Chris is brewing beer today and as home brewing rules dictate, while one tends to the boil, one must be sipping on a beer. While one is sipping on a beer, one often wants a snack. Chris is making us a Belgian tripel, one of my most favorite styles, so to return the favor I made him Pecorino Romano crisps, opened him a Snow Drop and helped him with the mash tun. Then I had a 3 Golden Hairs.
I like making these crisps (today with rosemary and hot honey) because they require close to zero effort and deliver one hundred percent crispy, cheesy satisfaction.
Let me tell you about Snow Drop and 3 Golden Hairs first. They are very similar overall, but I can never make up my mind as to which one I prefer. It has been three years now and I am still not sure. Kind of a “the best beer is the one in front of me” situation.
Both of them are lagers. Both are brewed by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse in Loveland, CO – not too far from our house. Before we could purchase cans we frequently went to the Grimm Brothers taproom to get growlers. As the brewery’s name suggests, they make beers modeled after the traditional German and European styles, but are not shy to modernize old recipes and introduce popular American hops.
Both beers are very clear, crisp and refreshing. 3 Golden Hairs is a Bohemian style Pilsner with ABV 4.6% and IBU 40. It is brewed with Pilsner malt and Saaz noble hops, hence it is very true to the roots of this style originally brewed in Pilsen (in today’s Czech Republic). It is darker in color than Snow Drop. Otherwise both pour with fine and persistent effervescence and retain fine white heads. What I love most about 3 Golden Hairs is the unmistakable flavor of the noble hops – slightly spicy, herbal with a refreshing bitterness. It most enthusiastically agrees with a cheese like Pecorino Romano, and the addition of hot honey and rosemary to the flavor mix is simply genius, if I say so myself.
On the other hand, Snow Drop. What a beer. Malted wheat added to the grain bill and also some honey and molasses. Tastefully, but resulting in an ABV of 7.1%. Even though IBU is only 10, there is a pronounced muted bitterness from the same noble hops. It confidently coexists with the balanced honey-molasses sweetness. Amazing aroma, which to this day I lack words to describe, because it is so faint and fleeting. So I will quote Francis Thompson – “The fairest things have fleetest end, their scent survives their close”. By fairest, he meant most amazing, I am pretty sure.
Now on to the Pecorino Romano crisps with rosemary and hot honey. To make them you need just that – Pecorino Romano, rosemary and hot honey. Go for an actual wedge of cheese and grate it yourself. Pecorino Romano is a sheep’s milk cheese. Pecora means sheep in Italian, Romano is in the name because the cheese was first made in the province of Rome. You can find just the cheese I used at your friendly neighborhood Trader Joe’s.
Mince the fresh rosemary very, very fine and use your favorite hot honey. Ours is Mike’s, even though we have never met the man, he lives on the East Coast.
Once you grate the cheese, mix it well with the minced rosemary and create small heaps with the mix onto a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet. A half a pound wedge can yield anywhere between 18 and 22 crisps, depending on how big the heaps are. If you want thicker, cheesier crisps, make bigger heaps (1 and 1/2 tbsp). If you want really thin and crunchy crisps, make smaller heaps, about 1 tbsp each, but also keep in the 400°F oven for less time so you do not burn them. If you know your oven to be too hot, try 375°F instead.
Once you let them cool off a little bit, drizzle the hot honey and have your beer at the ready. These make the perfect pairing for Pilsners!
Recipe for Pecorino Romano Crisps
- 1 wedge of Pecorino Romano cheese (about ½ lb).
- 1 heaping tsp of fresh rosemary, minced very fine
- 1 tbsp hot honey
- Grate the cheese on the large teeth of a box grater.
- Mix with the finely minced fresh rosemary.
- Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper or appropriately sized Silpats.
- Make heaps, about 1 tbsp - 1½ tbsp large and about 2 inches apart. Do not press on the cheese.
- If you want thinner crisps, use less cheese per heap. If you want more substantial, thicker crisps, use 1½ tbsp per heap.
- Bake in a 400°F oven for 3-5 minutes until crisps are golden. Less time for thinner version, longer for thicker crisps.
- Let crisps cool off and drizzle with hot honey.