Pacific Sun Gourmet Olive Oil Blog

March 12, 2012

Beer and Olive Oil – New Encounters, New Opportunities


Historically, beer and olive oil have had divergent paths. Beer flourished as a refined product mostly in Northern European countries, where butter or lard was used as an essential fat.

Not much experimentation with olive oil took place; consequently, it was not recognized as a culinary staple until very recently.

In our days, with the emergence of new olive oil regions like ours – a place without vast culinary tradition -- new opportunities are to be explored.

Read on to learn how we recently explored one of those opportunities by combining beer and olive oil to make a savory sausage dish.

March 12, 2012 | Recipes |General |Comments (1 ) Pacific Sun Blog

Historically, beer and olive oil have had divergent paths. Beer flourished as a refined product mostly in Northern European countries, where butter or lard was used as an essential fat. In these countries, olive oil was mostly used as a frying media for which you don’t need quality oil. On top of that, the olive oil they had access to was of poor quality (as is still the case today in most non-producing regions); often times it was industrialized and subject to manipulation.

Not much experimentation with the golden oil took place; consequently, it was not recognized as a culinary staple until very recently. Meanwhile, in those cuisines, tradition was established without it.

However, olive oil took a leading role in the cuisines of countries or regions where wine was prevalent. If you take a look at places such as Provence, Sicily or Portugal -- among many others -- you’ll easily find recipes featuring both ingredients.

As you see, the central fat used in each cuisine determined a good deal of its development. How to imagine French cuisine without butter? How to imagine Greek cuisine without olive oil?

In our days, with the emergence of new olive oil regions like ours – a place without vast culinary tradition -- new opportunities are to be explored.

Local Artisanal Producers

We are proud to be part of a group of artisanal producers in this corner of Northern California, which includes award winning beer makers such as Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.

Ovila Quad - used with Pacific Sun Olive Oil to make Ovila Beer Sausages

Sierra Nevada is a praiseworthy company on so many levels. We deeply appreciate that over the years its growth never came at the expense of quality. To the contrary, theirs is a successful story of how positive a small/medium business can be for local communities and their economies.

Not only do we have geography in common with Sierra Nevada Brewery, we have connections through our dear neighbors at the Abby of New Clairvaux, a monastic community, in Vina. Ours is a relationship interwoven with agricultural and culinary elements. While Sierra Nevada makes a set of Belgian ales for the monastery, we make their olive oil.

And there are more bonds between New Clairvaux and Pacific Sun than olive oil. Brendon has helped in the orchards by offering agricultural advice and support. Jane Flynn, the owner of Pacific Sun, is on the board for the “Sacred Stones” project which seeks to rebuild a 12th century Gothic building with its original pieces brought from Ovila, Spain to California by William Randolph Hearst.

Sacred Stones - New Clairvaux

In honor of the monastic tradition of brewing ales, Sierra Nevada has created three different Ovila Ales (aptly named after the town from which the Sacred Stones originated): the Quad, a dark and rich ale and the Saison, a lighter ale. The first ale produced by the brewery was the Ovila Abbey Dubbel.  This beer was released in March of 2011 and it was an excellent representation of the beers brewed in the abbey tradition.

Ovila Ales

Culinary Blends

With good beer and good olive oil in abundance, we find ourselves pondering the issue of the two as a culinary couple. After playing in the kitchen with the Ovila Quad, we came up with this recipe. Included are a few helpful tips for appropriate ale selection.

Ovila Beer Sausages

When selecting your beer, it is always a good idea to keep in mind the intensity of the flavors. For instance, the Ovila Quad is very malty with caramel notes making it an ideal choice for a sweet and sour sauce. However, it would be overpowering as a sauce base for fish or rice dishes.

Take flavor intensity into account when adding herbs or when choosing your olive oil for finishing the dish. Remember that hops give a bitter edge to beers. You must keep an eye on the bitterness element present in the beer, herbs, and olive oil when making your selections. As a matter of fact we also tried the same sauce with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, certainly a wonderful beer though not ideal for this sauce (too much bitterness from the hops).

In this case, sausages (pork or chicken apple varieties) are a great pairing with the Ovila Quad. The sweet onion will counterbalance the bitterness thus it is the ideal option. Surely the sauce would work with shallots, leeks and scallions as well.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Eva’s Blend olive oil

4 chicken apple sausages

1 small sweet onion cut into small wedges lengthwise

1 cup of Ovila Quad (pour into measuring glass and let the foam get to the cup line)

Salt

Pepper

Parsley, chopped

Preparation:

In a cast iron skillet, sauté the sausages in olive oil until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, sauté the onion until golden (approximately 5 minutes).

Add the sausages and beer to pan. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the beer thickens to sauce consistency.

The cooking time can vary slightly according to your skillet and flame. What’s important is that you let the beer become syrupy; you don’t want a watery sauce.

Add salt, pepper and chopped parsley.

A good side dish for these tasty sausages is boiled potatoes. They will absorb the sauce nicely and lend balance to the richness of the dish. Remember, potatoes are always a great vehicle for enjoying fine olive oil.

The dish is already rich though raw olive oil such as such as Eva’s Blend drizzled over the potatoes and sausages will certainly add to the overall flavors.

Enjoy!

The Pacific Sun Olive Oil team,

Leslie, Brendon, Pablo

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