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Posts Tagged ‘Panama beer’

Grilling in the Highlands of Panama

Written on July 4th, 2011 by corakentno shouts

Living in the high mountains of Panama has lots of advantages, especially when it comes to outdoor grilling. It’s easy to stop by the fresh, open markets, then fire up the gas grill, and prepare the best backyard meals imaginable anywhere in the world.

My shopping list is short, a whole chicken or rack of baby-back ribs, whatever fresh vegetables are plentiful, and a pineapple.

The weather is always pleasant for firing your grill, even if it’s a rainy day, because the temperature is usually just right, about 72 degrees in the late afternoon. A 5-dollar gas tank will last for months of grilling, and they’re available at almost every mini-market in Panama.

Our favorite meat to grill is chicken, it never fails to please everyone. Chicken is low in calories, high in nutritional value, and very reasonable in Panama, as everyone knows. David loves to buy a can or two of Panama beer, punch holes in it along the top rim and perch the whole chicken atop of it. It cooks in about an hour on the closed grill, just in time to have your vegetables grilled and ready to eat.

The vegetables can be pre-cut and ready to toss in a grill pan.  Any kind of vegetable can be sliced thinly, tossed in a bit of olive oil and your special blend of herbs and set above the flames. Each time you glance into the grill, give the vegetables a little stir. The top photo shows our favorite grilling pan to use for any small ingredients. They cook slowly and never fall on the flames.

Dessert is easy when you’re grilling in the Highlands of Panama. Just slice off the bottom of a juicy, fresh pineapple and stand it on end. Holding the green top, slice off the skin from top to bottom. Divide in half from top to bottom and lay on cut side. Slice lengthwise again into quarters and remove the core.   Cut each quarter into 2 or 3 long pieces, depending on the size of your pineapple. Lay the long pieces on the hot grate after you remove the chicken. Wait for grill marks to appear, then turn over to brown.

You will have a luscious, grilled finish to your fresh, healthy and tasty dinner. Boquete Gourmet Host Chef, Greg Henry, on, inserted a skewer into the ends of his spears of grilled pineapple and placed them on a dessert plate with a small dish of dipping sauce similar to Dulce de Leche.

The sauce is easy to make the day before your dinner. Simply boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for about an hour and a half. When you’re ready to serve your pineapple, open the can and fill small dishes with your “homemade” Dulce de Leche sauce.  You may need to thin it with a bit of white wine.  Shave chocolate or sprinkle coconut flakes over your pineapple and serve.

You can enjoy this spectacular grilled dinner wherever you are, but it’s especially good when you’re in the Highlands of Panama!


What’s a Black and Tan?

Written on April 24th, 2011 by corakentno shouts

Many years ago, I was sitting at a pub in Dublin, Ireland watching the bartender pour the most amazing drink for a very happy patron, a Black and Tan. It was made by selecting a clear glass beer mug, a turtle-shaped metal spoon, 2 types of beer and a steady hand. This is a photo of my Black and Tan, which tasted even better than it looks.

The drink ended up to be a 4-layered, gorgeous golden and brown concoction of the most yummy beer you could imagine. The 2 types of beer include a light-colored ale of any brand you like, and the second layer of dark beer must be a Guiness stout, not Extra Stout.
The “layering” of Guinness on top of the ale or lager is possible because the relative density of the Guinness is less than that of the ale or lager.

To prepare a Black and Tan, first fill a glass halfway with the ale, then add the Guinness Draught (from the can, bottle, or tap). The top layer is best poured slowly over an upside-down tablespoon placed over the glass to avoid splashing and mixing the layers. A specially designed Black-and-Tan spoon is bent in the middle so that it can balance on the edge of the pint-glass for easier pouring. I bought a turtle-shaped spoon from Amazon, which works perfectly!

According to Wikipedia, a pint of Guinness should be served in a slightly tulip shaped pint-size glass. In the case of pouring a Black and Tan, fill about half the glass with an ale or lager and let it rest until the initial pour settles. Then, the remainder of the glass is filled with a slow pour over an upside-down spoon until the head forms a slight dome over the top edge of the glass. The bartender scraped off this dome of foam with a straight knife, which surprised me.

If you’d like to learn a bit more precisely how to pour a glass of Guiness, you’ll find detailed instructions on Wikipedia.

I found it interesting that if you like Guiness alone, canned Guinness should be poured slowly into a large glass in one smooth action, while bottled Guinness should be drunk straight from the bottle. I prefer my Panama or Balboa beer drunk straight from the cold bottle as well.

Last week, I visited a busy “World of Beer” location in St. Petersburg, Florida. The bartender poured me a Black and Tan using Victory Headwaters Pale Ale and she topped it with Guiness stout. It was as tasty as it looks, especially served in the basketball-style glass designed by the Victory Brewery.

A couple visitors to the bar loved hearing about my life in Boquete and the cuisine offered there. They would really like to visit us some day soon, as living in Boquete is truly living in paradise. To taste Boquete cuisine, The Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook is now available to be shipped anywhere in the world. See opportunity to order it on the right.

Everyone at “World of Beer” enjoyed watching Angela pour my Black and Tan, it was a treat to remember.

Try to pour a Black and Tan yourself, you’ll love it!

Fine Boquete Jazz Festival Fare

Written on February 21st, 2011 by corakent2 shouts

This is the week so many folks in Boquete have been waiting for - BOQUETE’S 5th ANNUAL JAZZ FESTIVAL!

Jazz musicians from Canada, United States and Panama will gather at the BCP Theater in central Boquete to present three days of world-class musical entertainment. Band members will be hosted in Boquete by local residents and hotels throughout the area, and all their meals will be provided for them during their visit.

I, as the “Boquete Gourmet”, just had to get involved with providing a “Welcome Dinner” and a couple of the lunches during their visit. What to serve such distinguished guests would be an interesting project for me.

The first dinner would need to be prepared by our local tamale chef, Betty Rivera. Betty’s tamales are the best typical Panamanian dish that any visitor to Boquete could hope to enjoy. Betty contributed her “famous” recipe to the “Boquete Gourmet Community Cookbook” and it’s one of the recipes that takes a complete page to describe.

Notice that Betty’s tamale is wrapped in banana leaves, not corn husks. These tamales take 24 hours to make from dried corn pieces, not an easy project for Betty. When the diner opens the leaves, a lovely soft block of cooked corn meal and chicken appears, just right to be covered with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, chopped apples, cole slaw and any number of the many flavors of hot sauces available in Boquete.

Tamales are the most popular dish to serve in Boquete at any meal time, it’s typical Panamanian style cooking, just exactly right for these very talented jazz musicians from Canada. For dessert, I’ll make up a big batch of Snickerdoodles, easy to grab and run to their next performance.

I’d better have lots of cold Panama beer on hand for them as well, don’t you think? Talk about fine Boquete Jazz Festival Fare!

Enjoy the festival!

Can Beer-Can Chicken Be Gourmet?

Written on February 13th, 2010 by corakent2 shouts

This is a good question - -  if you stick a chicken on a cheap can of beer, stand it up in your gas grill and simply let it cook, would it make a “gourmet” entree for tonight’s dinner?  With a little “tweaking” to that idea, I think so!

If a special blend of rub or marinade is allowed to permeate the freshest chicken available, and holes are punched all around the top and sides of a can of good beer so the bird steams gently as it cooks, the result could be the finest, truly “gourmet beer-can chicken”, if not the very best chicken dish ever! Chickens are raised near Boquete, so we get the freshest chickens delivered to our markets every day.

Just look at the golden brown, beautifully rich and shining color on my birds. The even coating of my special “Bella Poultry Herb” mix brings out the glistening juiciness and flavor of the meat. You can blend you own mix to suit your taste.

Here’s my recipe for Real Gourmet Beer-Can Chicken.

1 whole chicken, cleaned of fat
4 tablespoons your own special poultry herb blend (see my “Bella Poultry Herbs” recipe below)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt to taste
1 can of your favorite beer, mine is our local Panama beer

Clean, wash and dry the freshest chicken available, rub it inside and out with poultry herb blend and place in a plastic bag to marinate in the refrigerator all day, overnight would be fine. Open a can of beer and drink about 1/3 of it. Punch 6 wholes in the can around the top sides with a “church key” type opener. Drop the crushed garlic into the beer can. Place the chicken, open end down, over the can so that he sits up with his feet set to make a tripod. Set the chicken over medium heat on the top of a barbecue grill, gas or charcoal, close the cover and cook for 1 hour, or until the bird turns golden brown, 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Using large tongs, lift the bird off the grill while using a turner to support the beer can from the bottom. Rest 5 minutes. Hold the beer can with a hot pad and lift the chicken off his perch with tongs. Carve and serve.

This is how I blended the herbs for Bella Poultry Herbs

2 tablespoons sage
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons rosemary
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon white pepper, ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Place these herbs in a mortar and mull with a pestle until the mix is a fine consistency, which may take several minutes.  You could use a mini-food processor, but you’d miss the enjoyment of grinding it yourself.  Keep your mix in a screw-cap bottle always ready for handy use.

If you or your guests want to get creative, have a wooden spoon and marker available for some artistic fun.

If you are a connoisseur or lover of good food, drink and good fun, this beautiful, luscious chicken is truly a gourmet’s delight.

I served these birds with a juicy potato salad and red Caprese-style tomatoes layered with mozzarella cheese slices and lots of big, fresh basil leaves, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. We enjoyed a bottle of Septima Vineyard Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 wine from Argentina, which completed this delectable dinner with friends.

What a lovely evening!

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