Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer 2018: Abita Beer & Food Pairings
Story by Nora McGunnigle for GoNOLA.com
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s eighth annual Boudin, Bourbon & Beer is happening on November 9 in Champion Square, and founding sponsor Abita Beer will be providing the third “B” in BB&B as always, reminding us that a Louisiana-made beer is the best to pair with this unique, Louisiana food. There are almost as many beer styles at the event as there will be dishes (more than 70, which is the event’s largest number of chefs yet) and each dish has a perfect beer to complement it.
Multiple bars and beer trailers will be dispensing Amber, Hop-On IPA, The Boot, Turbodog®, Andygator®, Purple Haze®, Wrought Iron IPA, 30° 90° Citra-dry hopped lager, Christmas Ale Seasonal, Grapefruit Honey Lager Harvest Seasonal, and Office Party spiced stout.
There also will be the opportunity to have your beer AND your bourbon cocktail in one glass because two of the beers in Bourbon Street Series collection will be poured this year: Old Fashioned Pale Ale and Rye Pale Ale. Since the event also profiles bourbon, the bourbon-barrel aged beers are a nice tip of the hat to the overall theme of BB&B.
To get into the spirit of pairing the beers with boudin, I asked four chefs what beer pairings they recommend with their dish, and this is what they had to say.
Mopho and Maypop
Chef-owner Michael Gulotta will offer “The BaoDin,” a boudin-stuffed bao bun with kumquat mustard. “It represents out love for tinkering with Southeast Asian and Southeast Louisiana flavors,” he says. “We serve bao at our dim sum brunch [at Maypop] so we thought, why don’t we put boudin in the bao – and add cheese.” The pork boudin is mixed with sticky rice and pepper jack cheese, stuffed in the bao, steamed, and fried. Gulotta says, “It’s like a crispy hotdog and hamburger all in one.” He suggests pairing the BaoDin with Hop On IPA. “It needs something brighter, it needs those citrus notes, to balance out the liver-y iron notes and to cut through the richness of the cheese.”
Chef Ashwin Vilkhu is bringing a long-loved childhood dish to his first Boudin Bourbon & Beer – a boudin kebob inspired by Northern Indian cuisine, which will be cooked on a live fire at the event using a large iron skillet called a tava. He recommends pairing the kebobs with Abita Amber, a beer that holds fond memories for him. “It has a freshness and richness all at the same time, which pairs well with the spicy, fatty pork,” Vilkhu says. “It’s perfect to to bring the flavors out in the dish without neutralizing them.”
Piece of Meat
Leighann Smith says that she “straight-up stole” the boudin eggroll dish from a random gas station outside of Opelousas. “I ate so many of them I made myself sick,” she says. The boudin, along with pepperjack cheese, is wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried up, as many visitors to Scott, LA or travelers along route 190 through Krotz Springs know very well. Her partner in the butcher-eatery, Daniel Jackson, chose the Abita Boot Kolch style beer to pair with the rich, fatty dish. “It’s a lighter beer but still has a nice, bold flavor, which cuts the spice of the boudin well” she says.
The chef de cuisine at Alon Shaya’s Saba, Cara Peterson, is bringing a variation of a signature dish from the restaurant – lamb boudin-stuffed grape leaves with tarator (aka tzatziki) and pickled golden raisins and hummus with black-eyed peas, pecan tahini, and sumac. “It’s something that’s Louisiana traditional, but taking our Middle Eastern approach to it, using lamb livers and ground lamb leg.” Saba’s head bartender, Oliver Sohol, decided on The Boot to pair with the grape leaves. “The German Kolsch style really lends itself to that sweet and savory pairing – with the golden raisins, and the boudin will be spiced with clove, a little aleppo pepper, and coriander – it brings out that warm spice.”
Pairing on Your Own
Based on the full menu of boudin options and significant list of Abita beers, I have some suggestions about pairing, or at least the thinking behind pairing. NOTE: I have not tried any of the dishes that will be at the event, so my suggestions are fueled by the dish’s ingredients and my imagination. I encourage you to use your imagination too and see what works and what doesn’t.
As a super food-friendly beer (and one of Emeril’s favorites to cook with), Turbodog brown ale is a very versatile beer to pair with almost all of the meaty dishes. That said, I especially like the thought of pairing Turbodog with Dustie Latolais (Cochon Cannery out of Breaux Bridge) pork, apple and Steen’s syrup sausage with spicy bacon jam and pickled red onion.
Jimi Setchim (Broussard’s): oyster boudin and brie crépinette, with kale slaw, and almond vinaigrette. The raspberry fruit profiles in Purple Haze pair beautifully with brie cheese, and this oyster and cheese sausage patty will be full flavored yet much lighter than a traditional meat crépinette, which reflects Purple Haze’s burst of intense flavor in a very light bodied beer.
Pairing this dry-hopped brown ale with Alex Harrell’s (The Elysian Bar) confit duck liver risotto with roasted apples, charred leeks, and pumpkin mostarda is a study in seasonality. The diverse and complex malt and hop profiles of the Christmas Ale (no spices are in this year’s version – for that, see the new Office Party spiced stout below) come together for a roasty yet straighforward brew that showcases the seasonal ingredients of the dish. Since there are a fair amount of hops in the beer as well, the slight bitterness will cut the richness of the duck liver, the citrus aroma and flavor will complement the apples and pumpkin, and the piney essence will work well with the charred leeks and sharp mostarda.
Grapefruit Honey Lager
Joaquin Rodas and Jennifer Cole (Bacchanal)’s chicken, cured chorizo, field pea, and mint boudin with lemon pesto. This is a tough beer to pair without having tasted the dishes, because there are a lot of moving parts here. I think that the mint and lemon in the dish will complement the grapefruit’s citrus notes, and the sweet bitterness will cool the chorizo and cut the richness of the boudin.
Chef Michael Gulotta’s “BauDin” (photo supplied by Boudin, Bourbon & Beer)
Richard Sutton (St. James Cheese Company) is bringing Jasper Hill Farm Willoughby cheese which he’s washed (the rind) with Abita Blueberry Wheat and it should pair quite well with the slightly boozy (8% ABV) Helles Doppelbock, with the beer’s subtle malty sweetness and dry but slightly fruity finish.
Slade Rushing (Brennan’s): octopus boudin shumai with bourbon barrel soy.There’s a lot of salty richness going on here, and the crisp, light, hoppy taste and a mouthful of this dry-hopped lager will pleasantly clear the taste buds and palate between sips.
Eason Barksdale (Bayona): Moroccan duck sausage with flatbread, date molasses and yogurt. The spices added to this smooth stout – cacao nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg – will complement the date molasses and yogurt while the oats and general maltiness will counter the spice of the sausage without negating any flavor.
Wrought Iron IPA
Since Abita’s tasting notes for this beer say that the intense hoppiness of this IPA goes well with grilled sausage and spicy mustard, as well as grilled meats, there are several options along those lines that would work well. Donald Link’s classic Cajun boudin with Cochon mustard and pickles is a solid choice, but also try Wrought Iron with Jim Richard (Trenasse)’s boudin-stuffed rabbit loin with a Creole mustard demi, or, if you want to really go out on a limb, try the boudin & collard green tamales with roasted chile sauce piquante from Justin Devillier (La Petite Grocery, Balise).
Bourbon Street Series Old Fashioned Pale Ale
I’d go for Michael Nelson’s (GW Fins) dirty duck boudin slider with a sour cherry foie gras sabayon, because I’m intrigued to see how the sour cherry in the sabayon would bring out the maraschino cherry essence in the Old Fashioned-inspired beer. These are also two strongly flavored sides of the pairing equation that would stand up to one another, without leaving one neutralized.
Bourbon Street Series Rye Pale Ale
Carl Schaubaut (DTB)’s pork rillette pecan pie with root beer cane syrup and whipped mustard would certainly stand up to the strong, boozy bourbon and rye essence, and the sweet-spicy-rich combination of the ingredients would also provide a similarly complex flavor profiles as the barrel aged beer.
Happy Boudin, Bourbon & Beer’ing!