Why You Should Cook with Beer More Often
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." We've all seen the quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, on numerous shirts, glasses, and bar signs. It's a good, if overused slogan. It makes one clear, indisputable point: beer is great, and life is better with it.
Ironically, Benjamin Franklin didn't actually say those words, but that really only tells us one thing: perhaps ol' Ben wasn't as smart as we thought. (Though, he actually did say this of wine, the next best thing.)
While we're speaking of quotes, you know the popular kitchen magnet that says, "I love to cook with wine... sometimes I even put it in the food"? That applies to beer as well. Beer—while best suited for direct imbibing—is remarkably fun to cook with. It adds subtle depth of flavors, and a great yeasty flavor. Here are some of the best ways to cook with beer.
When I was a junior in college, my housemates and I threw a party. We had a keg of PBR, but not enough people to finish it. The next morning we were left with a conundrum: what to do with all this beer that's about to go flat? Being a diligent college student, I tried consuming it all with breakfast, but I only got so far. So we moved to plan B: bread. We made a batch of beer bread, and liked it so much that we made another... and another... and 12 batches of bread later, we'd finally polished off the keg.
Beer bread is as simple as it gets: flour, salt, sugar, melted butter, and beer. No kneading. Just throw it in an oven (I recommend baking in a cast iron skillet), and soon you'll have an awesome, delicious treat (if you want to make it even better, you can add green onions and cheddar cheese).
Because beer contains so much yeast, you don't need to deal with adding yeast to your dough, or with letting it rise. All of the chemical magic happens with the beer, in the oven.
If you don't want to go through gathering up all the ingredients for beer bread, there are beer bread kits you can purchase in stores and online from companies such as Krusteaz, Soberdough (their garlic version is good too), Budweiser, and Molly & Drew.
If you're a fan of rich desserts, then it doesn't get much better than stouts and chocolate. Guinness chocolate cake is a classic, and for good reason: it's wildly delicious.
Any dark beer can be paired with a dark dessert for a glorious result. They make especially great chocolate or caramel sauces!
Meat and beer is one of the greatest pairings in the history of food. Burgers and beer, wings and beer, sandwiches and beer—I could go on and on. But a bottle in one hand and a brat in the other isn't the only way to consume meat and beer together: they also pair excellently when cooking.
Few things can compare to beer-braised short ribs, and I use them for deglazing anything with meat or mushrooms. Sometimes I even pour a little beer into a pan while cooking a sausage... it's delicious! And the best part? Beer can make grilled meats better for you!
If you really want to have some fun with your brew in the kitchen, then this is for you: beer can chicken, in which a whole chicken is cooked on an open can of beer.