Saturday, July 5, 2014

#peterbsbrewsandbitescontest: Legend of Laguna Carnitas over Pan-Fried Polenta Cakes

When I saw #peterbsbrewsandbitescontest - a cooking contest to create an appetizer using one of their brews - announced on Peter B's Facebook page, I was instantly inspired. I wanted to create a dish showcasing my favorite Peter B's brew: Legend of Laguna IPA.

I am definitely not a hop-head; I am typcially not a fan of IPAs. But the first time I tasted the Legend of Laguna IPA, in a tasting flight, I was enamored. It was my favorite of the six for sure.

I went back to try it a second time and had the same reaction: I love the citrusy, everygreeny taste! It's bright without being too bitter. I'm definitely a fan.

So, to play on those orange and pine flavors, I created some carnitas-topped polenta cakes made with citrus juice and pine honey.

If you're local, here's a link to all the places you can purchase bottles, and the brew pub also has growlers & growlettes to go! Here we go...what I made for #peterbsbrewsandbitescontest...

Note: Read through the entire recipe post before making your grocery list; there are three parts to this - the carnitas, the polenta cakes, and the garnishes. Also, make the carnitas and polenta a day before you plan to serve. Enjoy!

Legend of Laguna IPA-Braised Carnitas

Carnitas Ingredients
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless pork, cut into 2-inch pieces 
  • 12 oz Legend of Laguna IPA
  • 1 T pine honey
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Bring all of the ingredients - except salt and pepper - to a boil in a large, flat-bottom pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pork is fork-tender, approximately an hour.

Uncover pork; simmer until liquid evaporates and pork begins to brown, approximately half an hour. Continue to cook, for another 10 minutes, until the pork is nicely browned. Shred pork with a fork.

Pan-Fried Polenta Cakes
Polenta Ingredients
  • 2 C polenta
  • 5 C warm water
  • 1/2 C Legend of Laguna IPA
  • 1 T pine honey
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 C freshly squeezed kumquat juice
  • 4 T butter
  • freshly ground sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Bring water, IPA, honey, and citrus juices to a boil in a large saucepan. Add freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Gradually whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and the cornmeal is tender, stirring constantly, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in butter, and season to taste with more salt and pepper. Spoon into a buttered pan and let cool.

Once cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.

To Assemble...
  • butter
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Melt a pat of butter in a skillet. Slice your polenta into serving size pieces - what ever size you want. I tried both bite-sized and larger. Pan-fry the cakes until a crisp crust forms, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Reheat the carnitas with 1/2 C water in a covered pot, adding more water if needed to keep pork moist.

Place the polenta cakes on your serving plate. Drizzle with salsa. Top with carnitas. Add a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with freshly ground salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.


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