I love beer. My Dad always had beer in the house. Going to college in Boston, one of the top beer test markets in the country, beer was always in my house too – always imported, never domestic and never, ever canned.
I got into brewing my own a few years ago. I can brew up a batch that’s perfect for the season – imperial pale ales the British developed for their armies in colonial India, heavier brews for the winter. A killer “Breakfast Stout” thick and infused with espresso.
I also like cooking with beer. It lends itself well to those stick-to-your-ribs winter stews and to much lighter spring fair. Which is perfect for my current state of mind; not quite ready to move the heavy cookware to the back of the rack in favor of the lighter bowls of spring. Same for cookbooks: “100 Great Stews” being nudged aside by “Salads From Around the World”.
So, for all of us momentarily stuck in this seasonal culinary yin yang, I offer these two recipes:
Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale
2T olive oil
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, drained and minced
2T ground cumin
1 large onion, finely chopped, about 1 1/2C
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2, 14oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
24 oz dark beer (you want one on the slightly sweet side. If you’re not familiar with dark beers, ask for help from someone who knows what he’s talking about. If the store clerk looks he’s about 20 and is wearing a “Bud Light Rules” T-shirt, chances are he’s not that guy).
1, 14oz can diced tomatoes
1C fresh or frozen corn
Heat the oil in a 3 quart pot over medium heat. Add chipotles and cumin, season with salt if desired. Cook one minute, or until fragrant. Stir in onion, bell pepper and garlic. Saute 5-7 minutes, or until veggies are soft. Stir in beans, beer, tomatoes and corn. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes or until nice and thick. I like to serve with with cornbread. And a cold beer.
**Update: After making a batch of this chili, I discovered a discrepancy in the recipe. While the headline says “dark ale”, the recipe calls for “dark beer”…big difference. I made it with a dark ale which gave the dish, IMHO, an unpleasantly sharp, burnt taste with no depth of flavor. I brought this to the attention of the folks at Vegetarian Times, who promised to look into the matter and get back to me. When they do, I’ll pass it on to you. My apologies…I forget about mise en place.
Arugula Salad with Fruit Ale Dressing
For the dressing:
24oz fruit flavored ale (most good liquor stores will have such ales. Raspberry is a good one for this)
2T maple syrup
For the salad:
1 large bunch arugula, trimmed and washed, about 4C
1 Fuji or other sweet red apple, corned, thinly sliced
1/4C golden raisins
1/4C chopped toasted pecans
To make the dressing, bring ale to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, simmer 15-25 minutes or until beer is reduced to 1/2C. Cool. Whisk together the ale reduction, maple syrup and Dijon. Slowly whisk in oil, season with salt and pepper to taste.
To make the salad, place the greens in a large bowl and toss with about 2T, or more to taste, of the dressing. Garnish with apples, nuts, raisins and plate.
This is a great light lunch dish, with under 1g saturated fat, leaving plenty of room for your appropriately chilled beverage on the side.
Recipes courtesy of Vegetarian Times, March, 2009 issue
Dark beer pic courtesy of sustainabledesignupdate.com
Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009