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Saturday, October 5, 2013


Deconstructed German Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon,
Frisee Lettuce & Beer Mustard Vinaigrette.

GUEST RECIPES—FROM WEST COASTER MAGAZINE by Brandon Hernandez--Some food and drink items have such long-standing, intertwined histories, the notion of pairing them equates to a tradition-driven no-brainer. One of those tantalizing and long-tenured combinations is beer and mustard. They’re so synonymous that many varieties of the bitter, spicy, tangy condiment are produced using beer. As we near the brew-centric time of year that is Oktoberfest, the art of making homespun beer mustard seems the perfect subject to tackle.

Incorporating beer into mustard makes an already incredible edible and beverage tandem even more seamless. This is especially true when the beer in your mustard and your stein are one and the same. So, as with many recipes, it’s best to begin by deciding on the type of beer you’re in the mood for, then work your way backward. The style you select will make all the difference in the finished product.

Homemade Beer Mustard
India pale ales and other highly-hopped selections will impart bitterness and, depending on the types of hops in the beer, flavors ranging from botanical to piney to fruity. In general, it’s best for even the most incorrigible hophead to resist the urge to go with something ranging in or anywhere near the 100 international bitterness unit (IBU) mark. Mustard seeds have plenty of bitterness on their own. Adding too much more boosts that flavor beyond the realm of palatability. Also, all those IBUs overshadow any of the other hop flavors a home cook might want to integrate into the condiment. Stick with IPAs that are more British (i.e., maltier) than West Coast in style.

Of course, this being Southern California, WEST COASTER feels compelled to give the IPA and IIPA lovers out there an alternative should they find themselves unable to abstain from using über-hoppy beer in their mustard. The trick is in seed selection. My recipe for beer mustard (see below) uses a one-to-one ratio of yellow mustard seeds to black mustard seeds. The latter, which are sometimes referred to as brown mustard seeds, are spicier than the former. So, if using an IPA, it’s wise to lower the percentage of black seed kick, opting for hop bitterness over mustard bitterness.

In general, malt-driven beers with bready, biscuit-like character tend to work best, bringing in a robustness that complements rather than competes with the mustard seeds’ inherent flavors. Not surprisingly, most of these styles hail from Germany. Märzens, dunkels, schwarzbiers, and bocks both single and doppel sync up well, and so do low-hopped, medium-bodied red ales and brown ales. Even porters and stouts can be used.

When using the darker beers, a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything sweet or chocolaty. Dry stouts work well, bringing in a low roast. Too much roastiness and you can end up with something akin to a cup of coffee. If you’re looking for a flavor accent, it’s better to go with smoke, although, once again, it’s best to go with something with a low smoke factor versus a Rauchbier with a nose like an Alaskan salmon feast. Just a hint will be enough to make things interesting without coming across as overbearing.

The yeast used to ferment the beer you select is also important. Lagers will generally bring in some minerality. Belgian yeast is famous for its fruity esters and flowery nuances. Fruitiness isn’t a flavor one’s generally looking for in a standard mustard, but the esters make Belgian saisons and tripels the beers of choice for cranberry, raspberry or similar fruit-based mustards. When it comes to imitating Dijon style mustard, which is traditionally made using white wine, good choices include kölsch, pilsners and dry saisons.

The recipe provided below is a good base, but feel free to experiment. Once you get a feel for how certain beers come across, you can adjust the ratio of seeds and try out secondary spices. And speaking of experimentation, since everybody knows how to dip a pretzel in mustard or smear some on a bratwurst or burger, included is a recipe for a deconstructed German potato salad featuring smoked salmon in place of bacon, and a vinaigrette that uses the beer mustard as a base. Prost and happy Oktoberfest!

Yield: 2 ½ cups

½ cup black mustard seeds
½ cup yellow mustard seeds
1 cup beer†
¾ cup malt vinegar (consider substituting with cider vinegar in part or completely when using Belgian ales)
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp honey
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp turmeric
Combine the mustard seeds in a bowl and pour in the vinegar and ½ cup of the beer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Pour the remaining beer into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Pour the beer and spice mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Transfer the mustard seeds and their soaking liquid to the processor and blend until the mixture is almost completely pureed (unless you want the mixture to be more homogenous). Use or store, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 2 months.

† The mustard shown in the photo was made using Lightning Ionizer Lager. Other good, readily available beers to experiment with include Ballast Point Longfin Lager and Karl Strauss Oktoberfest

Deconstructed German Potato Salad with Smoked Salmon, Frisee Lettuce & Beer Mustard Vinaigrette
Yield: 4 servings

½ pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed clean
4 1-ounce smoked salmon filets
½ cup frisee (or thin, slightly bitter lettuce to substitute)
½ cup Beer Mustard Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
fresh cracked mixed peppercorns to taste
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
fleur de sel to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot of salted water over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in a colander. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1-inch thick slices.

To serve, place a salmon filet on one side of a rectangular plate. Garnish the salmon with pepper and shallot. Use a condiment bottle to squeeze a line of vinaigrette parallel to the salmon filet. Arrange the potatoes along the vinaigrette. Garnish the potatoes with fleur de sel. Toss the lettuce with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Arrange the lettuce in-between the potatoes and serve immediately.

Yield: ½ cup

2 Tbsp Beer Mustard (see recipe above)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste

Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and thyme. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly. Season with salt and serve.

ON THE MARKET: Not in the mood for grinding your own seeds? No problem. There are numerous high quality mustards made using popular craft beers. The following are some available throughout Southern California.

AleSmith Speedway Stout Mustard: AleSmith owner and brewmaster Peter Zien recently visited the National Mustard Museum in Madison, Wisconsin, bringing a jar for curators to sample. They were so impressed, this condiment now has a permanent space in their exhibit and their gift store.

Firestone Walker DBA Mustard: Of the growing number of beer mustards making their way to store shelves, this one offers perhaps the most robust flavor. Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale makes its presence known every bit as much as those peppy mustard seeds.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale & Honey Spice Mustard: This columnist’s personal favorite, it’s sweet with just the right bit of balancing bitterness. The popular Chico brewery also offers very traditional tasting Sierra Nevada Porter & Spicy Brown and Sierra Nevada Stout & Stoneground Mustards.

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale Mustard: A black IPA forms the backbone of this spicy whole grain condiment. Another IPA, Cali-Belgique (Stone IPA brewed with Belgian yeast) is used for a Dijon-style spread, while Stone Pale Ale finds its way into a stone-ground, semisweet iteration.

Photos by Brandon Hernández for West Coaster magazine
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