by Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff

This week in a suddenly very important game, the Patriots move from fish to cats. Fun fact – the Panthers logo is a Thundercatized version of the Patriots logo. Panthro to be exact.

What to eat?

In the Carolinas, pork is the choice of meat. Sauce varies through the between the 2 states and within the states themselves. In North Carolina they go with a vinegar and pepper sauce. In South Carolina it’s a mustard based sauce.

The Panthers are based in Charlotte, NC but they claim both Carolinas as their home region. So we’re going with more of a South Carolina flavored pork.

To be really authentic we’d BBQ the pork, smoking it for about 6 hours. But we don’t have that kind of time, instead we’ll grill a pork tenderloin.

Carolina pork (serves 6)


1 cup yellow deli mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons black pepper

Mix all ingredients until brown sugar melts in.

2 to 2.5 pound pork tenderloin

Marinate pork loin for at least 2 hours, 4 hours would be better. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for use as a baste. Grill the tenderloin for 20 minutes over medium-high (350 degree) heat. For the last 5 minutes baste with extra sauce.

What to drink?

I’m not sure how the Patriots are going to do in December. But I do know 2 things: Christmas shopping is dangerous and beer is good .

Avoid long lines, noisy crowds, and H1N1 infected kids waiting for pictures with Santa Claus, do all of your shopping at your friendly neighborhood liquor store. You don’t have to worry about sizes, or if the recipient already has an item. Best of all – if you decide not to give the beer away you can drink it.

Try that with a sweater.

Believe it or not, there are better presents than beer. More beer is better than less beer. A variety of beer is better than one kind of beer. Beer packed with free stuff like glasses is better than beer without free stuff.

Many breweries have caught on to these important rules, and put out gift and mix packs for the Holiday season. Belgium is the top source for these packs, every brewery in Belgium produces a unique glass for it’s beers. The glass and a few high priced bottles of beer combined into a reasonably priced package make for a natural pair.

Duvel has a pack containing 4 bottles of Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale along with a branded snifter glass. It costs about $20.

Chimay boxes up bottles of all three of their beers White (Belgian Tripel), Red (Belgian Dubbel) and Blue (Belgian Dark Strong Ale) along with a branded goblet glass. It’s also about $20.

Otter Creek is being sold to Long Trail, but in the meantime they have a 3 beer gift pack available. It has three 22 ounce bottles of Russian Imperial Stout, Imperial IPA, and Quercus Vitis Humulus a 12% ABV Barleywine brewed with grapes and aged in oak barrels. The pack also contains a special glass. This goes for about $25.

Ommegang also goes with the three beer and a special glass gift pack. There pack contains 750 ml bottles of Chocolate Indulgence Belgian Chocolate Stout, Three Philosophers Belgian Quadruple, and Hennepin Saison. The pack is a $25-$30 item.

The three beers and a glass theme continues with Samuel Smith. They include three 500 ml bottles (slightly over a pint) of Nut Brown Ale, India Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout. Sam Smith also includes a couple of coasters in the box. This pack is cheaper than most at about $15.

Corsendonk makes their pack twice as good. 6 bottles of Corsendonk Christmas Ale, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale like the Chimay Blue. Along with a branded glass. This is another $20 pack.

Lindemans puts out a 2 pack with a glass. 750ml bottles of Framboise (raspberry) and Pomme (apple) lambics. Lindemans produces the sweetest lambics amoung traditional producers. This pack should be around for a bit under $20.

Saint Bernardus puts out a very nice gift pack. Pater 6, Prior 8, Abbot 12 and Tripel with a Goblet glass. The numbers refer to an obsolete measurement of alcohol strength. Pater is a 6.7% Dubbel, Prior is a 8% Dubbel, Abbot is a 10.5% Quadruple and Triple is a 7.5% Triple. This pack should be just under $20.

Weihenstephan puts out a pack including 5 500ml beers and a large glass. The beers are marked on the top and will include 5 out of Orignal Lager, Dark Lager, Korbinian Dopplebock, Hefeweizen, Kristalweizen, Vitus Weizenbock, Dunkel Hefeweizen, Pilsner and Tradition. If you see a box with a combination of Korbinian, Vitus, Dark, and Tradition pick it up. This is another pack right at the magic $20 limit.

There are also plenty of mix packs available this winter. They may lack some of the freebies found in the packs above, but these are great choices for keeping in the house or bringing to parties. Usually these packs have some very good beers, some good beers, and some beers that fall flat or just don’t make sense. Here’s the beers to keep for yourself, and those to give away to company. Tis’ the season after all.

Saranac 12 beers of winter: 6 beers, 2 bottles of each. Winter Lager, Black Lager, Rye IPA, Big Moose Ale, Maple Porter, Belgian Ale.

Keep for yourself: Big Moose Ale

Give to company: Belgian Ale

Sam Adams Winter Classics 12 pack: 6 beers, 2 bottles of each. Boston Lager, Holiday Porter, Coastal Wheat, Old Fezziwig, Winter Lager, Cranberry Lambic.

Keep for yourself: Old Fezziwig

Give to company: Cranberry Lambic

Harpoon Wintry Mix 12 pack: 6 beers, 2 bottles of each. Winter Warmer, UFO hefeweizen, IPA, Chocolate Stout, Munich Dark, UFO Pale Ale.

Keep for yourself: Munich Dark is a year round favorite but Chocolate Stout is only available now.

Give to company: UFO, hefeweizens are better when it isn’t snowing.

Magic Hat Feast of Fools 12 pack: 4 beers, 3 bottles of each. Lucky Kat IPA, Howl black winter lager, #9, Odd Notion Winter ’09 Sour Ale.

Keep for yourself: Howl

Give to company: Odd Notion ’09

Long Trail Winter Survival Pack 12 pack: 4 beers, 3 bottles of each. IPA, Ale, Blackberry Wheat, Hibernator Scotch Ale.

Keep for yourself: Hibernator, malty scotch ale goes great with cold weather.

Give to company: Blackberry Wheat, a summer beer if there ever was one.

Gritty McDuff’s Mix 12 pack: 4 beers, 3 bottles of each. Beers vary and are marked on the top. Look for ones with Christmas Ale and 21 IPA.

Keep for yourself: 21 IPA, the big ticket item this beer only comes in 4 packs for about $10, a mix 12 pack with 3 is a good deal.

Give to company: Pub Style, a nice beer, but you can get it 365 days of the year