The Man, The Bean, and I took a quick snowbird trip down to Pensacola, FL over Thanksgiving weekend. We are so fortunate to have great friends who offered to share their beach house with us for the holiday weekend. While we were there, we heard tales of a great seafood market that sells fresh caught gulf seafood and also has international supplies flown in fresh. We couldn’t leave town without stopping by to check this place out, thus we were introduced to Joe Patti’s Seafood.
The one most startling thing I realized as we were perusing the long back wall of many potential delicacies, was there was absolutely ZERO fish odor. If you were wearing a blindfold and walked into this place, you’d never know there was fish filets, shrimp, crabs, etc just feet from your face. We were really impressed with there selection and wanted to take much more home then we did, but with a 5+ hour drive, it just wasn’t practical to load up. We settled for several pounds of fresh shrimp and a few pounds of live mussels. If we go back to the Pensacola area (which I can assure you we will), another visit to Joe Patti’s will be on the agenda.
I am sorry to inform you that I do not like beer. Yes, I know. Go ahead and give me the funny looks and try to stifle your gasps. Really, I wish it wasn’t this way. For one thing, it would be a much cheaper night out if I could just swill a couple of beers to get a buzz. Also I wouldn’t feel so excluded from the cool kids club if I could knock back a few at a party. Kegs stands look fun, but I just could never do it knowing beer would be what was being shot into me.
I promise it’s not for lack of trying. I feel like I have tried and gagged on just about every brew out there. I’ve tried it from cans, bottles, kegs, even a beer funnel…no dice. It just tastes horrible to me. Bitter, sour, rotten water with a fizz. The one exception to this is lambic beers, but for those not familiar, these are dessert beers with sweet and fruity flavors that tend to be very heavy and filling. I think most mainstream beer drinkers would only call a lambic a beer by technical definition and only if someone was twisting their arm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge my friends their enjoyment of the hops and barley beverages. I am envious to be honest. Whenever I host a party, I always think to get some beer to please the majority of those guests who like to imbibe. I just keep my bottle of Canadian whiskey discretely off to the side. Or if I am partying at their abode, bring the travel flask with my favorite brand of social lubricant.
Now, to the crux of this issue. I hosted a few gathering over to winter season and have some lingering liquid leftovers taking up space in my fridge. Since I have no inclination to drink these and my great-depression-era-survivor-instincts instilled in me by my family cringe at the thought of just pouring the innocent and still good beverages down the drain, I have been trying to figure out how to use these up in a non-offensive, and hopefully yummy way.
Here’s a list of a few recipes I’ve found, some of which I’ve tried, which all use beer as an ingredient. If you have any recipes using beer, please share. I really would like the space in my fridge back!
- Taco Pasta Toss – This is a great twist on an all-time favorite in our house. This is substitutes one carb for another, replacing the taco shells with pasta. The flavor of the beer really enhanced the spice combination, raising it up to a new level. You wont want to use that packet taco seasoning ever again.
- Beer-Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak – Another delicious favorite in our house. Great for the grill on a hot summer night. The citrus flavors combine in a delightful way with the tang of the beer.
- Irish Car Bomb Bread Pudding – Made by our friends over at Foodwhirl, I don’t think this decadent dessert would last long in any household…Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, whichever.
- Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops – I’ve tried a very similar recipe to this one, but with coffee instead of beer. I think these beer chops look absolutely mouth-watering. I will be testing these on our grill very soon!
- Fish and Chips – The classic beer batter on a fresh piece of fish with some perfectly cooked potatoes, it’s no mystery why this recipe has endured for hundreds of years. Bite into this and you can almost hear the gulls cry at the wharf’s edge.
- Beef Carbonnade – Beef and noodles is a staple in our house. Everyone loves this combination. Rather then just grab a box with that creepy glove puppet and add a little cheap ground round, why not try and whip up a batch from scratch. Plus, this version has BACON!
- Red Cabbage, Apples and Sausage Recipe – I found this recipe last fall during Applepalooza. It combines so many of my favorite things, how could it go wrong?
It’s been a while since I have shared a recipe with y’all. This is an original recipe I wrote myself a few summers ago as a talk-off of family classic that I wanted to make a little more light and give a fresher flavor to. This is great hot or cold and can be tweaked to suite anyone’s palate.
- 1 box Penne Pasta
- 1.5 lbs Chicken
- 1 package of Grape/Cherry Tomatoes
- Fresh Basil
- Grated Parmesan
- Dried Italian Herbs (I use this)
- Start a large pot of water to boil for pasta. Add a generous pinch of salt to water.
- While water is heating, dice chicken into bite-size pieces.
- Once water is at a rolling boil, add pasta. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of EVOO over med-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, add chicken and a generous tablespoon (or 2) of pesto. Saute chicken, stirring frequently.
- While chicken and pasta are cooking, halve tomatoes and set aside.
- De-stem basil, cut and set aside. (for an easily brused herb like this, chiffonade is the best method I have found to cut)
- Once chicken is cooked and juices are flowing clear, add tomatoes and basil to skillet. Mix thoroughly.
- Your pasta should also be about done. Remove from heat, drain and pour it into a large serving bowl.
- Drizzle pasta with 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix.
- Remove chicken mixture from heat and pour into serving bowl with pasta.
- Toss chicken with pasta, add Parmesan and additional dried Italian spices to taste.
This is a great spring and summer dish that’s wonderfully filling, but not heavy. It has a cool and refreshing flavor. I like to make this when I am short on time and need something to please a crowd.
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
1/2 lb. pasta*
2 Hearts of Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 lb. chicken, cubed (peeled and devained shrimp could also be substituted)
2-3 tbsp Pesto
1 tbsp Olive Oil
Zest of a lemon
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh Shredded Parmesan
- Cook pasta per instructions in well salted water.
- While pasta is cooking, coat chicken in pesto. Heat olive oil in skillet.
- Saute chicken in olive oil until cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Once pasta is cooked al dente, drain and rinse with cool water.
- Toss lettuce, pasta and chicken in large bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients and toss with dressing to coat evenly.
* Any kind will work, I’ve done this previously with farfalle, penne, rotini, etc. I was out of my usual small pastas, so for this demo I used angel hair spaghetti.
Makes 4 hearty-sized portions