Guinness Dinner with Jeff Mauro

When I got an invite to a recent pairing dinner I was really excited. The beers that would be paired were all Guinness brews and all of the recipes would be coming from Jeff "Sandwich King" Mauro. I had interviewed Mauro several years ago about one of his television shows on the Food Network. It was by phone, but still he came across as such a down-to-earth and genuine guy who was so passionate about food. He also gets bonus points for being a Chicago guy.

When we arrived we sipped on Guinness beers. I had a blonde while others had Guinness draught. 

As the dinner got underway, Mauro introduced each of the four courses adding in a bit of humor and some fun stories. 

Here's a little shot of that article I wrote about him several years back for the Northwest Indiana Times' food section when his show $24 in 24 debuted. 

Course one of our dinner was Mashed Potatoes Croquettes with Beer Cheese Dipping Sauce. Yes, beer cheese dipping sauce! Need I say more? Inside those lovely fried balls of goodness was colcannon, an Irish dish that I adore. The sauce was insane. We had this paired with Guinness Draught.

Course two was an Irish Soda Bread Club Sandwich paired with Guinness Extra Stout. The bread was griddled to perfection and filled with smoked turkey with sage derby cheese, tomato, shredded lettuce, mustard and crispy rashers. I could eat this every day of the week.

Mauro is such a likeable guy. I've been to several similar events where celebrity chefs or other guests make their appearance and don't really interact beyond the introductions or photo opps. Mauro was like a groom at a big Italian wedding - he made his way from table to table and talked with everyone. He did this not once, but between every course. And he listened and smiled and had genuine conversations with groups at each table.

Ok, by course three, I was filling up, but wasn't going down without a good effort to dig into each dish. A Beef & Guinness Deconstructed Stew with Bacon & JalapeƱo Dumplings was next up. The Guinness-braised chuck melted in your mouth and provided quite a kick to your taste buds. It was paired with Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. It's a popular brew in African and Asian countries especially.

The finish was a scrumptious Guinness Irish Apple & Cinnamon Crumble with Cream Sauce that was paired with a very limited release barrel-aged brew. A Guinness rep let us know that we were some of the first (and only) people in the world to try it. This stout was brewed in Ireland and aged at their new facility in Baltimore. It was aged in Bulliet bourbon barrels.

Should you happen across it in an area liquor store, grab it. Only 3,000 cases were made. I can't tell you how happy I was to spot it at a local liquor store. Unfortunately, the two four-packs we got won't last long - and while I contemplated giving some away as Christmas gifts to some beer-loving relatives, I am really not sure if it will make it 'til Christmas. I might have to just be a bit selfish this time and buy an alternate beer to give as a gift. :) 

I saw several foodie and influencer friends at the event and met some new ones, as well. 'Twas a good night with good company, amazing food and outstanding beer.