After over-ordering curing salt for my sister to make her own Christmas Ham, I decided the best possible use for the surplus would be an attempt at making our own bacon. Obviously I wanted to try and work beer in to the recipe too and set about researching wet cures. Unfortunately my first choice of beer (Bottled Adnams Broadside) had been consumed on Christmas Day, so I decided to use a 750ml bottle of Innis & Gunn Oak Aged beer I had kicking around. We cured and cold smoked a whole pork belly, with surprisingly good results! The first attempt may have been a touch salty and perhaps a bit light on smoke, but we were really pleased with ourselves for a first attempt. I will post a recipe after we’ve perfected it, the next cure will be with Adnams Broadside…
Having constructed a small scale cold smoker out of my old school trunk for the purpose of making bacon, the chefs were now keen to experiment and have been smoking everything they can get their hands on (no I don’t mean banana skins & dried oregano) including some Local Wild Rabbit Saddles which they served with a Wild Mushroom & Tarragon Risotto and some Lardons of our Beer Cured Smoked Bacon. Unsurprisingly the dish was a fast seller as soon as it appeared on the specials. We also received some ‘cyber drooling’ after posting on Twitter & Facebook. After taking orders from several customers throughout the evening, and getting stunning feedback, I could take it no more and ordered one for myself to enjoy at the end of service.
I delved in to my personal beer stash in the cellar in search of something that could handle the rich smokey & earthy flavours and help cut through the creamy risotto. Usually a bit of a hoarder I was surprisingly quick to pick a beer I’ve only just added to the stash following a trip to Brighton and The Spotted Dog. I chose a 6.9% Galaxy India Pale Ale from Kernel Brewery, I’d not had this beer before, but Kernel IPA’s never disappoint and I thought it might just have the credentials for this dish, surely rabbit deserved a hoppy beer *gets coat*.
Firstly on to the
food porn meal, Home Smoked Saddle of Local Rabbit with a Wild Mushroom & Tarragon Risotto and Our Own Beer Cured Smoked Bacon Lardons. Wow. You might think I’m biased, and I probably am, but this dish was truly stunning, beautifully executed and an absolute delight to eat.
I tentatively took the first sip of Kernel IPA to wash down a tender smokey piece of rabbit and was instantly disappointed. The fizz washed away the gentle smokiness of the rabbit leaving almost nothing behind. A second sip and I thought about saving the beer until I had finished the meal so I could enjoy and appreciate this delightful brew fully. Then I had a taste of the mushroom risotto and was instantly transported to heaven. The earthy, minerally malt backbone and grassy hops danced with the rich wild mushrooms & tarragon, the gentle fizz & piney citrus flavours cut through the creamy arborio rice leaving me eager for my next mouthful. This time I popped some smoked bacon on to the fork with another heap of risotto, a sip of beer to cleanse the palate, a taste of food and another glug of Kernel, the sweet fruity foreground washing the saltiness away lifting the bacon to another level and yet still managing to tango with the wild mushrooms and tarragon.
The tender smoked rabbit was almost certainly the star of this dish, although sadly it didn’t see eye to eye with the kernel beer so I ate the rabbit first, ignoring the beer completely and savoring every single bite. I left myself with a glass full of Galaxy IPA and plateful of Risotto and Bacon Lardons. I finished off the dish washing each mouthful down with a sip of this stunning beer only to be extremely disappointed as I emptied both my glass and my plate.