I hate to pick a favorite style of beer – BUT if I was forced to, at gun-point, saison would narrowly win.
As you know, saison and I have been in a torrid love affair for some time now. I love it’s zippy carbonation, lemony brightness, and peppery bite. Because of these aspects, saison is particularly wonderful when paired with food. The citrus character shines and the pepper sings. The carbonation cleanses the palate after each sip.
But first, let’s talk about the beer.
Stone Saison is a distinctly Stone beer – brewed with ingredients fresh from their farm in California, including thyme and lavender. They also add lemon zest and grains of paradise for that extra something. The aroma is floral with lavender and citrus. The initial flavor when it hits your tongue is a light bready malt with plenty of herbal notes and citrus. It finishes with a somewhat bitter, but refreshing burst of flavor – Stone all the way.
As I thought about what to make with the beer, a few ideas filled my head. Luckily I just wrote an article all about 10 ways to cook with beer, so I’ve been primed with great ideas. Right off the bat, I considered a reduction of Saison and honey, flavored with lemon peel to slather on grilled chicken, though I was worried that the lavender and hops would render the reduction too bitter. I also considered fresh seafood preparations, vinaigrettes and marinades, even desserts!
My friend Dan, you know our chef collaBREWator, and I did some experimenting and found that the beer when reduced really was way too bitter. We quickly realized it was best to leave uncooked, allowing the bright citrus, thyme and lavender to shine.
My favorite preparation was my own lemony Ginger Saison ‘Mignonette.’ A mignonette is a delicious vinegary sauce with shallot and pepper that brightens up fresh, briny oysters on the half shell.
Whenever I make a trip to my hometown of Boston I basically subsist on a diet of seafood and beer. One of my favorite things to do back home is nom on happy hour dollar oysters at Lineage – a fantastic restaurant in my old stomping ground. They always serve the oysters with cocktail sauce and a lovely, simple mignonette.
This recipe is my take on the classic mignonette with plenty of freshly grated ginger, shallot, lemon zest, beer and a touch of vinegar. The ginger works beautifully with the floral lavender, citrus and pepper of the beer. The briny, salty, somewhat creamy oysters contrast and shine through the light bodied beer, while the lemon and pepper in the mignonette echoes the lemon and peppery yeast character in the beer.
Shucking the oysters yourself is a fun and impressive trick – It’s not nearly as hard as you might imagine. Grab yourself an oyster knife (this one from R. Murphy is AMAZING), and get shucking with these great tips from the The Kitch’n.
As we prepare for what I’m sure will be a hot summer, I can’t wait to crack open some fresh oysters with Ginger Saison Mignonette and drink a delicious Stone Saison.
Ginger Saison Oyster Mignonette
- 1 tbsp finely diced shallot
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I used my homemade beer vinegar)
- 1 oz Stone Saison
- 1 tsp finely grated ginger
- 1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I like to use my microplane to get a really nice fine grate for the ginger and the lemon zest)
- Freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Lemon wedges for garnish
Makes enough mignonette for a dozen oysters.
This recipe could not be easier – simply combine ingredients and scoop a lot or a little on top of freshly shucked oysters.
Get yourself some Stone Saison and try this easy, fresh recipe!