This post was not sponsored by Lazy Magnolia.
It’s March, which means for the next two weeks or so, every food blogger and food-related publication is going to be pushing St. Patrick’s Day.
I don’t cook a lot of Irish food. Sure, we’ll do a corned beef a cabbage just to keep in the spirit of things, but that’s about the extent of it. To be honest, I feel like the same recipes make the rotation every year. Make your own shamrock shakes, Irish soda bread, Irish stew, how many ways can we cook with Guinness?
Done, done, and done.
I’ve been motivated lately to focus on what I know and what I know is Southern food. I wanted to create an Irish-inspired dish, but somehow tie it in to what’s local. That’s when I decided, okay, I’ll cook with beer. But I’m not using Irish beer. I’m using Mississippi beer.
Wait, Mississippi beer? Oh yes, friend. Mississippi is somewhat behind on the craft beer movement, but that’s because until recently we still had some very archaic prohibition-era laws still on the books. Three years ago, a grassroots movement called Raise Your Pints was successful in bringing about change and since 2013 several Mississippi craft breweries have set up shop.
However, Lazy Magnolia is the pioneer. When they began production in 2005, they became the first brewery to operate in Mississippi since 1907. This is not the first time I’ve cooked with one of Lazy Mag’s brews. I used their Southern Hops’pitality IPA in this recipe for steamed mussels.
I contacted Lazy Magnolia and asked them to suggest a beer that closely resembled the Irish Guinness. Michelle Robinson, their marketing and public relations director, recommended Jefferson Stout. It’s a cream stout brewed with sweet potatoes and lactose (milk sugar) with added notes of roasted chocolate, coffee and caramel flavors.
I decided on braised meatballs because I knew I could put together meatballs relatively quickly even with two wild monkeys running through the house. I went with pork because I already had it on hand. It was the right decision. I would definitely recommend using meat with a neutral flavor like ground pork or ground chicken. The sauce ended up being very complex with a lot of flavor and the ground pork let that shine through rather than competing with it.
The sauce was definitely the star of the show. It was very rustic and earthy. I could totally envision myself dining in an Irish pub somewhere. I served these over buttered egg noodles with sliced oven roasted cabbage on the side.
Oh, and FYI – the sauce mellows after it sits for awhile. While the meatballs were delicious straight out of the pan, they were even better as leftovers for lunch the next day.
Beer Braised Meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground pork or chicken
- 1 egg
- 1 slice day old wheat bread torn or pulsed into crumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
For the sauce:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter divied
- 1 medium onion thinly sliced into rings
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 1 bottle 12 oz stout beer (or beef broth)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Hot cooked egg noodles for serving, optional
Combine all meatball ingredients except the oil in a large mixing bowl. Using clean hands, mix together ingredients just until thoroughly combined. Form meatballs into 2-inch (golfball size) balls.
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Working in batches, add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 2-3 minutes. Remove meatballs from the pan and set aside.
Melt butter in the stock pot. Add the onions and cook until they being to soften, about five minutes. Season onions with salt and pepper. Pour in the stout and the sugar. Add the meatballs back to the pot. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove lid from pan and cook an additional 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Stir in remaining two tablespoons of butter.
Served over hot buttered egg noodles drizzled with onions and gravy.
Makes about 12 meatballs