We’ve had quite a few Conundra which discuss, broadly, what beer pairs well with (thing that’s not beer). Taking that to the next level, Brother Barley recently reminded me that not only does beer pair brilliantly with food, but it can also be a great addition to many recipes. In fact, I’ve had beer-food recipes at one point or another for every meal of the day (mmm, beer waffles). Since the Aleheads are always trying to find ways to include more beer into our lives, I thought this might be a good opportunity for some brainstorming and/or recipe sharing. So boys, tell us what your favorite beer-involved food recipe is.
I think our readers would probably like to have both the recipe suggestion and a good example of the appropriate beer style(s) you will be incorporating.
Oh, and you can’t go with deep-fried beer, as the patent for that is already pending.
The only thing better than beer and food is beer and beer. So why not make the former approximate the latter by cooking with some suds?
Let me be perfectly honest here…I’m not much of a cook. I’m pragmatic in the kitchen. I know my limitations and I tend to stay within them. I’m not particularly creative when it comes to tweaking recipes and since I hate cleaning dishes, I prefer “one-pot” recipes.
As such, my favorite kitchen gadget by FAR is the slow cooker. This probably hearkens back to my early years when some of my favorite recipes were prepared in the ancient, red Crockpot that Mama McHops would set on the counter in the morning before I trekked off to school. Mama McHops is a spectacular cook (I know most men claim that about their mothers, but the other Aleheads can back me on this one). But she also worked full time when I was a wee lad (still does, actually) which didn’t allow her to cook any dishes that traditionally required hours of long braising or slow-roasting. That’s where the Crockpot came in. Brisket? Corned Beef? Chili? No worries…the Crockpot took care of it. I can still remember coming home after school and smelling those rich, savory aromas in the house and knowing that there was going to be some good eatin’ that night.
A slow cooker is one of those wedding presents everyone receives (like a chafing dish or a cheese tray) that you store in the back of a kitchen cabinet and never use, right? Not in the McHops house! We probably use the slow cooker once or twice a week. I think Wifey and I have gone through three of them over the past few years. We love the thing and we’ve found some great recipes that take advantage of the appliance’s incredible ability to make any cut of meat fork-tender and delicious. The slow cooker has its limitations, of course (just try cooking fish in there and you’ll see). But for busy folks who like to be able to prepare a meal early in the day and have it ready on time, it’s a life-saver.
Hearkening back to Mama McHops’s recipes of old, I’m submitting a Beer-Braised Brisket recipe that is impossibly easy and exceptionally delicious. You can use any dark, sweet beer in this recipe, but I suspect that Beerford would prefer we actually specify a particular brew. My style of choice would be a sweet, malty, strong Scotch Ale. Any of the less peaty options from my Top Ten list would suffice, but for my money, the Oskar Blues Old Chub would serve the best in this preparation. It’ll complement the star of the show (the brisket) without overpowering it. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Beer-Braised Brisket
1 can of Oskar Blues Old Chub
¾ cup of beef stock
2 tbsps. of Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. of prepared horseradish
4 onions, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ tsp. of fresh ground pepper
4 lbs. of beef brisket pot roast
¼ cup of all-purpose flour
In a slow cooker, combine the beer, beef stock, mustard, horseradish, onions, garlic and pepper while drinking a beer.
Add the brisket, submerging completely, and cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours. Drink more beer while watching an entire season of The Wire.
Transfer the brisket to a cutting board: tent with foil and let it stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Drink a beer while letting it stand.
Meanwhile, skim off the fat from the juices and in a small bowl, whisk the flour with a ¼ cup (50 ml) of water then whisk into the slow cooker. Admire your coagulating gravy while sipping on a beer.
Increase the heat to high and cook till it’s thickened. Liberally ladle sauce onto sliced brisket. Celebrate your culinary prowess with a beer.
Serve with fresh, crusty bread and lots of beer.
I was happy to see this conundrum topic come up, because I really enjoy cooking, and have been experimenting with multiple beer-cooking variants as of late. I could share a dynamite brown ale and rosemary stew recipe, but that’s probably fairly close to what people expect from “cooking with beer,” along with the ubiquitous beer-battered fish ‘n chips.
I have a more creative dish–a little something that I like to call Farmhouse Shrimp Scampi.
Belgo/French beer probably doesn’t get used for quite as many recipes, but it certainly has its place, and I find it works especially well with seafood. By tweaking a basic scampi recipe, you can add a spicy Belgian twist to a dish that everybody already likes. For the purposes of naming a specific brew as Brother Barley did, I’ll just say that I used New Holland’s Golden Cap Saison last time I made the dish, but you can use any saison you want in order to keep the “farmhouse” name.
Farmhouse Shrimp Scampi
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons melted butter
2-3 oz lemon juice
3 tablespoons shallots, finely minced (spring for the shallots, they’re so good here.)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
3-4 oz beer
1-2 pounds of raw shrimp, or really just however much shrimp you want.
a tiny, tiny pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper
Combine the oil and butter in a nonstick pan, and saute the shallots (with salt and pepper) until softening. Add the garlic and saute until it starts to brown.
At this point, add the lemon juice, saison, pepper flakes, and shrimp, and bring up to a simmer. The shrimp will only take a few minutes on each side, until pink.
Serve on pasta or rice (I like brown rice), and then pour the reduced liquid (you can reduce it more if you like) over it before eating. If you haven’t already, drink the rest of the saison. More accurately, crack a new saison for the meal.
Unlike the other Aleheads so far, I chose a recipe that not only involves beer, it involves a whole brewery. By far, the best beer-based food (besides beer on its own) I have sampled is the Cheddar Ale Soup made by our good friends at the Free State Brewery in Lawrence, KS.
Now it is unlikely that folks outside of KS or MO have heard of this establishment, since Free State currently only distributed in these two states. And you wouldn’t expect good suds coming one of the eight states that hasn’t ratified the 21st amendment, and only ended state prohibition during the Regan Administration. But you would be wrong.
There are several key ingredients that set this soup apart from ho hum cheese soups. First is the combination of all the peppers, garlic, and onions. Also important is the wonderful fat content, with both cream cheese and heavy cream in the recipe.
I haven’t actually made this soup, since I can just go down the street and have it served to me with fresh baked bread and a draft. But thanks to Google, I found it:
Cheddar Ale Soup
3 tablespoons salted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1/4 cup small diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup small diced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Free State Ad Astra ale
3 ounces cream cheese
3 cups cream
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
Fresh parsley and thyme to taste
6 ounces grated Alma white or yellow cheddar cheese
In 1 tablespoon butter, cook onion, peppers and garlic until onion is transparent. Add remaining butter and flour, stir well and cook mixture on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add beer in small increments, mixing smooth after each addition. Cut cream cheese into smaller chunks and add to mixture. Mash and stir cream cheese until it is completely melted into mixture. Gradually add cream to mixture, mixing smooth after each addition. You may want to use a whisk at this point. Add seasonings, stir and heat to 160 degrees, being careful not to heat beyond this temperature. Add cheese in three increments stirring smooth with a whisk after each addition. If cheese is not melting after 30 seconds, check temperature and add heat if necessary. If soup is thin, add more cheese. If soup is thick, add milk. Serves 6-8.
Now the soup calls for Free States popular session Ad Astra Ale, but my guess is a brown ale would be a good substitute. As for parings, you may as well stick with the Ad Astra if you can get it, but I’ve also found it pairs well with APA, IPA, Rye IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Porter, Dry Stout, Imperial Stout, Barleywine, Brown Ale, or pretty much anything else I have in my hand.
I positively love to cook. I’m enamored by all the little intricacies of each and every ingredient and the subtle flavors that you can extract from just the slightest adjustment anywhere along the cooking process. Now that I think about it, I enjoy cooking for the very same reason that I enjoy home brewing. A little tweak in the malt bill here, a brain fart there where maybe you forget a late-hop addition and completely change the profile of your beer, there’s so many ways to mess with a home brew and still come out with an enjoyable beer. From some people (Ahem, my wife), I’m sure there are many frustrations in cooking where the end result isn’t quite what you planned. For me, I just care that the end result tastes good regardless of what I started out making (Goes for both food and beer). Why do I mention any of this? Two reasons. First, I’ve never once been disappointed by adding beer to a recipe. Whether just deglazing a pan with some suds or actually thinking ahead and using beer as a true ingredient, the end result to me is always better when beer is involved. The same could probably said for wine – It just makes food better. So, there’s a reason to add beer to food and that reason is that it tastes good. End of story. Oh wait, I said there was a second reason I mentioned all of that crap at the beginning of my ramblings. I guess the second reason that I explained my love of cooking and my love of food is to stall the story before I tell you that I rarely cook with beer.
My use of beer in cooking usually involves dumping whatever is on hand into a pot of chili or maybe tipping a few ounces into a pan of bratwurst. Not sure why I don’t cook with beer more, but I’ll certainly change my ways very soon (Starting with Kid Carboy’s Shrimp recipe most likely). With that in mind, I offer a very simple recipe that truly brings out the flavor of beer in every tasty bite. Wish I had something with more substance, but it’s all I’ve got.
Beer and Cheese Taco Dip
1 Bottle Smuttynose “Finestkind” IPA
1lb Lean Ground Beef (preferably 90/10+)
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder (I usually mix a couple – Ancho, Chipotle, or whatever you have)
½ Teaspoon onion powder
½ Teaspoon garlic powder
Several shakes of your favorite hot sauce
Plenty of salt and pepper to taste
1 Cup of cheddar cheese
Preheat broiler to low setting (Or high if you live in my house where your broiler barely works). Brown the ground beef in a large pan with a little oil until no longer pink. Drain and return to pan. Add all of the spices and turn the beef until evenly coated. Add about ¾ of the beer and cook over medium heat until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid is reduced. Remove the mixture from heat, add the remainder of the beer, and add as much hot sauce as you want. Pour the mixture into an casserole dish or ramekin and mix in roughly half of the cheese. Add the remaining cheese right to the top and stick under the broiler until the cheese is evenly melted and slightly browned. Serve with taco chips and the remaining 5 beers from the Smutty sixer. Enjoy!
One note, I don’t measure anything (Ever), so feel free to adjust any of the spice amounts or just do like my mom does and add a packet of McCormick’s taco seasoning instead. By adding a little beer just before tossing it under the broiler you’ll get plenty of beery taste and not just a mouthfull of delicious taco dip. If you’re looking for a healthier variant I’ve substituted the ground beef for ground chicken and added a can of diced green chilies with good results. That said, it’s taco dip that’s meant to be eaten with plenty of beer. If you wanted a healthy option, you probably wouldn’t be reading a post about cooking with beer.
I’m all for pitching one of the less desirable beers in my fridge into a pot of chili. But what about into a dessert recipe? I’m sure my fellow Aleheads will agree that the coming of the dessert course is no reason to stop drinking beer. You just have to switch gears a little bit–that tear-your-tongue-out IPA is not going to go well with your strawberry chocolate fondue.
Here’s a quick recipe that I enjoy:
The Commander’s 800 Calorie* Russian Imperial Stout Brownie Sundae
You will need:
– one box Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix
– vanilla ice cream, preferably Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato (available at Whole Foods)
– Cool Whip
– Russian Imperial Stout
Directions: prepare brownie mix according to package directions. Let cool completely. Place one generous brownie square in each wide, shallow pasta-type bowl. Top with 1 large scoop of vanilla ice cream and dollop of Cool Whip. Drizzle with 4-6 ozs. of Russian Imperial Stout. Easy, right?
A word about the beer selection. Unless you eat this sundae within 30 seconds of pouring the beer, you’re going to end up with a stout/brownie/ice cream slurry. There is no need to use your Old Rasputin XII here. I might go with a third-tier Russian Imperial Stout like the Samuel Adams Imperial Stout, Lagunitas Imperial Stout, or Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout. That said, if all you have is a great Russian Imperial Stout, I wouldn’t shy away from using it in this recipe. Unlike recipes where the beer cooks off, here you’ll still end up consuming the stout. Perhaps you’ll call this blasphemy. But I’ll see your blasphemy and raise you a Weyerbacher Heresy–the stout with which I first made this concoction, which performed admirably.
* Nutrition assumptions: Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Brownie – 400 cal. as prepared; Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato – 200 cal.; Russian Imperial Stout – 150 cal. per 6 oz. serving; Cool Whip – 50 cal.
I didn’t really know what to expect out of this week’s conundrum, but all of the above recipes actually sound pretty damn tasty. Of course, they do all have beer in them. I’m pretty impressed that the Commander managed a calorie count for his recipe, though that will naturally have no actual bearing on whether any of us make and/or consume his delicious dessert (Aleheads aren’t known for counting calories).
As for my recipe, I’m thinking we’re going to hearken back to my youth, go whole-hog and have a good old-fashioned pig roast. I’m not talking about pork tenderloin on the grill, I’m talking about a fire pit, a spit, and a big old pig carcass roasting low and slow all night long. You can use any good set of instructions for setting up your pit and rotisserie, but the key here is going to be the basting liquid. In a large container (metal bucket, large pot, whatever), you’re going to mix the following: For each bottle of amber ale (Full Sail Amber Ale would work great), add a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon of worchestershire sauce, a teaspoon of black pepper, and a teaspoon of garlic salt. It’s probably easiest to mix this up a six-pack at a time (be sure to stir it well). Keep it near the fire so it stays warm, and baste your pig with the mixture every fifteen minutes or so throughout the cooking process (a paint brush works great). You’ll end up with a delicious bounty of the best roast pork you’ve ever consumed to share with the pile of friends you invited over to celebrate, well, whatever it is you’re celebrating.
Also, the Czar didn’t directly contribute to the conundrum this week, but he did send me a gallon of privately-distilled vodka with the web address for something called ‘sex turkey’ spelled out below the label in sharpie.