Oktoberfest, a tradition in Germany each October celebrating beer-drinking and merrymaking, has become a worldwide fun festival enjoyed across the USA and many other countries too. It passed me up this year due to our own Jewish festivals but despite it being November, I thought it would be fun and delicious to chat about and cook with some beer.
Admittedly, I’m not a beer drinker ( I strongly prefer wine) but I do love the complex flavors especially infused in some of my favorite dishes, like pulled beef and chocolate. Julia Child’s famous quip, “I love cooking with beer, and sometimes I even put it in food.”
Beer is remarkably complex for something made with only four ingredients, malted grains, hops, yeast and water and each play an important role in the final flavor, which is why there are so many varietals. For drinking, just go with what you like in terms of taste. They do run the gamut from light and citrusy to full, dark and hoppy. For cooking though pale ales, and porters add instant depth to simple dishes while malty and darker beers work well in more complex dishes.
Lighter flavors tend to lose their robustness the longer the cooking time but can act as the acid in a dish and therefore soften it a bit. Heartier beers add a hint of bitterness that softens over a long cooking period and are good in stews and meats.
A final note, beer is a great tenderizer for meat and a flavor enhancer in marinades. I often marinade corned beef overnight in a mixture of beer and orange juice and then pour it off and cook it as the recipe instructs. The orange juice and beer add great flavor and also make the meat super soft. This is true for other cuts too like London Broil, Minute Steak, brisket, and French Roasts etc. Add a ½ cup to any marinade in place of the other acid.
Try these beer infused recipes. Non-beer lovers, no worries! No fear!…these are for you too, they just have great flavor, try them!
Pulled Chicken Sliders with Pale Ale BBQ Sauce and Pickled Onions
Lentil Salad with Dried Cherries, Kale and Toasted Nuts
Beer and Barbeque Minute Steak
Oven Baked Short Ribs with Beer Boosted BBQ Sauce
Honey and Dark Beer Chocolate Cake