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Recipe Box: Denver Bacon and Beer Festival

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As the somewhat inarticulate clergyman from the Princess Bride would say, “Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what brings us together today.” Except this time, it’s not a deceitful marriage between a repulsive prince and a beautiful princess, it’s a mouth-watering arrangement between bacon and beer, two staples of the American diet. In light of the second-annual, sold-out Denver Bacon and Beer Festival on Sunday, we asked local chefs to contribute personal recipes that include both bacon and beer. From fall vegetables in a bacon-beer glaze to bacon brownies with a chocolate stout frosting, this tailored list of five recipes is as suitable for a hangover as it is a dinner party.

1. Grilled Romaine Salad with a Bacon and Butternut Squash Relish

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Recipe by Jesse Albertini, executive chef at CafeBar

(Serves 2)

Parmesan Dressing

6 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups buttermilk

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1 quart Parmesan cheese

2 cups sour cream

2 dashes Tabasco

½ tablespoons black pepper

1 cup chives

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Combine all ingredients except for the chives in a blender. Chiffonade the chives and fold in.

Bacon and Butternut Squash Relish

1 cup diced bacon

1 cup small diced butternut squash

1 cup of a hoppy beer

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¼ cup chopped parsley

¼ cup small diced shallots

2 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Render the bacon, set fat aside and allow bacon to cool. Cook butternut squash in the bacon fat until tender to touch with a fork. Add the beer, cooking for two minutes until the alcohol cooks off and the squash is glazed. Allow the squash to cool. Combine all ingredients and season to taste.

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Grilled Romaine

1 Romaine heart

olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Cut the romaine heart length-wise and cover the cut sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place the oiled side facedown on the hottest spot of the grill. Grill for about 15 seconds or until there are dark grill marks on the romaine.

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Dress the romaine heart with 2 ounces of dressing, bacon and squash relish, and additional Parmesan.

2. Southern Braised Greens with Bacon

Recipe by Justin Brunson, co-founder of Denver Bacon Company and executive chef-owner at Old Major

(Serves 4–6)

1 pound DBC bacon, chopped

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3 cups sliced onions

8 cloves garlic, mashed

3 teaspoons of salt

¾ teaspoon cayenne

¾ teaspoon black pepper

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1 quart of water

1 12-ounce can of beer (Brunson recommends: Avery’s Joe’s Pilsner)

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

2 tablespoons molasses

5 pounds mustard greens or kale (rinsed well, picked over, and tough stems removed)

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In a large, heavy pot cook the bacon until it has rendered most of its fat, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onions, garlic, salt, cayenne, and black pepper and cook until the onions are wilted, about 4 minutes. Add 1 quart of water, the beer, vinegar, and molasses and bring to a boil. Begin adding the greens in batches, pressing down with a wooden spoon to submerge them in the hot liquid and adding more as they wilt. When all of the greens have been added, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender.

3. Potatoes Boulangére (pictured)

Recipe by Maxwell Mackissock, chef at Williams & Graham

(Serves 4)
Why Mackissock loves this recipe: “Bacon and beer are two things that we tend to crave this time of year when the temperature drops and we are less worried about how we look under a sweater. In this recipe we use a brown ale to match the complexity of the veal stock. This is a recipe that I have been using for many years; it is an amazing complement to roasted red meat, specifically lamb. Tip: The recipe is quite easy, as long as you pay attention to a few details: Make sure your veal stock is reduced by at least half so that it coats the potatoes as they roast, rather than simmering them. Make sure that when caramelizing the onions they are all the same size, and that you stir frequently.”

10 ounces bacon

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3 onions, peeled and sliced

3 ounces canola oil

2 pounds small, cleaned, fingerling potatoes (1–1.5 inches long)

2 cups viscous veal stock

2 tablespoons thyme leaves

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2 tablespoons rosemary leaves

16 ounces Brown Ale

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut the bacon into strips and render over medium heat in a thick-bottomed pot (preferably an enamel-coated Dutch oven) until crisp. Place the bacon on a paper towel. Add the onions into the pot, add the oil, and coat thoroughly. Caramelize the onions over medium-low heat until they are a light golden brown, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and scraping the bottom of the pan.

While the onions are cooking, cover the fingerling potatoes in the reduced veal stock so they are at least partially submerged. Roast in the oven until they are tender and the stock has mostly reduced and turned into a glaze.

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Add thyme and rosemary to the caramelized onions and deglaze with beer. Cook until the beer has evaporated. Add in potatoes and bacon. Mix well, add salt and pepper to taste.

Honey, Pale Ale, Bacon, Rosemary Glazed Vegetables

Recipe by Jennifer Jasinski. co-owner and executive chef at Rioja, Euclid Hall, and Bistro Vendôme

(Serves 4)

4 cups vegetable stock

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2 cups Steamworks Euclidean Pale Ale (or any other pale ale)

1 cup Colorado honey

4 cups fall vegetables (fennel, carrots, rutabaga/turnips, potatoes, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, gourds, or pumpkin)

6 ounces bacon, cut into strips

unsalted butter as needed

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1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Bring vegetable stock, beer, and honey to a boil and then remove from heat, do not reduce. Set glaze aside for later.

Cut vegetables into uniform 4x ¼ -inch square batons. Leave vegetables separated into two different categories: hard vegetables and softer/tender vegetables.

Begin dish by rendering bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and sauté the hard vegetables in bacon fat and butter until they begin to soften. Add the tender vegetables, cook until crisp and deglaze with 3 ounces of the glaze. Allow the glaze to reduce around the vegetables until it coats them evenly. Add bacon back in. Add ½ a tablespoons of butter to the glazed vegetables and 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve in a warm cast iron crock.

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5. Brown Butter Bacon Brownies with Chocolate Stout Frosting

Recipe by Jodi Polson, pastry chef at Glaze: the Baum Cake Shoppe

(Makes 1 pan)

Why Polson loves this recipe: I love that beer and bacon are delicious individually, but can also be combined in so many sweet and savory dishes. Bacon appeals to all my senses and just the smell of it makes my mouth water. My husband and I recently became homebrewers and I’ve come to appreciate beer even more than I did before (hard to believe). So much taste can be packed into a pint and there are endless possibilities for flavors. I’ll take a glass of cold beer over a glass of wine any day. These brownies are super moist and the brown butter really adds a nice nuttiness that pairs nicely with the salty bacon. The frosting is more like a ganache than anything else, and just adds a good richness that isn’t overpowering. Tip: Don’t overbake these brownies, they should be really fudgy. If you’re not sure they’re done, use the toothpick test. The frosting works much better if it has been chilled, but chilling it too long will turn it into a solid mass. If that happens, just bring it to room temperature before spreading.

Brownies

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10 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

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¼ teaspoon of salt

2 eggs

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached flour

1 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

Preheat oven to 325°. Melt butter over medium heat until foaming and browned bits form at pan’s bottom. Remove from heat; add sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla, and salt. Let cool 5 minutes.

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Add eggs one at a time, beating until blended. Add flour and beat until well blended; stir in bacon. Pour into 8×8 baking pan (buttered, lined with parchment) and bake about 25 minutes or until done.

Frosting

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup cocoa

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1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ chocolate stout (or your favorite stout)

¼ heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

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Melt butter over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Gradually stir in stout and cream, stir until mixture just begins to simmer. Reduce heat, stir about 1 minute. Transfer to a clean bowl and stir in vanilla. Let chill until thickened. Bring to room temperature and spread over brownies.

—Photo courtesy of Maxwell Mackissock

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