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Four Course Memorial Day Challenge, Part I

Not too long ago, I had my good friend, Local Hy-Vee stores‘ Chef Marty Lowry, on my show to discuss food and beer pairing.  We’ve done this a few times together, but this time we started discussing how beer and food pairing is inherently subjective and open to interpretation.

While there is science involved in pairing food with beer, it is largely an art form.  As such, we decided to illustrate this concept by holding an experiment where we would have two people independently develop a menu based on a four-beer selection I make.

First, however, we needed another person.  For that other menu, Marty and I decided to turn to food blogger and amateur chef Frank Reiter of Frank about Food.

Once Frank agreed (it did not take any arm-twisting, I assure you), I decided the challenge would be to pair the four beers I chose with a Memorial Day grilling theme.

I will post one beer with one course from each participant each day for the rest of the week.  For each course, comment with which one you like best.  We’d like to know which approach you think works best.

Next week, we’ll tally up the comments voting for each one and announce the winner by round.  It’s not really a competition,  but I think it will be interesting to see how it pans out.

Beer #1: Springfield Brewing Company 11 Point Pilsner

Frank says:

For this appetizer course, I have selected chicken satay with a spicy peanut sauce to pair with the Springfield Brewing Company 11 Point Pilsner. The carbonation and light character of the 11 Point Pilsner is perfect for summer grilling. The carbonation will help amp up a little bit of the spice in the dish, but is refreshing enough to also soothe and cleanse the palate in between bites. Summer grilling just cries out for a great German Pilsner, and this start to the menu is no exception.

Marty says:

First course is Grilled Antipasta with White Balsamic Reduction. My menu is “eclectic;” rather than follow one style, I want to focus on the grill theme, the patio setting, etc.

My vision of this appetizer course starts off light-bodied, like our beer selection. We have a selection of savory and naturally sweet flavors, a touch of salt, and plenty of smoke! I believe the pilsner will prove to be both light enough to be a good accompaniment for the food, as well as provide refreshment to the palate with each sip.

Frank About Food’s Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce Recipe:

Satay Chicken:
1 – 2 lb chicken breast or thigh meat
1 C plain yogurt
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tblsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tblsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Bamboo skewers, soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes
Oil for grilling grate

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
1 C peanut butter, your preference of chunky or smooth
¼ C soy sauce
3 tsp red chili paste (Sambal, for example)
2 Tblsp dark brown sugar
Juice of 2 limes
½ C hot water
Chopped peanuts, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cayenne, and cilantro in a shallow bowl or dish.
  2. Slice the boneless chicken meat into long strips. Gently pound each strip to flatten it slightly.
  3. Place chicken strips into the dish of marinade, ensuring all surfaces are well coated, and chicken is submerged. Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours for best results.
  4. While the chicken is in the marinade, prepare the spicy peanut sauce. Combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, lime juice in a small food processor bowl. While pulsing, slowly add the hot water to thin the mixture, adding only what is needed to reach desired consistency. Place sauce in a small dish to serve alongside the chicken satay. Garnish with the peanuts and cilantro.
  5. Remove the chicken strips and shake off excess marinade. Thread each strip onto a soaked skewer, working in and out of the meat, to keep it in place while grilling.
  6. Brush the grilling grate with the oil to prevent sticking, while cooking.
  7. Grill the chicken skewers over medium flame, for approximately 3 minutes per side.
  8. Serve with spicy peanut sauce.

Chef Marty’s Grilled Antipasta and White Balsamic Reduction Recipe:


1x Eggplant, peeled, sliced about ½ inch thick
3x Bell Peppers, cleaned and cut into large slices. Select different colors of peppers if you like
2-3x Portabella Mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
2-3x Zucchini and Yellow Squash, cut around the core to obtain large colored slices
2x Tomatoes, large beefsteak type, sliced about ½ inch thick
2-3 Tb Thyme, chopped
2-3 Tb Shallot, very small diced

Reduction Ingredients:
1 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tb Sugar


  1. Make the reduction. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Allow this to simmer until it is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2. Cool and store.
  2. Process all of the fruits and vegetables. Coat them with a bit of oil, and sprinkle the thyme, shallots, and salt over them. If you have any of this seasoned oil left over, you can drizzle the fresh mixture over the grilled food for service.
  3. Grill the fruits and vegetables, minding the different cooking needs of each item. The mushrooms will probably want to be marked on high heat, and moved to indirect heat to finish, but the squash and zucchini will probably finish very quickly.
  4. After grilling, allow the food to rest for a moment, and then slice and plate for service. Finish with a drizzle of your white balsamic reduction and any of the seasoned oil mixture you may have left over.

So, that’s the first course.  Who wins this round?  Comment with your vote below and let’s see who wins the grilling challenge.

Related posts:
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

19 thoughts on “Four Course Memorial Day Challenge, Part I”

  1. I would just as well devour Frank’s dish as a plate of hot wings if a cool Pilsner is there to spot me. Point for Frank.

  2. I’d take the spicy bite if the peanut sauce over the vinegar and sugar of the antipasto. I think that would pair better with the spicy hops of a pilsner. I’m going with Frank on this one.

  3. Doh! I guess I forgot to explain my pairing :/ here goes…

    My vision of this appetizer course starts off light-bodied, like our beer selection. We have a selection of savory and naturally sweet flavors, a touch of salt, and plenty of smoke! I believe the pilsner will prove to be both light enough to be a good accompaniment for the food, as well as provide refreshment to the palate with each sip.

  4. I have to go with Marty on this one. The the lighter, sweet quality of the reduction with the smoky quality of the grill is a great pairing.

  5. Everything about the chicken satay/pilsner pairing appeals to me. This dish just might replace what I was originally planning on making for Memorial Day! Point to Frank.

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