flavor
White Cheddar Cheese (4 oz) – Grated
Parmesan Grated (4 oz) – chop until cheese is in very fine flakes
1 – Put onion and apples with a little olive oil in a skillet. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the apple and onion are both soft and starting to brown.
2 – Butter one side of each slice of bread. Apply a thin layer of parmesan cheese to the buttered side of the bread. Pat the cheese down so it sticks to the butter. Shake the bread slightly to remove any loose cheese from the bread.
3 – Assemble the sandwich. Apply a layer of pepper jelly to one slice of bread (side without the butter). Then apply the apple onion mixture and 1 oz of gruyere and 1 oz of cheddar. Place the remaining slice of bread on top. Make sure the buttered sides of the bread are facing outward on the sandwich.
4 – Cook in a Panini press (my personal choice) or on a skillet with medium-low heat. Cook until the cheese on the inside of the sandwich is melted and the parmesan on the outside of the sandwich has cooked into a cheesy crust.
Inspiration for the recipe: https://www.cabotcheese.coop/grace-potters-grilled-cheese-with-apple-onion-and-pepper-jelly
Used this article to help make my cheese selection: http://www.marthastewart.com/1099206/best-cheeses-melting
Left Hand Brewing – Good JuJu: http://lefthandbrewing.com/beers/good-juju/