Drum up a Father's Day menu featuring beer

kpurvis@charlotteobserver.comJune 11, 2013 

  • Cooking With Beer

    • When measuring, leave time for the foam to settle to get an accurate reading.

    • In a batter, measure and mix the beer in quickly, to capture the bubbles.

    • If you want caramelization, particularly in grilling or roasting meats, go with darker beers.

    • Beers vary in bitterness, with IPAs in particular packing a lot of hoppy flavor. Taste as you go in case you need to add more sugar to balance it.

    Want more recipes? Although it’s being redesigned, www.homebrewchef.com has a good archive of recipes and menus from writer Sean Paxton.

Let’s start by begging for forgiveness.

Yes, the idea of dads and beer is a shameful stereotype. An obvious assumption. A cliché as heinous as, well, assuming that all men like beer.

And yet, we can present evidence. First, beer consumption by gender has remained consistent for years. Gallup numbers show that 55 percent of men who drink prefer beer, while 52 percent of women prefer wine.

Second, Father’s Day is the fourth-highest holiday in beer sales, according to the Nielsen Co. That would be after the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Memorial Day, and a lot higher on the charts than No. 8 – the Super Bowl.

 Unless there’s one guy in Texas buying enough to tilt the whole country, there are a lot of people out there buying beer for the dads.

Still, when we thought about putting together a Father’s Day menu featuring beer, we hesitated. Isn’t cooking with beer something for fall and winter?

That’s another stereotype.

“When I picture beer as food in summer, I picture standing over the grill with a beer,” admitted Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewing in Durham. You could call Wilson the father of the North Carolina craft beer movement: He headed Pop the Cap, the campaign that raised the state’s limit on alcohol by volume and made the current explosion in brewing possible.

Wilson has held cooking contests with his beers. Last year’s winner was a sorbet made with his Rocket Science IPA. And he’s been brewing smoked beers like Hogwash, his hickory smoked porter. He’s heard of people using it to marinate pork or brisket.

Chad Henderson, head brewer of NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, says cooking with beer is a natural for him – his refrigerator is always stuffed with it.

“I almost always put beer into everything, especially if I’m going to grill. I have access to so much.”

Henderson doesn’t eat beef, but he’ll marinate chicken in something robust, like a porter or brown ale, something that gives more caramelizing. Or he’ll use a hoppy beer to match with something that has spice, like peppers.

Mashing grain lowers the pH, he says, so beer is acidic. But it isn’t as acidic as a vinegar-based marinade, so you can still use it on something like fish.

With craft beers so prevalent now, you can get very specific with flavors, whether you want citrus notes for steaming mussels or chocolate stout for a cake.

Just be gentle with the beer so you don’t lose its characteristics, says Wilson.

“If you have heat too high, like a sauce, the bittering components of the hops can lose its floral and citrus. On a slow simmer, it can be done very well.”

Beer-Braised Brats With Mustard Ale Sauce Adapted from www.homebrewchef.com. Go with a hoppy beer, such as Natty Green’s Elm Street or Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. 1/2 cup Dijon mustard 1 (12-ounce) bottle plus 1/4 cup IPA, divided 1 tablespoon granulated sugar 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2 to 2 pounds fresh bratwurst 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar 1 tablespoon malt vinegar 1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

COMBINE the mustard, 1/4 cup beer, granulated sugar and salt in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside. (Can be made 24 hours in advance and refrigerated.)

POKE brats several times using a skewer or toothpick. Bring 12 ounces beer, brown sugar, vinegar and thyme to simmer in a skillet with a lid. Add the brats, cover and simmer about 20 minutes, until just cooked through. Turn off heat and let them cool 30 minutes in the cooking liquid. Remove and refrigerate until ready to finish.

GRILL brats or reheat in a skillet with a little oil, turning frequently until browned on all sides. Serve with mustard ale sauce, in toasted buns or on a plate.

YIELD: 4 to 6 servings. Warm Potato Salad With Lager Dressing From www.samueladams.com. 2 to 2 1/2 pounds medium-size red potatoes Kosher salt 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 cup chopped red or yellow onion, divided 6 ounces (3/4 cup) Boston lager 3 tablespoons malt or cider vinegar 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1/2 cup diced red or yellow onion 1/4 minced flat-leaf parsley 2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives

FILL a large pot about 2/3 full with water and add about 1 tablespoon salt. Add whole potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and let stand until just cool enough to handle. Pull off peelings and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds or half-rounds.

WHILE potatoes are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion and cook about 5 minutes or until soft. Add lager, vinegar and sugar, bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Stir in mustard.

TRANSFER to a food processor or blender and puree. (Be careful of splashing hot liquid; vent the cover and cover the top with a dish towel if using a blender.) With motor running, pour in remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil.

ADD remaining onion and parsley to the warm potatoes, then add enough of the dressing to coat, mixing gently. Serve garnished with chives.

YIELD: About 6 servings. Fresh Spinach Salad With Orange-Ale Vinaigrette Adapted from Food & Wine magazine. 2 ounces hoppy beer, such as an IPA 1 tablespoon minced shallot 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest 1 tablespoon honey 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste About 4 to 6 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed well, stems trimmed 1 orange, peeled and cut into segments 1/4 to 1/2 red onion, cut in thin half-rings

WHISK the beer with the shallot, orange zest, honey and mustard in a small bowl. Whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

COMBINE spinach, orange segments and red onion. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately. (Vinaigrette and salad can be made ahead and refrigerated, but wait until just before serving to combine them.)

YIELD: 4 servings.

Barleywine-Braised Red Cabbage Adapted from Chad Henderson of NoDa Brewing in Charlotte. The hoppiness and high alcohol of American barleywine brings a fruity flavor to the combination of apple and cabbage. 4 slices bacon 1 1/2 cups diced red onion (about half of a large onion) 1/4 cup cider vinegar 1 head red cabbage, cored and sliced 1 1/2 cups cored, diced red apple, such as Red Delicious or Fuji (1 large apple) 1 tablespoon whole cloves 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar 2 (12-ounce) bottles American barleywine, such as Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

COOK the bacon in a large Dutch until just starting to crisp. Remove and drain, leaving bacon fat in the pot. Add the onion and cook until just starting to soften. Add the cider vinegar, cabbage, apple, cloves and brown sugar. Add enough beer to almost cover. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 1 hour.

REMOVE lid and continue to cook about 1 hour, until apples are falling apart and cabbage is very tender. Add salt to taste.

YIELD: 6 servings. Jalapeno Beersicles Ever since I had the jalapeno beer at Birdsong Brewing in Charlotte, I’ve been looking for a way to combine the flavors in the kitchen. These adults-only frozen pops are cold and hot at the same time. 2 ounces simple syrup (see note) 1 (12-ounce) bottle Belgian white beer, such as Hoegaarden or Blue Moon Bottled jalapeno slices and juice

COMBINE simple syrup, beer and about 2 tablespoons juice from bottled jalapeno slices. Stir gently.

PLACE several jalapeno slices into individual frozen-treat molds. Pour in beer mixture to fill to the top. Freeze until firm and gently remove from molds. (Or use small paper cups and insert popsicle sticks when they’re partially frozen.)

NOTE: To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until clear. Remove from heat and cool. Chill and keep refrigerated, for everything from ice tea to cocktails.

YIELD: 4 to 6 frozen treats, depending on the size. Inside

Purvis: 704-358-5236

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