We all know about cooking with wine, but cooking with beer is less common. However, it’s just as interesting, and the resulting flavours are just as reflective of the flavours you taste when you drink it.
So, the stronger-flavoured beers are best to use in cooking. Not necessarily stout, but certainly ales rather than light lagers.
Now that winter’s officially here, comfort food like stews and meatloaf are mainstream. It’s the one good thing about bad weather. Good food is in.
I’m not a big beer drinker, but I do enjoy a light lager when it’s hot in the summer, and in winter I enjoy the occasional pale ale, as long as it isn’t too hoppy-flavoured. And, one of my very favourite stew recipes involves beer and beef.
Hopefully, you’ve resolved to try at least one new food thing a week this coming year, so you might want to begin by cooking with beer if you’ve never tried it before.
If you didn’t get it for Christmas, you might also want to pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is full of great recipes, organized seasonally, focussing on local ingredients, including beer.
It’s available wherever books are sold, as well as local VQA stores like the B.C. Wine Museum in the historic Laurel Packinghouse and many wineries, including Calona Vineyards and Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in West Kelowna.
Beef in Beer
This is one of our favourites recipes, and I’ve heard the same comment from many others. This appeared in one of my first food columns. It’s great done either on the stove top or in the slow cooker.
2 lb. (1 kg) beef strips or cubes
flour, salt and pepper
skim of oil
1-2 large onion(s), sliced
1-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 ribs celery
12 mushrooms, whole
1 1/2 c. (355 ml) beer
1 tsp. (5 ml) brown sugar
Dredge beef chuck, round or other stewing meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
Slice onions, crush garlic, chop up carrots, celery and mushrooms, if large.
Heat enough oil over medium heat, to coat the bottom of a dutch oven or heavy pot, and saute onions until limp, but not brown.
Remove onions and add enough oil to thinly cover the bottom of the pot, and brown the beef.
Return onions to the pot, along with minced or crushed garlic and vegetables.
Stir in beer and sugar.
Bring it back to bubbling, then lower heat, cover and simmer for two hours or so, or put it into a 325 F oven for the same time. Or, you can cook it in the slow cooker for about eight hours.
Rickard’s Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf
This looks very elegant and it tastes good too. Although chef Michael P. Clive, who created this recipe for Rickard’s, figures it will serve four people, I made half the recipe and it would have served three or four people, so this whole recipe would probably serve six to eight. I’ve never made meatloaf with beer in it, but this is a really tasty, mellow beer, and I’d recommend it, both for cooking with and to drink.
2 tbsp. (30 ml) olive oil
1 large onion
1/2 lb. (227 g) mushrooms
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 c. (125 ml) Rickard’s Oakhouse winter lager
1/2 c. (125 ml) heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) fresh oregano
1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. (7 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) fresh-ground black pepper
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground pork
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground beef
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground veal
1 egg, beaten lightly
3/4 lb. (340 g) smoked bacon slices
Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
Dice the onion, finely chop the mushrooms and mince the garlic and herbs.
Heat olive oil in a large frypan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until translucent, about eight minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until they just begin to colour, three to five minutes.
Stir in the cream, Rickard’s Oakhouse winter lager, minced fresh herbs or a little less dried, salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat, simmering until the vegetables are tender, eight to 10 minutes.
Transfer the mushroom mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool.
Add the meats to the mixture and stir in the beaten egg, mixing until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
On a flat surface, lay out a large sheet of parchment paper and place the 13 or so strips of bacon, side-by-side, across the middle, allowing them to overlap slightly.
Form a log of the meat mixture across the bacon slices.
Roll the parchment paper away from you, over the log of ground meat, wrapping the bacon slices around the log inside the paper, until all the paper is wrapped around the bacon-wrapped ‘log’ of meat, then twist the ends of the paper tightly to trap in all the juices.
Wrap it again using a sheet of foil and twist the foil ends similarly.
Place the wrapped loaf on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for an hour.
Remove the loaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and paper, carefully pouring off the juices.
Slice the meatloaf into 3/4-inch thick wheels and serve.