Dubbels and strong dark ales emphasize caramelized malt, dark Belgian candy sugar, dark fruits like figs, and sometimes even notes of rum. They’re contemplative ales, and as the beer of monks, drinking one is sure to inspire your own remote monastery in your basement, garage, or stairwell. While meditating, make sure to envision the perfect pairing of gamey meats or darker preparations of oily fish.
Pairing Thoughts …
Dubbels and strong darks pair well with lamb, duck, and beef stew. Caramelized malts match duck skin, the raisin-like notes of the beer complement the dark meat flavors, and carbonation lifts the fattiness from the palate. Adding these beers into a caramelized dark fruit reduction sauce really sets off the match, and earthiness in them can make them appetizing with mushroom dishes as well. Use the beer as the stock for a beef stew and it’s sure to be a hit.
Braised Short Ribs with Daikon and Glass Noodles
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• Four 12-ounce flanken-cut beef short ribs, about 1 1/2 inches thick
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup dry sherry (or dubbel)
• 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
• 1/2 cup mirin
• 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
• 8 garlic cloves, smashed
• One 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
• 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
• 3/4 pound daikon, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 large carrots, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
• 6 cups water
• 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
• 4 ounces dried dangmyeon noodles (Korean nooodles), or mung bean noodles
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the vegetable oil. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until richly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a plate.
2. Add the sherry or dubbel to the casserole and boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom. Add the soy sauce, mirin, onion, garlic, ginger, shiitake, brown sugar and half each of the daikon and the carrots. Return the ribs to the casserole and pour in the water. Bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.
3. Transfer the ribs to a plate; cover and keep warm. Pick out the shiitake mushrooms, cutting off and discarding the stems. Strain the braising liquid. Return the liquid to the casserole and boil over high heat, skimming any fat from the surface, until reduced to 4 cups, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the remaining daikon and carrots to the casserole along with the sesame oil and shiitake mushrooms. Cover and simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, 20 minutes. Return the ribs to the casserole and simmer until heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to a boil. In a bowl, cover the noodles with warm water; let stand until pliable, 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and cut into 4-inch lengths. Add the noodles to the saucepan and cook until tender but still chewy, 25 seconds. Drain and transfer the noodles to shallow bowls. Nestle the ribs on the noodles, ladle the vegetables and broth on top and serve.
Adapted from Food & Wine