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Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Art of Cooking with Beer

Ok perhaps I haven’t gotten it down to an art but it is something I truly enjoy and think that I am pretty good. I have become quite good at putting together delicious meals but I have also had some colossal failures. When dining at my house you are in for an adventure. I use recipes more as a guideline, something someone else came up with as a starting point for me to improve on. While Porter and I have enjoyed numerous meals that were worthy of any restaurant we have also been victims of pad thai that is too sweet, pad thai that is too fishy and one cake that was so strong that if you ate more than one serving you would fail a sobriety test.

Tonight we are having beef slow cooked in a winter ale. The plan was to have this last night for dinner but after checking my guideline and finding that it took 6 hours to cook and it was already 6 at night we decided that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were a better choice. Early this morning before heading to work I salt and peppered it and left it in the fridge beside the beer. The wonderful thing about slow cooking in my house is that it can be started in the middle of the day. Porter works from home. He put the roast in the oven at about noon set to 225°. By the time I walked through the door the entire house smelled like bread. There were hints of meat and some brightness to the smell to let me know just what was happening. My husband was in agony, having to smell it for 3 hours already and not being able to eat any of it.

Now you may be asking, “Katy Too, wherever did you get the idea for making such a delicious sounding dish?” The answer is quite simple. I love Planet Green. For those who don’t know because they live under a rock or don’t have cable, Planet Green is a tv channel up in the 500’s somewhere. All of their programming is based on greenness. When they first came on the air it seemed like they played the same 5 shows on a loop but now they are much more diverse. There is a cooking show with Emeril and while he is not my favorite tv chef, I love that he helps people find solutions to their cooking problems. They oh so cleverly name it, “Emeril Green.” The particular episode that sparked my need to make this meal was one he did in Vermont at the Long Trail Brewery. Emeril and the chef at the brewery, Chef Matt, made a whole meal with beer as its focus. I have already planned a trip to Vermont so I will answer all your questions at a later date. The dish that I fashioned my beef after was a pulled pork recipe cooked with two different Long Trail beers. (So I had planned on cooking it with pork but totally messed up at the grocery store. For some reason beef = pork in my mind. Yes I admit I am a blonde and had one of those moments.) I decided that I would use a winter beer to try and incorporate some of the flavors of the seasons.

So, back to the beef itself. Once it finished its six hour bath I pulled it out of the oven and let it rest. I used some of the liquid that the beef to cook in to make a gravy of sorts. Truthfully I was a bit worried about how it would come out. To go along with the meal I steamed some broccoli and made up some brown rice. After everything was done I cut into the meat and found that it was a bit dry, less pink than I would have hoped. I was even more worried after seeing that. I put the gravy on the meat and gave it a try. It was actually quite tasty. Going forward I would cook it for about an hour less time. The meat soaked in the flavors of the salt and the beer. It had a nice salty, yeasty, hoppy taste to it. The gravy ended up being sweet like a bbq sauce and the two tasted great together. While cooking I cracked open a Nor’easter and gave it a try. It was hoppier than I had expected. I don’t generally think of winter beers as a hoppy kind of beer so I was a bit surprised. In fact, after trying the Nor’easter I gave the IPA a try and it was LESS hoppy. I found that the Nor’easter paired quite nicely with the beef. It helped bring the hopiness level of the Nor’easter down and the flavors in the beef out. I have added the reviews below. I am also going to add the recipe too. (As I just kinda make things up as I go, it will be more of a guideline for you.) If you try it out let me know how yours turns out.

And remember: Don’t be afraid to try something new. You just might like it.

Katy Too

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