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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Columbus-Brined Onion Sourdough

I've talked of my love for the Columbus hop here. Well, some time has passed since then but I still bloody love them. They've just got this sinister, dark, dank, vegetal thing going on when used in large quantities; I'm convinced that they're the perfect partner for onions and garlic. Onions are bright and acidic and sometimes bitter, they've got that flavour that just hangs around for hours, on your finger tips, on your breath. Onion and columbus should just work together, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall.

I've been playing around trying to bring these two flavours together and here's something that worked quite well.

I made a columbus brine by combining about a dozen ground columbus pellets, a generous pinch of salt and a litre or so of water. I then sliced up two smallish onions and soaked them in the brine for two days. The idea here is that the salty water draws out liquid from the onions and replaces it with the brine, leaving you with water that tastes of onion and onion that tastes of hops. Perfect.

Right, so, one of my other big loves is bread - I've been attempting (and failing) to produce the perfect loaf from my sourdough starter for about three years now. But, my thinking was that a slightly sour, wild tasting onion loaf with a columbus edge might just work. My sourdough recipe takes three days to make from beginning to end and involves a whole load of long-winded steps, you could easily just use any old bread recipe and achieve a decent result.

So go ahead and make some bread dough. Separate the onion from the liquid (may I suggest the use of a sieve?) and then very lightly wash any hop material off the onion with cold water. When the dough has gone through its last proving stage and is ready for the oven, simply scatter the onion over the top of the loaf and bake as normal.

What I got looked a little like this:

The combination works superbly. You get that tart, rustic bread with the smack of onion flavour on top and then the leafy, dank columbus and a subtle bitterness. I had the bread warm with a glass of Kernel Columbus Pale Ale, the beer just freshening up the hop flavour, picking it out of the bread and adding a sweetness that helped balance out any bitterness.

I've had some failures when cooking with hops (see here for instance), but whether it be luck or judgment, on this occasion, it came together beautifully.


Mark Dredge said...

Nice work! Do you think red onion would give much of a different flavour? And would these be overpowering on a hot dog?

Mark said...

I always think red onion is a bit softer and sweeter than white (at least the white onions you get in England anyway) and I kinda like that harsh onion flavour with the harsh hops.

Loving the idea of these on a hot dog! Not sure if you'd want them raw though and maybe heating them so directly will bring out the bitterness a bit more.

Leigh said...

Mark, another excellent idea, and I'm glad this worked out! Lovely, interesting idea. bravo!

Scyrene said...

I think this is the first time I've seen "dank" used as a compliment! ;)

Mark said...

Dank in a very good way! ;)

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