Feb 1, 2013

I'm Maria Filosa from WDIY and you're listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef. Beer is one of the oldest known prepared beverages possibly dating back to 9500 BC. In fact, it is the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and comes in third as the most popular drink with water and tea coming in first and second. Today, the brewing industry is a global business however, microbreweries and home brewing have given rise to more experimentation and diversity of flavors. This gives the cook a great opportunity to add uniqueness to recipes from meats to baked goods. Beer is a great marinade for tougher cuts of meat. It can be used alone or you can add seasonings to further enhance the flavor.

My father loved to cook with beer. His specialty was kielbasa and sauerkraut cooked in beer. You can also use bratwurst, sausage or even hotdogs. First brown the sausages, then add some onions and sauerkraut to the pan. Fill with beer and let it cook for 30 minutes or more to let the flavors mix. A pilsner or pale ale works best in this dish.

Another favorite in my family is beer can chicken. This dish is fun to make for a party since the cooked chicken looks like it's sitting down ready to join the rest of the guests. First, wash the outside of the beer can and place it in the center of a pan. Open and remove the tab. After you wash and dry the chicken, sit it down over the full can with most of the can inside the cavity of the chicken. Place a potato or an onion in the neck to keep the steam in while it's cooking. Rub the skin with oil then season with salt, pepper and garlic or whatever rub you like. Place a foil tent around the chicken and cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Remove the foil tent to allow the skin to crisp and cook for another hour or so depending upon the size of your chicken. The beer will steam the inside and keep the meat moist and delicious. Then use some of the beer remaining in the can to deglaze the pan to make a really tasty sauce.

A nice bread to serve with your chicken dish is, of course, Beer Bread. Choose the type of beer to go with the type of grains you will be using in your bread such as a full-bodied malty brew like an Imperial Brown Ale in a whole-grain bread. The recipe is very easy and only requires a few ingredients. Mix 3 cups of flour with 3 teaspoons of baking powder and 1 teaspoon of salt then stir in 12 oz. of beer. Don't over mix this batter orĀ  your bread will be tough, stir only until ingredients haveĀ  blended together. Pour the batter into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake the bread in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let this bread cool before cutting and serving.

Beer makes a great frying batter. Use the type of beer you enjoy drinking with the dish you are making. Mix one cup of beer, one and a quarter cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of baking powder, four eggs and a tablespoon of seasoning of your choice. Blend well then dip your vegetables, chicken or seafood pieces into the batter letting the excess drip off before putting it into the fryer. The oil should be at least 2" deep and about 350 degrees. Once the food is browned, let it drain on some paper towels. If you're really adventurous, try dipping and frying some cakes or cookies. Now that's an interesting dessert!

Speaking of dessert, you can also make a great cake batter with beer. Use malty, less hoppy beers. A stout works well if chocolate is added to your recipe. Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. In another bowl, beat 4 eggs with one and a half cups of sugar, 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Add the beer then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Pour the batter into a greased pan and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour depending upon the depth of your pan. If you are baking cupcakes it may only take 20-30 minutes, a deep round pan can take up to an hour. Test the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it is done. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes then invert it onto a dish. Drizzle the cooled cake with a glaze made from powdered sugar and a little milk.

Beer can be added to stew, chili or even soup so don't be afraid to experiment. Full bodied winter seasonal beers often work well. Beer is quite healthy as it contains vitamins and minerals. So pour a hearty mug for yourself and another for the cook. I'm Maria Filosa, thanks for listening to Tasty Seasonal Recipes for the Everyday Chef....have a bountiful day!