In the last five years, the beer community has gotten mighty crafty.
It’s apparent in the rise of boutique breweries and quality craft beer infiltrating mainstream culture. Bars and restaurants host craft beer and food pairings on a regular basis and craft beer desserts (lemon IPA bars, anyone?) are gaining in popularity. The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook: 100 Recipes for Sliders, Skewers, Mini-Desserts and More—All Made with Beer (Adams Media, September 2015) by Jacquelyn Dodd is a compendium of bar food bites that use craft beer as a main ingredient. Dodd, a recipe developer, food photographer and writer is best known as The Beeroness and she knows a thing or two about infusing craft beer into your cooking.
This is the perfect time of year to start cooking with beer. The arrival of autumn means the arrival of amazing fall brews, says Dodd. “Fall brings in the dark beers after a summer of lighter, hoppy brews. Look for more than just pumpkin ales: brown ales, gingerbread beer, and barrel-aged beers are starting to make a comeback. This is my favorite season for beer.”
Matching beer with food doesn’t have to be difficult. “For food pairings to serve with a big spread of different dishes, try an American brown ale. They have a bit more hops than other browns and they just seem to go with everything.” So pour yourself a pint and save the rest of your six pack for two amazing recipes below that use brown ale and a high-hop IPA. Aghast at using your finely crafted brews in recipes? Here are five reasons why you should incorporate it in your cooking:
- Beer is a great liquid for baking – it can increase leavening, or making dough rise, and will give you a lighter, puffier, tender texture than other liquids.
- Beer is a natural meat tenderizer. It has the right liquid-to-alcohol ratio to get the job done without over-saturating the meat with the taste of alcohol.
- Hops were originally used in beer to provide a mild preservative. If you make beer bread or some porter jam, this can extend the shelf life for an extra week or two.
- If you’re a lover of all things spicy, then beer is your best friend. However, keep in mind that marinating a hot pepper in beer its alcohol content will impact the intensity of the capsaicin in the pepper.
- It pairs well with everything. If you’re brining a chicken use a brown ale with notes of nuts or cloves. Baking a chocolate cake? Use stout for a great taste and texture. If you’re braising pork, try a chipotle porter for extra kick. Marinating a steak on the grill calls for a heady coffee stout, and fish is best with a white ale with citrus notes.
Chicken Beer Cheese Pretzel Empanadas
Beer and pretzels have always had a furious love affair. The salty pretzels and the cold carbonation of the beer could teach a master class in harmonious food pairings. So it’s going to be no surprise that beer-stuffed pretzels are fairly mind-blowing.
Makes 8 empanadas
For the Crust
2½ cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 envelope (2¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
1 cup wheat beer
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons oil
10 cups water
¼ cup baking soda
1 large egg lightly beaten
1 tablespoon coarse salt
For the Filling
1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs,
cut into bite-sized cubes
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (1¾ cups)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup IPA
- Add the flour, sugar, garlic powder, and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Stir to combine.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add the beer. Microwave for 20 seconds, test the temperature, and repeat until the beer reaches 120°F.
- Pour the beer into the flour mixture and stir at a low speed until most of the dough has been moistened. Add the kosher salt and oil, turn the speed up to high, and mix until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth, about 8 minutes.
- Oil a large bowl with olive oil. Remove the dough from the mixer, form into a ball, and place in prepared bowl; then cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm, dry area until doubled in size, about 40–60 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, about 2 minutes. Cut into 8 equal-sized pieces. Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, about 8 minutes.
- In a food processor or blender, add the cheese, cornstarch, sour cream, and IPA; blend until smooth. Pour over the chicken then simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat.
- One at a time, roll the dough pieces out on a lightly floured surface into 6″ circles. Fill each with about 3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture. Fold the dough over the filling, making crescent shapes, and roll the edges together, pressing with a fork to seal well. Add to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
- Fill a large pot with 10 cups water, making sure there is room for it to bubble up without spilling over but deep enough for the pretzels. Bring the water to a boil, then add the baking soda. One at a time, gently place each pretzel into the boiling baking soda water and cook, turning once, for about 30 seconds. Remove from the water with a slotted spatula and place back on the baking sheet; allow to dry.
- Brush liberally with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until dark golden brown in color.
Choose the Right Brew!
The sharp Cheddar in this recipe balances nicely with a high-hop IPA that has a strong malt backbone. The pretzel dough works well with a bready wheat beer.
Excerpted from The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Jacquelyn Dodd and published by F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.