By Christopher McCollum
A few weeks ago, I bought a bottle of La Trappe Isid’or, the 125th anniversary edition of the brewery, named after Brother Isidorus, who was the first brewer of La Trappe. I cracked open this bottle a short time later (about thirty minutes to be exact) with fellow Cultured Gentleman, Micah Hanks, to take a sip of this pretty rare brew. We enjoyed our taste of it, but decided to move on to other tastings, such as the Founders Breakfast Stout. I re-corked the bottle, stuck it in my refrigerator and left it for later. Unfortunately, a day later, I came down pretty hard with an illness that left me under the weather for several days. Needless to say, the beer was forgotten. It didn’t help that I haven’t been home much over the past many days, and haven’t been in the ‘fridge longer than a few seconds, to grab things off the top shelf. La Trappe was left on its lonesome, gradually going flat, while my careless self went about my day, oblivious to the treachery going on in my own kitchen.
Today when I re-discovered this beer, I was left feeling ill again, this time a pain to my stomach as I realized what a waste this was. But I was feeling hungry, and decided I would pay respect to this beer by giving the bottle a fiery farewell.
One of my pastimes is sea food. All manners of it. One of my favorite pastimes within this pastime is deep frying shrimp, and trying new recipes for the batter and dipping sauces. Indeed, it is a necessity for the Culturally Sophisticated to know how to cook, and I don’t mean operating the microwave to nuke up a Hot Pocket. Whether you specialize in stir frying, deep frying, baking, broiling, soups, salads, bread sticks, or if you’re the jack-of-all-trades and can do it all, it is imperative that you know how to sustain yourself as well as others, in a fashionable way that doesn’t require ordering take out. As such, I’ve taken a fancy to stir frying, baking, and deep frying. As such, when I decided that I needed to honor this beer, I decided that I would try a new method of beer battering. Perhaps not quite a fitting end for such a regal Belgium Ale, but it was the best that I could do. I ended up using the rest of the bottle, and combined it with a delicious selection of other ingredients, and made some mouth-watering shrimp. Here’s what I did:
- 8oz La Trappe
- 1 1/3rd cup flour
- 2 tbsp buffalo sauce
- 1 tsp French Grey sea salt
- 1 tbsp paprika
Using these ingredients, I mixed the beer and the flour together, then added the paprika, buffalo sauce, and salt. Getting a thick (but not too thick!) mixture, I then sat this batter aside and went on to the next objective: Glaze.
You noticed in the above picture, a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon sitting conspicuously with a variety of other bottles, namely oil, cocktail sauce, and La Trappe. The reason was, I had a little bit of Bourbon left after a camping trip into the mountains that I went on just before Thanksgiving (more on this later), and didn’t feel like mixing a cocktail with it. I decided to make a Bourbon-based sauce to accompany the beer-battered shrimp, and the ingredients were such:
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 glove minced garlic
- 2 tbsp Bourbon
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- pinches of salt and pepper
- 4 tbsp butter
The garlic was added to the oil and cooked until brown, then taken off the stove to add the rest of the
ingredients. Lighting a match to the concoction burns the alcohol off (be careful. Use a long stemmed match), and then after the flame dies out, add the butter. Stir it all together, and voila, you’re ready! Now typically, this is supposed to be used as a glaze to coat the shrimp with prior to broiling, but since I was already deep frying, I decided to just use it as a sauce.
Now, for the shrimp. I had a pound and a half of fresh shrimp, in the shell. After removing the shells and cleaning the shrimp, they were left in a colander to wait until everything else was ready. The sauce, the batter, and eventually the frying apparatus. Heating up a couple inches of extra virgin olive oil was the easiest of all this, requiring no recipes, no critical thinking, and no taste-testing. Therefore, it was by far the most boring part.
As the oil neared the proper temperature for deep frying, the shrimp would be coated in the batter, for a couple of seconds, before being gently placed in the oil bath. I say gently because the first one I accidentally dropped in, and received a burning splash of hot oil to my hand that still has me rubbing at it, some 90 minutes later.
So, as I can not stress enough, gently place the shrimp in the oil and let it fry for about a minute to a minute and a half, or in other words, your own personal taste for crispiness, and then turn them over to the other side. Remove, and place on a paper towel/napkin covered plate or tray. Total cooking time varies for the amount of shrimp you’re planning on partaking in, so for me, it took about 20 minutes to deep fry a pound and a half. If you have a bigger deep fryer, it would obviously go a lot quicker, but for me, I could only handle a half dozen or so at a time. Finally, after all was said and done, I got to eat. And it was delicious. In fact, I am still snacking on a few of the last little guys, as I sip at a Sam Adams Winter Lager, in a reverent toast to the beer that made all this possible.
All in all, if you’ve got a beer that’s gone flat, don’t pour it out. Beer batter and deep fry with it. The more effervescent a beer is when you’re deep frying, the more difficult it is for the batter to form. So don’t waste a fresh one.
Bon apetit, folks!
P.S. The Bourbon dipping sauce wasn’t too great. Back to the drawing board on that one, and I highly recommend not trying it for yourself, unless you’re going to go with its intended purpose, which is a glaze. Maybe it’ll be better that way. If you try that one out, let me know!