Lamb Chops, Cheesy Broccoli and Rodenbach
Right before the end of bar review season, I received a “care package” of several beers that were impossible to find here in the Philippines. I’d written about one of them, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, a few weeks back. The Weihenstephaner was opened to celebrate finally finishing the bar at the end of October. For the first full meal I prepared after the bar exam, I decided to pop off another beer for pairing. We had lamb chops and broccoli in the fridge, so I decided to just go with a simple, hassle-free preparation – one that would work on a theme of sweet-sour flavors (and I sure don’t mean Chinese pork).
For the lamb chops, I seared them in a screaming hot pan with olive oil for a minute on each side then finished them in the turbo broiler set on thaw. This ensured that the meat would still come out medium raw. I chopped up some red onions and garlic until slightly caramelized, then I deglazed the pan with some balsamic vinegar and water, reduced, and drained. Simple enough, yet quite satisfying.
Simultaneously, I just cooked the broccoli florets by popping it into the toaster oven with a generous drizzle of olive oil. When it was nice and crisp, I just tossed everything with some grated Parmegiano and a dash of lemon juice. This was much less wasteful than shocking the broccoli in water, then bathing it in ice, while at the same time resulting in a much more flavorful end product.
For more starch, we had garlic buttered baguette slices on the side.
For pairing, I opened the bottle of Rodenbach from Palm Brewery in Belgium, the first Flanders Red Ale I’d been able to try. Flanders Red is a Belgian style which is more farmhouse than abbey-inspired. It’s known for being funky and sour, so I had my fingers crossed as I still hadn’t acclimated my palate to sour ales. My experiences with Russian River’s sour ales, such as their Supplication haven’t been the most enjoyable.
Imagine my surprise when I poured the contents of my relatively small 11.2 ounce bottle into my 500ml tulip, appearing a deep reddish brown given the dim lighting. Everything about this beer was just classic Belgian quality. The trademark berry and cherry notes characteristic of Belgian brown abbey ales was there both on the nose and palate. The funkiness was toned down, and as I was glad to find out, so was the sourness. The Rodenbach had a good balance to it that made me question the wild, sour American craft ales I’d tasted. If the hoppy US IPAs are supersized, in terms of intensity of flavor, then maybe their sour ales are as well?
This was an enjoyable beer, and my idea to make the meal a sweet-sour balance with every element from the lamb chops to the broccoli to the beer really paid off in spades. Sour beers aren’t for everone, but the Redenbacher serves as a friendly introduction.