FABPOW=Food& Beer Pairing. I guess that this is really a FACPOW!
Not all food and drink pairings have to be planned out meticulously in advance. Nor do they have to be haute cuisine or use an uber rare/ expensive drink for pairing. Some of the best can be spur of the moment things.
I had a load of mushrooms I'd bought reduced last weekend that needed using; so decided to make stroganoff. This needs something sweet and fruity to help bring out the flavours, which is often wine but I plumped for cider. The cider section in Asda is in sorry shape, not even sporting the likes of Weston's, so ubiquitous on the main land but rarely seen outside of Wetherspoon over here. What I did pick up was a 750ml bottle from McCann's, a Northern Ireland producer, which I must have previously overlooked due to its proximity to Magners and Stella Cidre on the shelf. I used about 250ml in the dish, leaving the best part of a pint as a chef's perk.
It pours a slightly hazy light gold, almost perry coloured with a steady stream of fine bubbles. The nose is sweet mushy golden delicious apples, with richer bramley's underneath and a touch of old straw.
Fairly sweet in the mouth, certainly a high proportion of eating apples in the mix, but with just enough tannin at the back of the palate to be medium rather than sweet in category. Gentle carbonation and a dry finish leaves you going for more. Not bad for just over £2!
The stroganoff is fairly simple to make. Fry an onion and clove of garlic in butter until translucent, then reduce heat and sweat down ~400g mushrooms for 10mins. I used a mix of chestnut, portobello and baby button plus dried oyster, shiitake and porcini to give a good depth of flavour and mix of textures. Remove the lid from the pan and allow the mushroom juices to evaporate, then add 250ml cider or wine, simmering for two minutes. Add a tub of crème fraiche and 1/2 tbs of cornflour made up in 2tbs water*, stirring well until thickened. Serve with rice and sprinkle with parsley/ chives if you so desire. Simple!
It pairs perfectly with the stroganoff. You'd expect it to make a decent fist of it,what with it being used in the dish but I think it brings more to it than that (certainly a better pairing than wine and stroganoff). The earthy, umami in the mushrooms provides a contrast to the sweet, fresh apples, riffing off each other. The carbonation and alcohol content cut through the crème fraiche, refreshing the palate and the rich sauce is perfectly complemented by the dry, slightly tannic finish to the cider. Such a simple pairing but a classic.
*I used the liquid from rehydrating my dried mushrooms for extra richness.