cooking with beer: my antonia

We were supposed to go out last night, but my friend Sienna got sick and Domenico was going to be late getting back from Tuscany, so plans changed and we decided to just stay home. But it was Friday night, and to make things a little more festive I decided to walk over to Domus Birrae to pick up a bottle of something special.

Domus Birrae is Rome’s best craft beer shop. Lucky for me, it’s basically right around the corner. I love this place, not just for it’s wealth of beers, but because it allows me to veer out of my comfort zone. I’m no stranger to craft beers, but I tend to keep going back to what I know and love. If left to my own devices I’ll walk out with Balladin’s Isaac, Maltus Faber’s Ambrata or my new obsession Birraficcio Rurale’s Seta.

But the boys at Domus are always happy to steer me in new directions. They often invite the brewers themselves to come hold tastings, and that’s how I came to discover Valter Loverier, and his grape and fruit based beers.

Last night I mentioned that I was going to be cooking sausages. “Something bitter then, to offset the fattiness.” Ok. So I walked out with a big bottle of Birra del Borgo’s My Antonia. (I also bought 4 bottles of Seta, but that’s just to have around, just in case).

Birra del Borgo, along with Balladin, is one of Italy’s top brewers and the brewmaster, Leonardo di Vincenzo, is one of the guys behind the soon to open beer garden atop Eataly in NY. My Antonia was the result of a collaboration between Birra del Borgo’s  Di Vincenzo and Doghead brewer Sam Calagione (who is also involved with Eataly). They wanted to work on something together and decided on a continually hopped imperial pils. The amount and continual addition of hops make this an incredibly floral beer, but with a real strong bitter- yet elegant – finish.

In other words, perfect for pairing with sausages and peppers. Which got me thinking. I usually add a cup of white wine near the end of this dish, but why not use a glass of My Antonia? I figured the bitter edge would be just right to offset the plump fatty sausage and slightly sweet peppers. And I was right, it was perfect.

I’m not sure how easy it is to find My Antonia in the States. Dogshead distributes it too. But if you can’t find it, don’t worry. Any pils will do – at least for the cooking part, of course. As far as the drinking, My Antonia was pretty great.

Sausage and Peppers, with My Antonia

6 sweet Italian sausages
2 large red bell peppers
1 large green bell pepper
2 red onions
red pepper
1 cup My Antonia Pils

Cut the sausage into 3/4 inch slices. Brown in a pan (not non-stick) large enough to hold everything later. Let them brown really well, about 10 minutes at medium high heat. Don’t worry if bits stick to the pan, that’s the point.

Take the sausage out with a slotted spoon, leaving behind the fat. Put sausage aside.

Add onions, sliced 1/4 inch, to pan. Stir them, scraping up the bits of browned sausage. Add red pepper and salt to taste. As the onions wilt, they will give up their liquid, which will help you deglaze.

After about 8 minutes, add the peppers, cut into 1/2 strips. Keep stirring every so often, until the peppers get soft and are almost cooked through.

Add the peppers back to the pan and cover. Let cook at low simmer for another 15 minutes.

Take cover off, raise heat and add the pils. Let it bubble away, and serve.

This would be perfect with polenta, but I was lazy and so just picked up some bread from Tricolore.

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