By Gail Oberst
For the Oregon Beer Growler
It’s an oft-repeated tale (at least in my world) that beer created civilization as we know it: Brewers had to stop their hunting for a bit to grow and gather the grains, allow the beer to ferment and then drink it in a warm safe place. Ergo, vessels were built to hold the beer and the kilns to fire them. Buildings were erected to house farmers and brewers. Viola. Civilization.
Whether beer prompted this is arguable, but certainly some form of farro played a role. Farro, an ancient hulled wheat that looks and tastes like meaty barley, is a name applied to several related grains that have been popular in Europe and the Near East since the beginning of recorded time. Protein-rich and chewy, the grain has fed the poorest and the richest of us through the ages. Today, farro is enjoying a comeback.
My introduction to farro was in a “bliss bowl” prepared by Shaun Gumaskas, chef at Coos Bay’s 7 Devils Brewery and Public House (although the actual ceramic bowl in which the food was served was created by co-owner Annie Pollard). Gumaskas attended culinary school, working under Stephane Voitzwinkler at the famous Mister A’s in San Diego. Gumaskas came to Coos Bay to help care for his mother, eventually landing a job with Pollard and her co-owner/brewer/husband Carmen Matthews.
“He’s brilliant, and great at sourcing ingredients locally,” said Pollard. Sauteed farro is an ingredient in the fall bliss bowl. The bliss bowl changes seasonally but in the fall features comforting chunks of local butternut squash, dried cranberries and walnuts with a topping of Greek yogurt. Minus the yogurt, this is a great vegetarian dish, Pollard said.
This dish pairs well with 7 Devils’ Blacklock Oat Porter, a mild, malty oat porter that matches and accentuates the bold spices in the fall bliss bowl, Matthews said. This porter is almost sessionable, at 5.4 percent. The 7 Devils pumpkin beer, to be released in mid-October, will also be a nice pairing with this dish, Matthews suggested.
As an omnivore, I thought 7 Devils’ pot roast dish, with its tender braised beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, celery and gravy, was also a great pair with the Fall Bliss Bowl. My husband and I shared the two dishes, occasionally dumping a bit of farro into the rich gravy.
The pot roast dish is a hearty meal for the fall months — traditional home comfort food with a few interesting additions to kick it up a notch, said Gumaskas. Matthews suggested pairing this dish with 7 Devils’ Groundswell IPA, a beer with enough hop character to cut through the thickness of this hearty dish, but not so bitter that it blows out your tastebuds. Groundswell, 7.2 percent ABV and 70 IBUs, has a bit of back-end bittering, but its fruity hops are what you’ll notice first before you even take a swallow. It’s great with the pot roast dish, refreshing your tongue for the next bite of gravy goodness.
Don’t want to cook? Both of these dishes are on the menu in October at 7 Devils, a great place for families and craft beer drinkers visiting Oregon’s scenic south coast.
Fall Bliss Bowl
Paired with 7 Devils Blacklock Oat Porter
By Chef Shaun Gumaskas
2 cups farro
1 large butternut squash
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
10-12 sage leaves
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 small onion
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3-4 whole bay leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons oil
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
salt, to taste
—Toast walnuts in oven and chop.
—To cook farro, add oil and chopped onion to pot on high heat. Blister onion. Add farro to the pot and toast for 2 minutes. Then add 6 cups of water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, salt and simmer until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
—Drain the farro mixture, save remaining liquid and set aside.
—Chop butternut squash into small cubes. In a large saute pan, melt the butter and chopped sage. Add the butternut squash and maple syrup. Stir lightly. Add salt and clove and cover on high for 5-8 minutes. Strain and cool, saving remaining liquid.
—Add the butternut liquid to the yogurt.
—Saute the farro in a pan on high heat. Once it browns, add 2 tablespoons of the remaining farro water to the pan and boil dry. Reheat butternut squash in oven.
—To serve: Place farro in a bowl, followed by squash, followed by walnuts and cranberries, topped by the yogurt mixture.
Paired with 7 Devils Groundswell IPA
By Chef Shaun Gumaskas
8 pounds chuck roast
1 bunch celery
3 pounds red potatoes
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups flour
oil for searing
1 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup black pepper
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
—Trim fat from roast and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Save trimmings. Coat pieces and trimmings with rub and let sit for a minimum of one hour.
—In large pot, sear beef cubes, then remove and set in baking pan. Cover and bake at 350 F for 2-2 1/2 hours. Strain liquid and use in next step.
—In the same pot, sear beef trimmings until brown, then add red wine and vinegar. Add 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery, the reserved liquid (jus) and add 4 quarts of water. Simmer stock covered for 2 hours. Let cool.
—Remove fat cap from stock and add to another pot. Melt fat and add flour to make a roux. Slowly stir in beef stock over medium heat to finish the gravy. Season to taste.
—Cut remaining carrots, onions, celery and potatoes to your liking and blanch until done.
—Combine beef, gravy and vegetables, and heat to finish.
7 Devils Brewery and Public House
[a] 247 S. 2nd St., Coos Bay
Owners: Annie Pollard, Carmen Matthews
Chef: Shaun Gumaskas
Monthly recipes and pairings from your favorite brewpubs around Oregon.