Who isn’t a craft beer drinker these days what with the explosion of independent craft brewers in nearly every state of the Union? But have you tried cooking with your favorite brew?
Admittedly, I am not an aficionado of craft beers, I am but a casual imbiber who enjoys a couple of cold IPAs on a sultry summer’s day, switching to a hearty brown ale or porter when temperatures cool and daylight descends into darkness far too early. But there are certain times, like baseball and football season (so pretty much year-round), where beer is the obvious choice, and that beer is not Coors or Bud Light.
But cooking with beer – I’ve been mastering that for some time! Because, guess what? Beer has no sodium, and, in case your new to She’s Cookin’, the majority of recipes here are focused on lowering your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. In many dishes, beer is a wonderful substitute for stock or broth, which contains a ton of salt, especially if it is store bought. Beer also imparts an abundance of fruity, hoppy, yeasty, chocolate, coffee flavors that are not inherent in broth.
Enter Food on Tap, written and beautifully photographed by my friend, Lori Rice, who writes, photographs and develops recipes at Fake Food Free, and whose love of fresh, simple, food evolved into an equal fondness for well-crafted beer. Today, I’m typing this post with one hand because I broke the other one, but I JUST HAD TO SHARE. (That wasn’t supposed to be all caps, but I’m keeping it.)
The recipes Lori has included in Food on Tap are simple, approachable, and look and sound delicious. I’m sure there are a couple that are the perfect vehicle for you to cook with your favorite beer. Since I haven’t been able to cook for a month, I am including the Baked Brown Beer Potato Cheddar Enchiladas (pg. 94), because I’ll definitely be making this when both hands are functional – and who doesn’t love enchiladas?!
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium russet potatoes (about 1 pound), baked
- 2 large gold potatoes (about 1 pound), baked
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 ounces brown ale
- 8 ounces white or yellow Cheddar, shredded, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons chile powder
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 9 ounces brown ale
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 12 large corn tortillas, warmed
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- To make the enchilada filling, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Roughly chop the baked potatoes (with the skin on, unless you choose to discard it) and add them to the skillet. Stir in the salt and the smoked paprika. Pour in the 3 ounces of beer and stir the potatoes, gently breaking them up. Cook until the liquid is absorbed and any remaining evaporates, about 1 more minute. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Let cool.
- To make the sauce, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk it into a paste, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the chile powder and then the tomato paste. A thick red paste should form.
- Carefully pour in the 9 ounces of beer and then the stock as you continue to whisk. Bring to a low simmer and cook until it begins to thicken slightly, 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, and then stir in the cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and paprika. Continue to simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Transfer ¼ cup of the sauce to the baking dish and spread it to coat the bottom. Work on a flat surface and scoop an equal amount of potato filling into the bottom center portion of a tortilla. Roll from the bottom up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue with the remaining tortillas. It’s okay if the tortillas split in some spots once you get it into the baking dish.
- Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are bubbling. Serve warm, sprinkled with cilantro. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Food on Tap by Lori Rice, published by The Countryman Press, October 2017.
Beer can be used in recipes for any meal (see the brunch chapter!) and in any course of a meal. Other recipes from Food on Tap that I can’t wait to try are the Porter Smoked Salmon Spread, the Giant Witbier Biscuits, and the Tomato Blue Cheese Tarts (with Belgian Golden Ale Crust).YUM! The dessert chapter has several recipes that recipes that are perfect for the holidays – Vanilla Porter Pecan Walnut Pie anyone?
I also like how Lori offers several beer recommendations for each recipe. She has developed a discerning palate over the years, which is especially helpful if you are broadening your beer education. Food on Tap also makes a terrific gift for your craft beer loving friends who like to cook or extend their recipe repertoire beyond beer can chicken or chocolate stout cake. You can order Food on Tap from Amazon or your favorite bookseller. Enjoy!