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?
I have to admit, I had never heard of the Sous-Vide technique before happening across this article today. For the uninitiated like myself, Sous-Vide “is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point.”
I must say, I am rather intrigued. This has apparently been used by a number of top chefs across Europe for years as a way to prepare foods without the item loosing its original appearance by helping them to maintain color and texture. From what I’m seeing, things like steak cooked by this method still need a quick finish on the grill, but I think the idea of keeping all the juices inside the meat and having it be tender and full of its original flavors might make this worthy of a try.
Rather then invest in a Sous-vide machine, which apparently are quite pricy (staring at $450+), the Serious Eats blog has come up with a method using a beer cooler and some zip-lock bags to achieve the same results for a fraction of the cost.
Once you realize that a beer cooler is just as good at keeping hot things hot as it is at keeping cold things cold, then the rest is easy: Fill up your beer cooler with water just a couple degrees higher than the temperature you’d like to cook your food at (to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it), seal your food in a plastic Ziplock bag, drop it in, and close your beer cooler until your food is cooked. It’s as simple as that.
I see the purchase of a beer cooler and some steaks in my future.