Cafe Society

Odell's Myrcenary adds sophistication to tradition when paired with beans and rice

When I dropped out of college for the first, but not last time (which I'm certain my parents are still upset about, and that my dad would be genuinely hurt if I didn't mention geaux Tigers here), I reluctantly moved in with my older sister and her then husband. I was 18 years old, cut-off from home and not entirely sure what to do with myself.

My thirty-something brother-in-law just so happened to be a total redneck, and I won't go into why, but I'm very glad they eventually divorced. The dude did get me a job however, and bought me beer whenever I wanted, and they lived next to a picturesque pond with a boat; so the situation wasn't all that bad. Especially since every Monday like clockwork, old boy made some of the best beans and rice I've ever had.

Mondays were customarily washday down south, and the traditional meal of choice that day was red beans and rice. Supposedly, it was the ideal food for simmering low and slow in a big pot while the women scrubbed clothes. Thankfully, these days, laundry is no longer a gender specific task, nor is cooking. Beans and rice remains a fitting meal when you have full plate though, and not just in the beginning of the week. Any day you choose to do chores is good day for beans and rice.

Such was the case for me the other day. Some friends were coming over for dinner, but the house was a total mess, and I had promised my girlfriend that I'd clean up beforehand. I had work to do as well, and definitely didn't have time to babysit food. So that morning I called up my sister to get her ex-husband's beans and rice recipe that I remembered loving so much. She was understandably a bit surprised, and couldn't recall exactly how he made it, but we managed to piece together a variation.

Her ex-old man and I used to pound copious amounts of unmentionable, cheap beers with our beans and rice back then, and I've since associated the dish with drinking. Of course, these days call for more sophisticated beverages, so while grabbing all the ingredients necessary for the particularly porky recipe at Marczyk Fine Foods, I was pleased to see they carried Myrcenary from Odell Brewing. For some reason, when I think pork, I think IPA's, and the imperial one from Odell is currently my favorite.

The beans and rice turned out to be even better than I remembered, and, I was able to finish all my duties accordingly. And the entire house was filled with a wonderful smell for hours, which was borderline torturous for our dog, but made my chores that much easier to do.

The dish was creamy, fatty and salty with just the right amount of spice, which was playfully contrasted by the citrusy, hoppy double IPA. Myrcenary weighs in hugely at 9.3 percent alcohol by volume, but you wouldn't know it to drink it. It's a balanced beer with tons of fruity hops both in nose and on the palate, and boldly stood up to the rich traditional meal.

Here's the recipe (thanks in part to an old redneck from Mississippi...wherever he is):

2 cans pinto beans, drained (my apologies to the purist who would call for dried red beans, I didn't plan ahead, and I'm not ashamed to admit it) 1/2 pound bacon, chopped 1/2 pound ham, chopped 1/2 pound chorizo, casing removed 1 1/2 pound ham hocks 1 large yellow onion, chopped 3/4 cup chopped celery 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 bay leaves 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped 2 dried chili peppers, finely chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced Salt and pepper to taste 10 cups chicken stock 4 cups cooked white rice

1. In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. 2. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, chopped ham, a pinch each of salt and pepper, cayenne pepper and cook over medium high heat until the vegetables are soft. 3. Add chorizo, ham hocks and garlic, and cook until chorizo starts to brown. 4. Add chicken stock, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and chili peppers, and bring to a boil. 5. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until ham hocks fall off the bone, 3-4 hours. 6. Add pinto beans and cook uncovered until it starts to thicken (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally. 7. Remove bay leaves. 8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 9. Serve over rice.

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Patrick Langlois
Contact: Patrick Langlois