Next time you crack open a beer to have with dinner, you might think about pouring a little into your saucepan as well. Beer is bursting with flavors that can range from citrus to deep chocolate. And, like wine, in small doses it can add subtle nuances to your favorite dishes.
Beer intensifies during cooking; its boldest flavors emerge strongly while its subtler flavors recede. When you pick a beer to cook with, taste it first and identify which flavors stand out. This will give you an idea of how it will taste in your dish.
A splash of beer can be used to deglaze a pan or replace the liquid in a baking recipe. Think of how the coffee flavors in a good stout would deepen the sauce going on your steak, or how a bottle of your favorite lager would perk up your next batch of soup!
White bean and sausage soup
4 links (about 1 pound) of your favorite sausage, sliced into thin rounds
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons marjoram, minced
3 cups (two 12-ounce bottles) amber lager beer
3 cups vegetable broth
6 ounces kale, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped
2 (16-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan
Set a large pot over medium-high heat and film the bottom with a little olive oil. Add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and let it drain on a paper towel. Pour off the excess fat in the pot, leaving a teaspoon behind.
Lower the heat to medium, and cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are completely translucent and begin to caramelize, 15 minutes. Add the garlic and the marjoram, and cook until both become fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Pour in the beer and broth, and bring the soup to a boil. Add the kale and three teaspoons of salt, and cook until the kale is bright green and tender. Stir in the beans, the reserved sausage and the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and taste to adjust the seasonings.
Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan and a few pieces of crusty bread.
This soup is even better the next day. Serves 4 to 6.
Stout beef stroganoff
1/2 pound egg noodles
1 pound sirloin steak, cut into strips 2-inches long and 1/4-inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, white button or baby bella
3/4 cup (1/2 bottle) stout beer
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
Salt and pepper
Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and cook the egg noodles until they are al dente. Strain and set aside.
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and film the bottom with canola oil. Sprinkle the strips of steak with salt and pepper. Sear the meat in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Transfer browned meat to a separate plate.
Lower the heat to medium and add another teaspoon of oil to the pan, if necessary. Cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they become translucent and start to brown (5 minutes). Add the mushrooms with another pinch of salt and cook until they have released all their juices and turned golden brown (5 minutes). Return the heat to medium-high to evaporate the juices.
Pour in the beer, scraping the bottom of the pan to release the glaze. Add the meat back to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and let the stroganoff simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced and the meat is entirely cooked through.
Stir in the mustard and sour cream. Taste to adjust seasonings and serve over egg noodles. Serves 4.
Plums poached in wheat beer
6 black or golden plums
1 bottle Belgian-style wheat beer, such as Blue Moon or Allagash White
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon orange zest (from 1/2 orange)
1/2-inch ginger, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
Slice the plums in half and remove the pit.
Combine the beer, sugar and spices in a medium sauce pan. Bring the liquid to a boil. When all the sugar is dissolved, add the plums and return the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Stirring occasionally, cook the plums until they are soft, 6-8 minutes.
Scoop out the plums with a slotted spoon and transfer them to another container. Strain the poaching liquid. Return the liquid to the saucepan and boil until the liquid has reduced to about 1 cup, 6-8 minutes. Pour the syrup over the plums.
Serve hot, warm, or cold. Plums can be made the day ahead and stored in their syrup. Serves 6.
Emma Christensen is a writer for Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn (thekitchn.com).
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