Getting your hands on a can of Heady Topper is almost as difficult as finding a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. This world-class American Double IPA comes from The Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont. And it’s not exported.
They ran out of it at the Emmy’s, causing a media uproar. And bartenders have been known to give free drinks all night for just a taste of this potent brew (8% alcohol content). Luckily, I’m well-connected and managed to score two for the Super Bowl (only a few less than the points the Broncos put on the board).
The warning: “DRINK FROM THE CAN!” is written around the top, with further instructions on the back, to ensure that you don’t lose out on the full flavor and aroma with air exposure. So I did that for a few sips of intense, hoppy enjoyment. But then poured some in a glass anyway so you could see the hazy, golden amber hue. And yes, I could taste the difference. The promise of citrus and balanced bitterness didn’t disappoint either way, but there were less citrus notes filling the glass.
Can I say that I’d lose my head over it? Not really. I’m not a beer connoisseur, so the complexity was a little lost on me. (To be fair: when I came into possession of this hot commodity, I cautioned my source that I might be unworthy.) But, of course, I’ll gladly take any cans that fall into my lap.
And nothing goes better with an epic beer than some famous Pok Pok style wings.
So I continued my experiments from last year’s Super Bowl. This time I was armed with the new Pok Pok cookbook and some more experience with cooking sous vide. Plus the replacement machine that broke when I made 72 hour short ribs arrived ahead of the promised backorder ship date!
So I marinated all the wings in the recipe from Pok Pok — for 5 plus hours in the frig. Then I took 12 of them and placed them in a vacuum sealed bag in a water bath of 155 degrees for one hour. This was the end of the temperature range for medium well wings. Last time, I didn’t have a vacuum sealer, and I cooked them at 148. A little too pink. Plus, I wasn’t going for the epitome of moist, just cooked enough. Then I let them dry for an hour in the frig. Next I fried them in a little oil in a wok on high for a few minutes until they browned.
For another batch, I tossed them in a combo of equal parts potato starch and Wondra, suggested by MC. Then I fried them in some previously used corn oil in the wok at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes — until they were nicely browned. Next I drained them on paper towels, and then tossed them back in the fryer with the Pok Pok finishing sauce that includes fried garlic. They were sticky, sweet, salty and spicy. Delicious!
I finished some more in a sauce of blue cheese and hot sauce. Both went great with the beer. But next time, I’m not bothering to sous vide. It’s a time-consuming, extra step that makes it harder to get the wings crispy.