Hopped Up Eugene May 8 – 14
There are a very small handful of recipes I will use time and again, because we like variety in our house, and I like the challenge of preparing new food. Rarely do I make a recipe twice. It keeps me, and my family, interested in good food. I will say too that with beer, my philosophy is the same. Oregon is ripe with so many amazing breweries that I have a hard time drinking the same thing over and over again. Fire Mountain Brew House is the exception to this rule.
I first met Henry, the brewer, at a Market of Choice here in Eugene about a year and a half ago. He was sampling his wares, and I stood there for a good ten minutes drinking and talking about his operation. Fire Mountain’s brewing process is dialed in. They employ steam heat to warm tanks, and manually open and close valves. Everything is hand operated; nothing is computerized.
I’d like to think my kitchen is that way as well. Hand operated. Nothing much processed going on here. However, I have been traveling for work a lot lately, and when that happens, I try to simplify our dinner menu as much as possible. Sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. I have a friend from New Orleans and she keeps talking about Muffaletta sandwiches like they are the best thing ever, and I knew that I needed to try making them myself. Quick to make, and full of savory flavor, they would be filling for the mouth and soul.
To enhance the meal, I paired it with Fire Mountain’s Bad Henry IPA, knowing that the beer has strong hop and fruity aroma, with an earth and citrus rind flavor character, and a mildly spicy and bitter aftertaste. Some would maybe argue that the flavor does not compare to the initial aroma when compared to other IPA’s in the state, but here in this house, it is a strong contender to pair with many different dishes because of it. As a slightly milder flavored IPA, this particular beer offsets the salinity in a sandwich such as a Muffaletta, bringing out the flavors of the cheese and meat.
A person can find any number of Muffaletta sandwich recipes on the internet. Sometimes it’s spelled “muffUletta”, sometimes it is spelled “muffAletta”. The bread is very specific in the south, here in the Pacific Northwest, I used what I had – a french baguette. Olive relish, I made it with kalamata and green olives, with a bit of sundried tomatoes in olive oil. For the innards, provolone cheese, pepperoni and italian dry salami. Traditionally, mortadella and ham are used as well. Muffaletta; chewy, salty, hearty and delicious, with a nice pull of Bad Henry for the palate cleansing properties of a good beer.
To find out why Bad Henry is “saving souls one glass at a time”, take a Sunday drive up to their brewery in Carlton, Oregon, and ask Henry himself. Or see them at one of their many tasting events, next up in Eugene is at the Sasquatch Brewfest June 7. I see that they are also rolling out their Outlaw Brew House limited edition beer in the near future, something I am looking forward to trying. The brewery is open on Sundays from 11 am – 6 pm.