Amazing Ales: Consider cooking with beer

July 25, 2012 

Rich flavored beers are not only ideal accompaniments to fine meals, but they can also enhance a meal as an ingredient.

Craft beer flavors are intense and even if a particular brew is not to your liking as a beverage, that doesn't mean it won't be great as a cooking ingredient.

Here are a few tips on beer tasting: Take a few moments to look at the beer's appearance, then smell it, beertutor.com states. Next taste it, don't just take a gulp, but do it slowly; look for balance. Is it sweet, bitter or sour and how intense are the flavors? Lastly consider the beer's overall impression. Craft beers are worth a little extra time to consider fully.

Beer-can chicken never looked so good as when it is done with a good craft beer, and if you are a fan of ribs steamed in a regular beer, you might imagine the difference a craft beer might make.

The number of ways beer might be employed as an ingredient in recipes is seemingly limitless. It can add body to your beef stew or pasta sauce, as a component in a beef sauce or as a marinade for almost anything.

Craft beers can be expensive. Most recipes, however, call for only a can or less. A little bit goes a long way and the beers are often sold individually or in four packs. Most beer has a shelf life of several months, so you can keep it around a while.

BEER-MARINATEDSHRIMP PO-BOY

Bread for po-boy

2-3 large ripe tomatoes

Best quality mayonnaise (compound with basil and lemon for a bit more zest)

1 pound large shelled shrimp

1 can craft beer

4-6 cloves chopped garlic

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 small bunch chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon oyster sauce (find at any Asian market)

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix shrimp, beer, garlic, red pepper, cilantro, oyster sauce and black pepper and seal in a plastic bag, refrigerate for several hours. Drain thoroughly when ready.

The best way to cook the shrimp is to skewer them and cook over a

hot wood fire, hardwood charcoal briquettes would be OK too. If you just can't stand the heat outside and want to cook them in the kitchen cook them in butter cut with a little olive oil, over an aggressive flame. Remember shrimp cook in 30-45 seconds on a side.

Split the po-boy bread and toast until just crisp.

Slice the tomatoes thickly, season with black pepper, build the po-boy with mayonnaise, shrimp, tomatoes and black pepper.

BEER BURGER

1 pound best quality ground beef

1 can craft beer (dark larger, porter or stout)

4 strips smoked bacon

1 chopped onion

4-6 cloves chopped garlic

3-4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 egg

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Burger bun, French bread or thick sliced wheat bread

Put the ground beef in a plastic bag, add the beer and seal. Store overnight in the refrigerator, but 1-2 hours is OK if your time is short. Drain the beer from the beef by placing it in a colander. Let it sit for a while then squeeze it by hand to remove as much of the liquid as you can.

Sauté the onions in a little olive oil and the balsamic vinegar for 10 minutes or until well-colored and soft. Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Let the onions and garlic cool and then combine all the ingredients, forming four patties.

As always burgers are best over a wood fire, or hardwood charcoal fire, gas is next and lastly inside on the stove.

Serve this burger with a good melting cheese such as Emmental or Gruyere, but if you want an extra bite to it use a good blue cheese such as Roaring Forties or Gorgonzola.

This burger is good on a regular hamburger bun, but even better on French bread or with a locally made thick-sliced wheat or multi-grain bread.

ROASTED POBLANO OYSTER BISQUE OR STEW

1/2 stick unsalted butter

3 roasted poblano (remove skin, seeds) diced

3 cloves garlic minced

1 stalk celery minced

1 large diced tomato or 1/2-can petite diced tomatoes (strained) optional

1 cup fresh off the cob corn kernels (or frozen sweet white corn) optional

1 large potato cubed very small (new potatoes are creamy) optional

1 bottle room temp beer (I use NewCastle)

1 bunch chives cut on bias, about 1/2 inch long (reserve half for garnish)

2 quart half-and-half cream

3- 1/2-pounds shucked oysters, save the oyster liquor

Heavy pinch smoked paprika

Tony Chachere's to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Serve with flash-fried beer battered cornmeal dredged oysters and remaining chives.

Roast the poblano on grill, on gas stovetop, or under broiler until skin bubbles and turns black. Run under cold water to remove skin and then split to remove seeds and then dice. In suitable-sized, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté veggies in butter over medium-high heat until translucent. Deglaze with beer and then continue to cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Season with smoked paprika and Tony Chachere's to taste. Add half-n-half. Reduce heat to moderately low and do not let boil. Allow enough moisture to reduce so it thickens slightly.

Add 3 pounds oysters and their juice. Cook uncovered at simmering temperature just until oysters firm up (takes only a few minutes.)

Taste for seasoning and add sea salt if necessary.

Serve topped with a few flash-fried oysters and remaining chives and black pepper.

*If you want thicker bisque you can sprinkle flour on veggies before deglazing with beer, just be sure to cook the raw off the flour first.

Thanks to Angela Denisowski.

Julian Glenn Brunt, who has been a Mississippi Gulf Coast resident for more than 20 years, has a deep and abiding interest in art, culture and the culinary heritage of the South. His column runs weekly in Taste. You can contact him at living@sunherald.com.

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