Having once judged Iron Chef America, I thought this assignment was fun. And a lot of my favorite cooking is based on what’s interesting in the market today, or even what’s in my refrigerator at the moment. It’s a tougher thing than it looks, though, to pick five ingredients. By the time you’ve reached five ingredients, it often becomes clear what the dish is going to be, and I wanted to avoid that. I also wanted ingredients that could clearly create something that would be nice with beer.
I decided upon pork belly, white navy beans, Brussels Sprouts, eggs and unbleached white flour. From these ingredients you can go in a number of different directions. You can braise the pork belly and serve it cassoulet-style, have the sprouts on the side, and use the flour and eggs to make an accompanying bread. You could also use the pork cassoulet in an omelette. The pork can be cooked into a ragu, and then the eggs and flour made into pasta, with frizzled and fried Brussels sprouts added just before serving. The pasta could also be used to make the covering for a pork and white bean ravioli with sprouts, or the covering for a Chinese dumpling. You can use the flour and eggs to make bread, then make a pretty tasty bruschetta. You can make some great ramen-style noodles also. And if you cure the pork belly into bacon, you’ve got a whole other range of dishes you can do.
Depending on your dexterity and creativity, you could do a lot with these five ingredients and some spices. I’ll be fascinated to see what people come up with!
Internationally recognized brewer and expert on traditional beer, Garrett Oliver is the brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and the author of The Brewmaster's Table.