From hand to table
Your recipe calls for wine. You’re a beer drinker. What do you do? Don’t worry, I didn’t know if using beer in cooking was the best idea either. But then, as an experiment, I tried it.
One of the main things I love about beer is that there’s always an element of mad science involved in each brew. Each of its four ingredients can be manipulated a million ways to create the perfect brew for any situation. Lucky for us, cooking is one of these situations.
Where to Start
If you’re looking into cooking with beer as an ingredient, a tried-and-true favourite in my house is the legendary Beer-Can Chicken. But once you give that a go a few times, you’ve basically mastered it, and will likely want to dive a little deeper. Also, our brewers have worked too hard to have a half-can of their beer shoved up the exit end of a chicken carcass (it’s tastier than it sounds, trust me). And this, my friends, is where the fun begins.
A few cookbooks exist on the topic with some interesting recipes and with some general guidelines. Luckily, more and more books are appearing on the shelves as chefs experiment and discover different flavours. If you don’t want to do a bunch of research, you’re generally safe with the following rules of thumb:
- Wheat beers are great with chicken and seafood
- Ales, porters and stouts are perfect for pork, beef, and lamb
- Belgian ales go great with hearty meats and game
- Nut-brown ales pair well with stews and cheesy dishes
Follow The Rules, or Not…
If you’re like my wife, you like rules and structure and you’ll probably want to find a cookbook. My suggestion would be The Canadian Craft Beer Cook Book. It has some great recipes that will give you a good start, as well as some interesting profiles on Canadian Craft Beer Icons — including the BC brewpub that started it all — Spinnakers in Victoria.
And since you now have me talking about my favourite brewpub, let’s talk about Spinnakers. There aren’t many places that you can find one of the best views in the city, fresh delicious beer, and a locally sourced menu all under one roof. Unless you’re talking about Spinnakers. With beer involved in almost everything on the menu, you’ll want to make sure you stop by the next time you’re in Victoria. But I digress.
Perhaps you’re more of a cavalier in the kitchen like myself. If so, you can take the four rules of thumb from above and have at it. Or, if you’re even more like me, you can throw out all the rules and let the beer flow into everything you cook. I like to play around with my food (sorry mom). I have only one rule in the kitchen: “If a recipe calls for water or wine, you can just go ahead assume they mean beer.”
Let’s Get Started
By now, you’re likely excited to try cooking with beer. Good! to get you started, I’m going to share one of my personally developed, beer-infused recipes that could be one of the few reasons my wife is still with me: my “Famous” Shandy Ribs. I’ve made this enough times that I’m willing to put it out there with confidence. If you want the full experience, try out my homemade Beer-BQ Sauce and Rib Rub too!
Be warned, If you like exact and precise, you can follow this recipe to the word, but feel free to add or take away from it depending on your own tastes. I’m a culinary cavalier remember??
– Beer Appetite. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! –
Mike’s “Famous” Shandy Ribs
- Ribs (as many racks as you want)
- Barbecue sauce (try mine below)
- Rib Rub (try mine below)
- Lighter beer – lager or pilsner (suggestion: Driftwood Arcus Pilsner)
- Fruit juice – I prefer pineapple
- Set Oven to 275 Degrees (F)
- Remove silver skin from the underside of the ribs and dry off meat with a paper towel
- Smear barbecue sauce all over the ribs
- Sprinkle rib rub all over the ribs (no need to rub it in)
- Place ribs on cookie sheet meat side up
- Pour half a tin of beer in the cookie sheet
- Pour about the same amount of juice in the sheet
- Tent tin foil over ribs, making sure to limit any air holes over top, your goal here is to create a steam tent for the ribs
- Carefully place ribs in the oven (don’t spill the liquid) and cook ribs for 3 hours
- Take ribs out of the oven and remove tinfoil tent
- Turn oven up to 350 degrees (F)
- Smear some barbecue sauce on top of the ribs
- Place the ribs uncovered in the oven or, if you have one, on the barbecue for about 20 minutes or until the sauce starts to caramelize
- Eat ribs with fury!
Mikey’s Beer-BQ Sauce
- 1 onion – any size, chopped well
- 4 garlic cloves – squished
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 5 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (more if you like spicy)
- 2 cups ketchup (homemade if you’ve got it)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ⅛ cup Balsamic vinegar
- ⅓ cup yellow mustard
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp liquid smoke (more if you like smoky)
- 3 tsp dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup strong coffee from this morning
- 1 can dark beer – stout if you have it
- Grab a large pot and cook Group A at medium heat until onion is translucent
- Add in Group B and cook for a couple of minutes at the same heat
- Add in Group C, and bring to boil while stirring
- Reduce heat to low and simmer without a lid for about an hour or until you’ve reached your preferred consistency
- Find me on Instagram and tell me how much you like my sauce!
Ribby Rib Rub
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup smoky paprika
- 1 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- Mix it all together and use as needed