This past weekend, we finally got around to harvesting our hops. They’d grown *insane* this year, and it was a task that had been easy to procrastinate on. One look at the abundance of hops, twisted vines, and leaves everywhere… it’s hard NOT to say “eh… LATER!”. Luckily, one of our hop-head friends was willing to come help out, and we got it all done!
As the guys were picking and sorting hops, I was in the kitchen, busily developing from fresh hop recipes we’d conceptualized a while ago. It’s always exciting when we finally get to turn a crazy idea into reality! Both recipes we were looking to create turned out amazingly well, and we even ended up with a 3rd recipe. Well… half recipe, anyway. (Hard to look at 3 ingredients and like 30 seconds of work as a recipe, right?)
This is my Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce. Based with IPA and fresh hops, it has a wonderfully complex taste, while still being a legit BBQ sauce. I’ll let the guys give you their two (four?) cents on the sauce…
“This is a delicious sauce that has a great complexity. It starts out sweet with hints of orange and pepper then fades away with a delicious hop flavor…
.. I don’t think you need to be a hop-head to enjoy this, but if you are – like I am! – then this will be right up your alley. The flavors compliment each other so well and will taste great on almost anything. I’m pretty sure I could just grab a spoon and dig into the jar when nobody is looking.” – Porter
“Being a Midwesterner, I had never had any seafood with BBQ sauce on it, sure ribs or pork slathered in the stuff but never any fish, let alone shell fish. I have to say the smell and look of the shrimp looked amazing, nicely seared with a light brushing of sauce. I was excited for the first bite. It was fantastic, the tangy smokey flavor was certainly making a showing, followed by the hot spicy flavors I love in any BBQ sauce, then the hops took the end and merged all the flavors with that of the shrimp. Just like a good hoppy pint of joy, the front, middle and end were present. Maybe it was because of the addition of the hops that I noticed this more than I have in other foods as a hop head I always look for more of a flavor profile in my beer than I usually do my food, but its addition definitely added excitement, taste and enjoyment. I was so surprised and would definitely keep an eye out for more foods and recipes with hops to try.” – Trevor
With the citrussy notes in this sauce, it worked ridiculously well on some grilled shrimp and scallops we made that night. It would also be great on pork and chicken, in particular – though I’m sure you could enjoy it on just about anything!
… and for those who don’t grow hops at home, they’re usually available for purchase at most homebrew supply stores – and they’re in season right now!
Hoppy IPA BBQ Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 small red onion, grated or finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, grated or finely chopped
1 cup IPA of choice
1/2 cup fresh hops, divided (We used Centennial)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh OJ
Zest of 1/2 or 1 orange
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
Saute onion and jalapeno in olive oil until translucent. Add beer, 1/4 cup of hops, and garlic, simmer for 5 minutes.
Add all remaining ingredients except for the 1/4 cup of reserved hops. Stir well, turn heat down to low, cover simmer for 1 hour – stir frequently.
Add remaining hops, simmer for 5 more minutes. Press sauce through wire strainer, discarding solids left behind. Chill until use.
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Hops are prized for their ability to impart varied, complex flavours to beer… but did you know they can also be used culinarily? While hops may seem like a bizarre or exotic item to cook with, it’s the same as using other herbs and spices in your kitchen… you just have to know what to do with them. Appetizers, main dishes, beverages.. even desserts can be uplifted with hops!
Even those who are not fans of beer will love the unique flavours that various types of hops can bring to their plate. Floral, earthy, peppery, citrusy… Cooking with hops is a great way to expand your seasoning arsenal!
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