Beer (& More) In Food

Beer: The Condiment With An Attitude!

Archive for the ‘Beer And Food Pairing’ Category

Tales From “Beer & Food: An American History”

Posted by Bob Skilnik on December 28, 2008

     In the last decade or so, there has been an explosion of new beer-themed cookbooks that have either attempted to pair up food with various styles of beer or use beer as an ingredient in its preparation. The craft beer movement and its impact in reawakening the brewing of styles of beer that had long been forgotten in the United States seems to have had a strong influence on the authors of these cookbooks. Though many of the recipes that have been created in the last few years have ambitiously tried to match these forgotten beer styles with various foods, the efforts often seem too esoteric for my taste, too demanding of my time and certainly not of common everyday fare.

A cedar-planked wild salmon matched with a highly-hopped pale ale sounds delicious on a restaurant menu but way beyond the sort of entrée one might whip-up at home. Let’s face it, there are few home cooks who have a supply of untreated cedar boards stored away or have ready access to wild salmon for this sort of a dish. And what would be a proposed vegetable accompaniment to such an entrée? Suggestions in the latest beer cookbooks might include the steamed, young tender shoots of the hop vine, similar, so we’re told, to the springtime harvest of asparagus. My local supermarket doesn’t carry young hop shoots. Does yours? Since supermarket asparagus continues to be flown in from God-knows-where and priced at $3.99 to $4.99 per pound in late December, imagine what a price of hop shoots would cost, if they could even be found.

As we look at the evolution of the use of beer in American food recipes, I hope to convince readers that beer, the drink of the common man, might be more appropriate and more user-friendly in less esoteric culinary excursions. After reading through a number of contemporary beer & food cookbooks, I couldn’t stop from thinking, “What ever happened to the old simple recipe of soaking bratwurst overnight in beer and then throwing them on the grill?”

        Initially in a search for simpler recipes of food using beer, I decided instead to begin by looking back at the roots of American cookery and its use of beer as an ingredient, to discover when the marriage of food and beer really took hold in our country’ s colonial kitchens. Using food recipes from some of the earliest American cookbooks through an assortment of recipes from the publications of pre and post-Prohibition breweries that have long past into oblivion, I have gathered, edited and tested a generous collection of old tried-and-true attempts at bringing together American food and beer.

American Food Meets American Beer

A number of well intentioned individuals have sent me scores of purported recipes using beer in food from Medieval times and earlier during my early research efforts, but I have chosen instead to use nothing more than published recipes from American sources. My avoidance of European cookbooks is deliberate, an acknowledgment of the chasm that developed in the late 1790s between cookbooks using English-styled recipes and ingredients and the first publication of a true American cookbook in 1796, written by an American using ingredients indigenous to the New World. With the beginnings of a uniquely American cuisine (actually a fusion of the best and most practical recipes from English cuisine) runs the parallel development of the United States brewing industry.

Like early American cooking efforts, early brewers also utilized indigenous ingredients for their brews. Amelia Simmons’ ground-breaking American Cookery, or The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the Best Modes of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and All Kinds of Cakes….Adapted to this Country and All Grades of Life, makes no mention of beer or ale using the customary malted barley in any of her food recipes but does give instructions for the brewing of “spruce beer” and the use of “emptins” to leaven bread, a fermenting mixture of wild hops and starch. The lactic but leavening quality of this mixture was usually aided with the addition of saleratus, a naturally forming white crystalline substance having a sweetening alkaline quality, used like today’s baking soda. With the chemical reaction of the alkaline saleratus and the sour or lactic quality of a home made yeast, a leavening effect was assured. This homemade yeast starter, more a staple of forced necessity than choice, was a virtual cauldron of unpredictability, an aspect of fermentation that also plagued early commercial brewing efforts.

The preparation of spruce beer and the use of emptins in the kitchen hint at the widespread lack of high grade English malt or reliable brewing yeasts in many parts of the colonies, at least before the Revolutionary War. To a degree, this regression in brewing is startling. During the 1600s, settlements in the New Netherland and New England colonies had actually developed more than the semblance of a brewing industry in the Americas. Excessive taxation by local politicians of commercial beer and the abundance of cheap imported West Indies rum had caused the young American brewing industry to retreat to colonial households.

G. Thomman, in his 1909 book, American Beer, Glimpses of Its History and Description of Its Manufacture notes that good quality ingredients for brewing in the colonies were often difficult to attain during this era.

“…at one time the importation of malt was forbidden, in order to stimulate domestic malting; yet, within a short time thereafter, the malting of domestic wheat, rye and barley was prohibited on account of the scarcity of these cereals. At another time, a desire to encourage the exportation of wheat led to the enactment of a law imposing upon a brewers a fine of ten shillings for every bushel of wheat used in brewing. Ordinances encouraging brewing by exempting beer from taxation were counteracted in their contemplated effects by regulations prescribing the quality and fixing the price of malt liquors without regard to the increased cost of materials and production.”

 

By the late 1600s, even New York and Pennsylvania, where the brewing industry had flourished, fell into disrepair, though a few breweries continued to operate in Philadelphia, brewing quality porters and other ales. The widespread result of excessive taxation of beer and the lack of good quality brewing materials brought about not only a hodgepodge of unpalatable home brews using indigenous American ingredients such as corn, ginger, molasses or sassafras, but also a lack of readily available sources of good quality “barm,” or brewer’s yeast. Without this catalyst for fermentation, it often became difficult to make either a palatable home brew or a consistent supply of commercial malt beverages for those few breweries that still attempted to ply their trade.

The use of brewer’s yeast in households to leaven bread would eventually become a practice that would establish itself in the early 1800s of American home and commercial baking when, not coincidentally, the brewing industry began to regroup and expand.

Small Beer

            This is not to say that beer was completely lacking in the colonies during the Revolutionary War era. Victor S. Clark in his History of Manufactures in the United States talks of the humble retreat of the American brewing industry.

            “When the Constitution was adopted many housewives still brewed small beer for their families, and for fifty years thereafter numerous village breweries continued in operation with an equipment and a volume of business hardly exceeding those of a village bakery…”

 

            This “small beer” that Clark speaks of was a weak brew, meant to be consumed almost immediately after it was brewed. Its lower alcoholic strength, and oftentimes lack in the brew of hops with their preservative qualities, necessitated quick consumption since the proper sanitation of brewing equipment and storage vessels and the chemistry involved in making a proper beer were sorely lacking. The unpredictability of a successful batch of beer was based on an all too common reliance on wild yeasts to activate the fermentation. Most household yeast starters were filled with the wild yeast qualities of Saccharomyces exiguus and Lactobacillus bacteria. More often than not, these two critters would win the battle for survival in the young brew even if the beer-making Saccaromyces cerevisae yeast was present. This unpredictable blending of yeasts was just the right mixture of mischievous fungi for setting off the leavening of sourdough bread, the deliberate (though more often than not, accidental) making of vinegar and the occasional batch of good-quality beer.

The result was often a spoiled batch of beer or one that could turn quickly, whether brewed at home or in the few commercial breweries of the era. If consumed quickly, however, there was the chance that the wild yeasts that had caused the fermentation to occur did not have time enough to completely spoil the brew, fended off, perhaps, by the valiant efforts of a particularly determined colony of Saccaromyces cerevisaeyeast. In other words, early brewing efforts were often a crapshoot, an example of brewing being more of an art then a science.

American cookbooks of this era and beyond occasionally used “sour beer” as an ingredient in recipes, also described as stale beer. Lydia Maria Francis Child in The Frugal Housewife: Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy, Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830, suggested the addition of soured beer as a substitution for wine in stew-like dishes, either liquid ingredient having the necessary acidity to tenderize meat. Another mention of what to do with sour beer can be found in another recipe in her book for making batter for fritters or pancakes. Many contemporary batter recipes using beer still call for flat beer, a reflection of its earliest use when beer soured and was often left devoid of any natural carbonation. The call for flat beer for batters in today’s cookbooks serve no purpose different than the usage of carbonated beer; it merely is a holdover from the days of an abundance of flat beer. Waste not, want not — but contemporary recipe book authors merely reflect a centuries-old practice, unaware of why flat beer is called for.

If the household supply of beer had soured beyond all hope, Child’s book also suggested a mixture of the beer, molasses, water and a vinegar starter, all of which could be added to the family’s never-ending barrel of homemade vinegar. Not only did this practice illustrate the reality of beer turning bad on a regular basis but also Ms. Child’s and the early American settlers’ frugal philosophy of “waste not, want not.” It’s no wonder that some early American breweries also sidelined as vinegar purveyors. What better way to profit from a failed batch of beer!

            A manuscript of George Washington’s writings includes this recipe for small beer.

 

“Take a large Siffer [Sifter] of Bran…Hops to your Taste—Boil these 3 hours then strain out 30 Gall[ons] into a Cooler  put in 3 Gall[ons] Molasses while the Beer is Scalding hot or rather draw the Molasses into the Cooler & St[r]ain the Beer on it while boiling Hot.  Let this stand till it is a little more than Blood warm then put in a quart of Yea[s]t  if the Weather is very Cold cover it over with a Blank[et] & let it Work in the Cooler 24 hours then put it into the Cask—leave the Bung [Stopper] open till it almost don[e] Working—Bottle it that day Week it was brewed.”

 

            The unknown variables in this recipe for beer by President Washington would be frightening for any modern-day brewer, a mention of sanitation procedures and the quality of the yeast strain lacking in Washington’s brewing instructions. It’s a wonder whether the father of our country was a better brewer or maker of vinegar!

 

Don’t Go Near the Water

            If the brewing of beer was such a crapshoot, with the final product often destined to succumb to spoilage, why did early Americans even bother to brew? More than likely, the reason was poor quality water, or more accurately, the perception of bad, unpotable water. Now this might seem an odd notion considering the pristine rivers, babbling streams and crystal clear bodies of water that the early settlers surely came upon in the New World. Immigrants, however, had seen what polluted water could do to a once healthy person in the Old World. Diseases like typhoid and dysentery were common in built up areas such as established European cities and large villages. Though the concept of bacteria and its connection to hygiene were yet unknown, there was an almost inherent knowledge, shared from the educated lawmaker to the lowly peasant that the consumption of water seemed to foster disease.

Little wonder why. By the 1700s, many European waters were already polluted with human waste. Add to that the run off from tanneries and slaughterhouses and other industries that found the local rivers and lakes to be ideal dumping grounds for the unwanted by-products of their industrial efforts.

            When settlers arrived in the New World, their wariness of drinking any water was understandable. However, by boiling water and getting an infusion of fermentables from ingredients such as spruce, corn, barley or bran, as Washington’s beer recipe shows, the people of the Colonists era sensed that boiling was critical in insuring a healthy drink. It’s no wonder that beer, hot cocoa drinks, tea, and later coffee, all had the common element of using boiled water. Even potions such as rum toddies, oftentimes diluted with water, were finalized before consumption with the insertion of a glowing red poker to stir the concoction and heat the drink to a frothy boil.

 

Strong Beer

            There are recorded instances, however, of the higher-strength “strong beer” or “ship’s beer” also being used in some early American food recipes. In the these instances, the brew could be used in the place of a fortified Madeira, but for the most part, the strongest beers were sought out by the landed gentry who could afford them and stored away with the household’s supply of expensive wines. In other words, they were meant to be savored by beer drinkers as intended and not necessarily as a cooking ingredient. These beers were typically imported from England and brewed using quality malts and more reliable yeast strains and astringently hopped for a preservative effect. Strong beer’s use in early recipes, however, does occasionally show up in cookbooks of this era.

 

To Stew Brisket of Beef

Having rubbed the brisket with common salt and saltpetre, let it lie four days. Then lard the skin with fat bacon, and put it into a stew pan with a quart of water; a pint of red wine, or strong beer, half a pound of butter, a bunch of sweet herbs, three or four shallot, some pepper and half a nutmeg grated. Covet the pan very close. Stew it over a gentle fire for six hours. Then fry some square pieces of boiled turnips very brown. Strain the liquor the beef was stewed in, thicken it with burnt butter, and having mixed the turnips with it, pour all together over the beef in a large dish. Serve it up hot, and garnish with lemon sliced.

Susannah Carter, The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Liands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

           

Expansion of the Brewing Industry

As the country continued to develop and expand, a number of things occurred that reinstigated the brewing of beer on a commercial scale, limiting the need for home brewing and even the necessity of small rural taverns to simultaneously act as boarding rooms, eateries, stables and ersatz breweries. Although normal trade relations with Englandwere interrupted again with the War of 1812, and with it, the importation of good quality English malt, the growing of native barley as a cash crop had increased substantially in the states to fill the void of imported brewing grains. This indigenous grain of six-row barley, along with the deliberate cultivation of the wild hops that could be found in the rural areas of much of the East Coast, brought together the necessary ingredients to make a qualffable beer.

One of the first brewers’ of note during the expansion of the early American brewing industry was Matthew Vassar. This brewer shrugged off the destruction by fire of his brewery in 1811 and restarted his brewing business soon after. Although his initial efforts amounted to no more than the brewing of three barrels of beer at a time, the reputation of his products gave him enough capital to open up a saloon in the basement of the Poughkeepsie, New York courthouse to sell his products. Vassar is more well-known for his later founding of Vassar College, but for our purposes, it is interesting to note that he also was responsible for introducing oysters to the beer drinkers of Poughkeepsie, years before the philanthropist provided the capital for the institution of an all-womans’ college. I’m still amazed at beer enthusiasts today who gush over the notion of pairing a dark beer with oysters when the practice had bee commonplace for centuries. An absolutely delightful book about the importance of the American oyster trade, centered around New York City, is Mark Kurlansky’s “The Big Oyster,” History of the Half Shell. Stopping in the many “oyster saloons” in New York for a dozen freshly-schucked oysters and washing them down with beer was a common indulgence.

His father, James, also a brewer, had a reputation years earlier for brewing quality ales, milds, porters and small beers, as well as the selling of “skimmings” or yeasty barm to families for the use in baking products. Those families that had access to brewery yeast found that it helped to make a good quality leavened bread.

This bread recipe below also takes advantage of corn meal, often called “Indian meal” or simply “Indian” in early American cookbooks.

 

Rye and Indian Bread

Sift two quarts of rye, and two quarts of Indian meal, and mix them well together. Boil three pints of milk; pour in boiling hot upon the meal; add two teaspoonfuls of salt, and stir the whole very hard. Let it stand till it becomes of only a lukewarm heat, and then stir in half a pint of good fresh yeast; if from the brewery and quite fresh, a smaller quantity will suffice. Knead the mixture into stiff dough, and set it to rise in a pan. Cover it with a thick cloth that has been previously warmed, and set it near the fire. When it is quite light, and has cracked all over the top, make it into two loaves, put them into a moderate oven, and bake them two hours and a half.

Esther Allen Howland, The New England Economical Housekeeper, and Family Receipt Book, Cincinnati: H.W. Derby, 1845

 

By the early 1800s, however, the brewing of good quality ale had once again become more common place, especially in regions where German immigrants had settled. Pennsylvania was particularly noted as the leading brewing center of the United States during the first few decades of the nineteenth century, with New York, Massachusetts and Maryland adding to the beginnings of large scale brewing in America. By 1850, four hundred and thirty-one breweries accounted for 23,267,730 gallons of beer, and with it, a more common source of brewer’s yeast for baking.

 

The Temperance Effect on Cooking

Part of this expansion of the American brewing trade was a result of the inadvertent influence of the early temperance movement to steer imbibers to the lower-strength malted beverages. This movement was a reaction to the free-wheeling countryside bootlegging of whiskey and the importation of cheap rum into the U.S. At the time, drunkenness was a problem in the states, especially in the rural areas where a bumper crop of bulky corn could be easily mashed and distilled into the more portable and potent American whiskey. Though whiskey could be used as a bartering tool in the back woods and farm lands where money was scarce, it was also subject to abuse by settlers during the downtime of the winter months. Various government efforts were made to convert whiskey drinkers to the less inebriating enjoyment of malted beverages. By the 1880s, beer, or more specifically, lager beer, would indeed take over in popularity as the drink of the common man. Unfortunately, decades later, U.S. brewers, boastful creators of the resultant “drink of moderation,” would also find themselves targeted by both advocates of temperance and the more forceful prohibition movement.

In a reflection of the times, this first wave of American temperance in the 1830s was not only exhibited in the development of “dry” organizations such as the Washingtonian Movement and its Total Abstinence Society, ironically conceived in a Baltimore tippling house by a group of repentant drunks, but also in some cookbooks of the era. The dedication page of Ann Allen’s The Housekeeper’s Assistant, Composed Upon Temperance Principles: With Instructions In The Art of Making Plain And Fancy Cakes, Puddings, Pastry, Confectionery, Ice Creams, Jellies, Blanc Mange: Also, For The Cooking Of All The Various Kinds of Meats…, Boston, J. Munroe, 1845, preaches to readers that the “authoress” has dedicated the book to the temperance movement and hints of the apparent use of liquor [most likely including beer] in everyday cooking. In the dedication, Allen vows that she does not use alcoholic drinks “…as a beverage or in cookery.”

By the 1840s, as some states started to wrestle with the gradual move from the softer-stanced temperance movement and towards the harsher prohibition of the manufacture and consumption of all alcoholic drinks, a new type of beer would come on to the American scene, one that would change the history of the United States brewing industry and begin to seal the relationship between food and beer.

 

Food Recipes of the pre-Lager Era

There are various example of yeast recipes for home baking during the years before lager beer, some using the very American pumpkin as a fermentable yeast starter, bran, indigenous white potatoes and the chancy emptins concoction, as described earlier. The following recipe for a yeast starter utilized malt from a local brewery and, though it’s not explicitly stated here, probably also utilized a sample of good quality yeast from the same brewery. The publication of this cookbook in 1840 by Eliza Leslie reflected the growing, and for many, the more familiar sight of a local brewery in the immediate area. Yeast starter recipes for the next few decades usually recommend picking up either malt or yeast barm from a brewery, a luxury the household cook couldn’t envision from the colonial era until the early to mid-1830s or so.

Also note the addition of pearl ash in the yeast to counteract the inevitable souring of the starter that sat around a little bit too long. Potash, as it’s more commonly known today, was originally obtained from wood ashes and used to counteract the eventual lactic qualities of a yeast starter with its alkaline properties. Its usage was similar to that of saleratus.

Also note that by the time of this recipe book’s publication in 1840, molasses had become an everyday-cooking ingredient, this New World sweetener having replaced the once traditional English treacle in U.S. cooking usage.

 

Baker’s Yeast

To a gallon of soft water, put two quarts of wheat bran, one quart of ground malt (which may be obtained from a brewery), and two handfuls of hops. Boil them together for half an hour. Then strain it through a sieve, and let it stand till it is cold; after which put in two large tea-cups of molasses, and half a pint of strong yeast. Pour it into a stone jug, and let it stand uncorked till next morning. Then pour off the thin liquid from the top, and cork the jug tightly. When you are going to use this yeast, if it has been made two or three days, stir in a little pearl-ash dissolved in warm water, allowing a lump the size of a hickory-nut to a pint of yeast. This will correct any tendency to sourness, and make the yeast more brisk.

 

Eliza Leslie, Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches. Philadelphia: E.L. Carey & Hart, 1840

********************************************

Though many of the soup/stew-type recipes of the late 1700s and early 1800s call for the addition of Madiera, red wine or, as a last resort, sour beer, as a tenderizing ingredient, this soup is an example of the much rarer use of ale, simply as a flavoring component.

Asparagus Soup

Take five or six pounds of lean beef, cut into lumps and rolled in flour; put into your stew-pan, with two or three slices of fat bacon at the bottom; then put over a slow fire, and cover it close, stirring it now and then till the gravy is drawn: then put in it two quarts of water and half a pint of ale. Cover it close, and let it stew gently for an hour with some whole pepper, and salt to your mind; then strain off the liquor, and take off the fat; put in the leaves of white beets, some spinach, some cabbage, lettuce, a little mint, some sorrel, and a little sweet marjoram powdered; [after removing fat from the gravy, pour back into the stew] let these boil up in your liquor, then put in the green tops of asparagus cut small, and let them boil till all is tender. Serve it up hot, with a French roll in the middle.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

 

            Below is another example of ale being used for flavoring, not as a tenderizer. Note that this recipe specifically calls for “…good table beer.”

************************************************

 

To Make a Craw Fish Soup

 

Cleanse them [the crawfish], and boil them in water, salt and spice: pull off their feet and tails, and fry them [the crawfish, not the feet and tails]; break the rest of them [the feet and tails] in a stone mortar, season them with savory spice, and an onion, a hard egg, grated bread, and sweet herbs boiled in good table beer; strain it, and put to it scalded chopped parsley, and French rolls; then put in the fried craw fish, with a few mushrooms. Garnish the dish with sliced lemon, and the feet and tail of a craw fish.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

*************************************************

 

            Though we’ll see numerous interpretations of stew using beer as an ingredient throughout the book, this early recipe holds up well throughout the scores of stew recipes of the next two centuries. Note, however, that red wine is the first choice as an ingredient, not beer.

Burnt or dried bread is often called for in early gravy-based dishes to thicken the sauce.

 

To Stew Beef

Take four pounds of stewing beef, with the hard fat of brisket beef cut in pieces; put these into a stew-pan with three pints of water, a little salt, pepper, dried marjorum powdered and three cloves. Cover the pan very close and let it stew four hours over a slow fire. Then throw into it as much turnips and carrots cut into square pieces, as you think convenient; and the white part of a large leek, two heads of celery shred fine, a crust of bread burnt, and half a pint of red wine (or good small beer will do as well). Then pour it all into a soup-dish and serve it up hot, garnish with boiled and slice carrot.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

 

**************************************************

 

Dutch Cakes

 

Take five pounds of flour, two ounces of caraway seeds, half a pound of sugar, and something more than a pint of milk, put into it three quarters of a pound of butter, then make a hole in the middle of the flour, and put in a full pint of good ale-yeast: pour in the butter and milk, and make these into a paste, letting it stand a quarter of an hour before the fire to rise; then mould it, and roll into cakes pretty thin; prick them all over pretty much, or they will blister, and bake them a quarter of an hour.

 

Susannah Carter. The Frugal Housewife: Or, Complete Woman Cook; Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts… New York, Printed and sold by G. & R. Waite, no. 64, Maidenlane, 1803

*************************************************

Read More In Beer & Food: An American History

Review

“The first book that gives a historical look at why beer and food are truly partners in today’s kitchens.”  —John R. Hall, president, Goose Island Beer Company
“Kudos to Bob Skilnik for creating this absorbing and informative resource.”  —Keith Lemcke, marketing manager, World Brewing Academy
“This enjoyable read merits a pint of your favorite ale by your side, so you may sip and browse throughout!”  —Lucy Saunders, editor, Beercook.com, and author, Grilling with Beer
“A tasty history, from beer soup to Beer Nuts, with pickled pigs’ feet in between.”  —Don Russell, a.k.a. “Joe Sixpack,” beer reporter, Philadelphia Daily News

 

 

 

Advertisements

Posted in Beer & Food Pairings, Beer And Food Pairing, Beer History, Beer In Food, Book Reviews, Books & Beer, Cooking With Beer, Food History, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer, Plugs | 2 Comments »

Superbowl Chili #2

Posted by Bob Skilnik on January 16, 2008

chili.jpg2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion (chopped)
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 can/bottle beer (Negra Modelo would be nice, but use a soft pilsner in lieu of)
1 28-ounce can kidney beans, preferably the spiced beans made for chili

Heat olive oil in heavy fry pan or Dutch oven. Add meat and onion. Cook until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add remaining ingredients except kidney beans. Stir and cover. Simmer one hour, stirring occasionally. Drain kidney beans and add to the pot. Simmer 20 minutes. Stir frequently. Serve with grated sharp cheddar or jalepeno cheese, sour cream and chopped green onions.

Open windows during half-time.

Serves 6.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Leave a Comment »

Superbowl Chili #1

Posted by Bob Skilnik on January 10, 2008

shinerbockpouredinchili.jpg

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil; more as needed
2 large sweet onions, diced (about 4 cups)
2 large fresh poblano peppers (or green bell peppers), stemmed, seeded, and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt; more to taste
4-1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks, 3 to 4 inches long
3 tablespoons New Mexico chile powder (or 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder)
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
12-ounce bottle amber ale, such as Shiner Bock, Dos Equis Amber, or Huber Bock
1-1/2 quarts homemade or low-salt beef broth
For the garnish:
2 14-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
12 ounces sour cream or whole-milk plain yogurt

how to make

In a 12-inch skillet, heat 2 table-spoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute’ until softened, translucent, and starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the poblanos, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the poblanos soften, another 8 to 10 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add a little more olive oil. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté for another 5 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 table-spoon olive oil in an 8-quart or larger Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the beef cubes until browned and crusty on two sides, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. With a slotted spoon, transfer the browned beef to a bowl. During searing, it’s fine if the pan bottom gets quite dark, but if it smells like it’s burning, reduce the heat a bit. If the pan ever gets dry, add a little more oil.

Once all the beef is seared and set aside, add the onions and peppers to the pan, along with the bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, chile powders, cumin, and cloves and cook, stirring, until the spices coat the vegetables and are fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly add the beer while scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to dissolve the coating of spices. Simmer until the beer is reduced by about half and the mixture has thickened slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the beef, along with any accumulated juices, and the beef broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Test a cube of meat—you should be able to cut it with a spoon. Discard the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

If not serving immediately, chill overnight. The next day, skim any fat from the top, if necessary, before reheating.

To serve, heat the chili gently. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about 2 cups of the beef cubes to a plate. Shred the meat with a fork and return it to pot. (The shredded meat will help create a thicker texture.) Taste and add more salt if needed. Heat the beans in a medium bowl covered with plastic in the microwave (or heat them gently in a saucepan). Arrange the beans, chopped red onion, tomatoes, cilantro, and sour cream in small bowls to serve as garnishes with the chili.

Serves 8.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Beer Stewed Pork & Green Chile

Posted by Bob Skilnik on January 7, 2008

 Serves: 8                                                                                                        chile_1.jpg 

4 pounds pork shoulder, butt — cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons flour
1 pound poblano pepper — about 5, aka pasilla chiles
2 whole jalapeno pepper — or more or less to suit your taste, minced
1 pound tomatillos — cut in eighths
1 medium onion — peeled and diced
6 whole garlic cloves — minced
6 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons oregano
2/3 cup fresh cilantro — or more if desired, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups beer
1/2 cup masa harina
2/3 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
 

1. Cut the poblanos in half, seed (and remove the white ribs) and lay out on a roasting pan, skin sides up. Rub each with a bit of olive oil, then broil until blackened. Remove to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 20 minutes, then gently remove the skin. It should come right off if you’re careful. Dice the chiles and set aside. 

2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-duty soup pot saute the onion in olive oil until just cooked, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Do not brown the garlic. Turn off the heat and set aside. 

3. Sprinkle the meat cubes with salt, pepper and some flour. In a large round skillet (or two, if you have them, because this takes awhile) heat olive oil and brown the pork cubes. Do not crowd the pan or they’ll steam rather than brown. The crusty stuff adds lots of flavor to the stew. You may have to do several batches. As the pork is done, add it to the soup pot. 

4. Once the meat browning is complete, add the chicken stock, beer, tomatillos, half the cumin, oregano and the jalapenos. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and low simmer, without a lid, for about an hour. 

5. Add the remaining cumin, oregano and about half of the cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste, if needed. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you can see visible fat floating on top, remove with a flattish spoon or ladle. 

6. Add the poblano chiles and simmer for another 30-45 minutes until the meat is fork tender. Use a lid if the mixture is getting too thick (or add a little bit of water). 

7. Remove a bit of the stew liquid to a small bowl and add the masa harina – with some additional water to get it to smooth out to a thin paste, then slowly stir this into the stew. Continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes until thickened. Serve in bowls with sour cream dollop on top, additional cilantro sprigs and hot flour tortillas on the side. 

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer | Leave a Comment »

Kugelis—Break Out A Baltic Porter And Eat Like A Lithuanian

Posted by Bob Skilnik on October 5, 2007

For Your Kugelis Kravings

For Your Kugelis Kravings

UPDATE:  I totally forgot about posting this info until I saw that there has been a recent run on hits to this particular  post. Some of you wanted info on purchasing a mechanized potato grinder, a “Kugelis machine,” to quicken the time needed for grinding 5, 10 or more pounds of peeled potatoes. When grinding, time is of the essence if you want to retain nice, white ground potatoes. They’ll oxidize after being ground and will turn greyish. This won’t change the taste; it just looks funky.

Here’s the info:   http://www.granddukesrestaurant.com/

They have a Lithuanian store/deli down the road from the restaurant. The restaurant site is  http://www.granddukesrestaurant.com/ .  The link to the store/deli is on the restaurant website, it’s Lietuvele    http://lietuvele.com/

That’s where you can definitely get the machine with links at the site in English and Lithunian, with some Lugan songs playing (too loudly) in the background on the index page.  You should call before making the trip  (Phone 1-773-788 1362 or e-mail lietuvele@sbcglobal.net  ). Here’s a direct link to the potato grater  http://www.lietuvele.com/osc/index.php?cPath=17

Check to see if it comes with a 120v motor or a 220v. If it’s a 220v, you’ll need a stepdown transformer too.
**************************************
thumb_the_session_beer_food.gifI think I was about 18 years old, too young to legally enjoy a beer in my hometown of Chicago, but already trying my damndest to try to get used to the taste of beer.

I had a friend at the time who’s parents were a bit understanding about teen-age boys and beer drinking and would allow us the occasional beer drinking party, as long as we spent the night and dropped our car keys into their hands before the beer came out.

My buddy’s parents were Lithuanian, having come “over on the boat” sometime after World War II. At the time, it was necessary for WW II refugees to get on a list and arrange sponsorship with a family here and prove that their was a job waiting for them before they could arrive in the U.S.                                                                   

Typically the sponsors here in the U.S. were second generation Lithuanian-Americans whose parents had been in the States since the Third Great Migration, anywhere between 1885 and before World War I.

They did it the right way, no sneaking over and demanding signs and voting ballots in English and Lithuanian, learned English as soon as possible once they arrived here, and practiced a frugality that most cradle-born Americans never learned. Work hard, pay cash and eat hearty, even if the food had its origins in farmer-like simplicities.

My friend’s mom would ensure that we kept somewhat sober by serving this weird dish called kugelis, a baked potato pudding that was loaded with bacon and all its drippings, butter, onions, and all kinds of different ingredients that each Lithuanian mother usually kept secret. It’s the kind of deceptive practice that prize-winning chili makers exercise; they give you (almost) all the ingredients of their prize-winning chili, but for some reason, yours never comes out quite as tasty as theirs. If you’ve ever seen the “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Marie relabels some of her spices so poor Deborah could never get the taste of some Italian specialty quite the same as Marie’s, you know what I’m talking about.

Lithuanian kugelis makers like to practice the same bit of deception, but no matter what the end result, as I learned many years ago, a piece of two of warm kugelis, maybe with a dollop of sour cream on top, goes so good with beer. Doesn’t really have to be a beer from the Baltic States; any beer will do with a hearty dish like this.

While kugelis is considered a unique Lithuanian food, there are European food similarities, including the Jewish potato kugel, and the somewhat similar potato pancake, potato-based recipes that a number of Central and Eastern European countries enjoy. While the small neighboring countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are lumped together as “the Baltic States,” this dish is truly indigenous to Lithuania. There is no regional influence in this recipe, but kugelis has developed into a very hearty peasant dish that took advantage of Lithuania’s abundant and perennial crop of potatoes and pork (bacon) as a meat staple.

So at the risk of having my mother-in-law—who’s also Lithuanian—banish me from her house, I’m going to give you her “secret” formula for one of the most satisfying things you could ever eat with a beer wash. And like chili, I play around with this recipe. Add a few more eggs and the dish will be fluffier or use one or two less and the kugelis will be heavier. Same with the bacon. I sometimes use 1 1/4 pounds (and all the bacon grease) and switch to a large onion rather than a medium-sized one.

Making kugelis is like making homebrew; there’s an artistry involved, so once you get the hang of this, improvise to your heart’s (and stomach’s) content!

One other tip. Don’t ever tell a Lithuanian woman that her kugelis is good, but that Mrs. Stankus down the block makes a tastier version. I once told my mother-in-law about an old girl friend’s mother (also Lithuanian—I’ve got a thing about Lithuanian girls, I guess) who used to make a fluffier—and I thought, tastier—version. That was 25 years ago, and now I understand why the Russians left Lithuania.

Sofija’s Kugelis (Potato Pudding)

Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cooking Time: 2 Hours

 

5 pounds of Idaho white potatoes. Years of experience have proven that Idahos make the best kugelis.

6 eggs, beaten

1 pound bacon

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 stick butter

1 cup heated milk

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon ascorbic acid (or 4 vitamin C tablets, crushed)

Preheat oven to 425F.

 

Peel the potatoes into a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Finely grate potatoes and add the ascorbic acid to the potato mush keep the potatoes white. Don’t try to cheat and use a Cuisinart since the texture just won’t be the same. Without the inclusion of ascorbic acid or the vitamin C, the grated potatoes will turn grey before completion of the dish. We always like to think that the occasional grated skin from a finger or two also adds a flavor enhancement to the final product, so if you knick a knuckle or two, just think of how you’ll answer the question, “I can’t put my finger on it. What’s that delightful other meaty flavor in this?”

 

“My secret ingredient. Don’t worry about it. Did you watch the Cubs fold last night? Need another beer?”

 

Cut bacon into small pieces and add to a 12-14 inch frying pan. Cook on medium heat and stir occasionally. When the bacon is very lightly cooked, add the chopped onion. Although it can be a minor balancing act, the bacon should be almost cooked through while the onions become translucent. Remove pan from heat and add the stick of butter to the bacon, onions and grease and stir until the butter’s melted

 

Into the grated potatoes, pour the bacon and ALL the grease. Stir lightly and add the 6 beaten eggs. Add salt, pepper and sour cream. Mix thoroughly.

 

Liberally grease a 9” x 13″ x 2″ pan with butter. A Pyrex-type glass pan will help control any excess browning of the edges, but a metal pan will work fine. Pour in the potato mixture.

 

Place in preheated oven (425F) and cook ½ hour. When kugelis shows slight browning around the edges of the pan, bring oven temperature down to 350F and cook another 45-60 minutes until top is golden brown. Cover pan with aluminum foil and cook another 30 until pudding is firm. Give the pan a slight shake to test for firmness. Remove from oven and let sit ½ hour.

 

Serve as a stand alone entrée or as a side dish. Top off each individual serving with a generous dollop of sour cream.

If you need to double this recipe, it’s best to use two 9” x 13” x 2” pans rather than one large one. The cooking can be uneven with a larger pan.

 

If you have any kugelis left over, slice it thin the next morning—about the thickness of a slice of bread—and fry it on both sides in unsalted, sweet butter until heated through and golden brown. Look, the grease will probably kill you anyway, so have a breakfast beer with your kugelis and get over it.

 

babushkaswithcomputer.jpg

 

Posted in Beer & Food Pairings, Beer And Food Pairing, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

Food Recipes of the Repeal Era and Beyond, Part IV

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 20, 2007

Editor’s Note: Before reading this installment to Beer & Food: An American History, keep in mind that these recipes represent the beginning of the American brewing industry’s pairing and use of beer in food. Up until the post-Prohibition era, most written instances of beer used in food were merely attempts to reconcile what to do with spoiled and stale beer.

As you look through the upcoming segments with their food recipes, keep this thought in mind; many contemporary food recipes reflect an evolution of food preparation. Switch an ingredient or two, maybe add a foodstuff that no one ever heard of 15 or 20 years ago and you’re working with a newer interpretation of an old standard.

If you want to catch-up before reading Part IV, here are links to

Part I     Part II      Part III    

More info about Beer & Food: An American History by me, Bob Skilnik (with a foreword by Jim Koch from The Boston Beer Co) here.

**********************

With the war winding down, brewers continued their public relations campaign to keep beer in the kitchen, or better yet, simply in the home. The publishing firm of Frederic H. Girnau Creations of Minneapolis, Minnesota, took an approach similar to the pre-Prohibition Mendelsohn recipe books. By utilizing a couple of different culinary themes, Girnau helped promote various regional breweries with his collection of hefty-sized booklets—Famous International Themes, 300 New Ways of Making Delicious Sandwiches, the Sandwich Book of All Nations, Tried and Tested Cookie Recipes, Fish and Sea-Food Cookery, How to Prepare Wild Game & Fowl, Madame Chiang’s Chinese Cook Book (with the helpful hint that the recipes were “Translated in English”), Housewives Home Canning Methods, and lastly, How to Cook with Beer.

 

With ads for various competing brews placed between the same stock recipes in each booklet, cooks could learn the intricacies of preparing Chicago Style Chow Mein Noodles, Calf’s Head Stew, Tutti-Frutti Sandwiches, Potato Doughnuts, and obvious regional delights such as Bear Northern Style, Roast Raccoon, or Porcupine—probably all an acquired taste—and that old beer drinkers’ favorite, at least in publisher Girnau’s mind, Striped Bass Pudding.

 

While it’s amusing for city-slickers to look back at many of these dishes and laugh, there’s a lot of colonial-era frugality still involved here, all the more obvious when one considers the strong rural landscape that continued to exist in the U.S. in the ’40s. The philosophy of waste not, want not continued.

 

Although the food recipes were the same, two of Girnau’s How to Cook with Beer booklets displayed an interesting contrast in how the American Brewing Company of Miami, Florida, and the Minneapolis-based Gluek Brewing Company decided to handle the introduction to the sixty-four-page recipe collection template. A.B.C. President Louis F. Garrard took the customary approach of most brewers, using the book template format that Girnau provided. Garrard pointed out “…the importance of beer as a delicious cooking ingredient,” noting the importance of including beer in food recipes “…has been lost to our generation.” Garrard’s answer to this generational gap, of course, was to start including the use of the brewery’s Regal Premium Beer in the recipes provided.

 

The introduction to the Gluek Brewing Company’s recipe booklet, however, took a different approach, giving President and Chairman Edward V. Lahey of the United Brewers Industrial Foundation a forum to lay out the economic and social benefits of beer, all cooking aside. Of course, the Gluek booklet was also sprinkled with plugs for its Gluek beer, “The beer that speaks for itself.” A sample of Lahey’s introduction follows:

 

The brewing industry is a national asset in that it contributes importantly to the economic and social welfare of this country.

 

BEER ranks the top as a revenue source, contributing at the rate of about $700,000,000 annually in federal, state and local taxes. Since beer was re-legalized on April 7, 1933—after 13 years of Prohibition—combined revenues to public treasuries have exceeded ten billion dollars.

 

Beer, however, extends its economic benefits not only to public treasuries but also to many allied industries—agriculture, manufacturers of brewing equipment and machinery, bottles, cans, kegs, etc., and to the employment ranks, paying out about $300,000,000 annually in wages and salaries.

 

Socially, beer has served not only as a wholesome refreshment and adjunct to gracious living, but has been an aid to moderation and temperance. Military authorities have acclaimed beer also as a morale builder and as a factor in making the American Army, during World War II, the soberest in history.

 

Although the introductions to the brewers’ respective cookbooks varied in their focus, the intent was the same. Twentieth century beer had made it through the grain restrictions of the First World War, the blood-splattered years of bootlegging and Prohibition; had stumbled into American homes with the beginnings of Repeal; helped the troops to victory on two fronts, and was now ready to guide the nation through the post-war boom. It was time to really push beer into American homes and American lives. The Gluek and the American Brewing Company booklets touched on beer’s use as a flavor builder and food  seasoning. The real message, however, was clear; beer belonged not merely in the kitchen. Beer belonged in the home, whether it was included in food or not.

 

COMING SOON: PART V

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer History, Beer In Food, Books & Beer, Cooking With Beer, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Leave a Comment »

Oktoberfest Glazed Onion, Kraut & Apple Bratwurst Pizza (& Milk An Alpine Cow!)

Posted by Bob Skilnik on September 14, 2007

oktoberfest-beer-tent.jpg

I wanted so badly to video this recipe preparation but my camera is down and probably out for the count. Nonetheless, I swear to you that as silly as this recipes reads, IT’S DELICIOUS! The underlying sweetness that runs right over the lactic character of the Swiss cheese, the red pepper flakes and the somewhat medicinal tang of caraway seeds demands an Oktoberfest-styled beer.

Since my video camera is down, I’m asking one more time (for about the 100th time) that someone PLEASE send my a 10-minute or less video of this Oktoberfest Pizza’s preparation, or for that matter, any beer/food dish preparation. The first person to contact me ASAP with an assurance that their video rendition of this recipe is on the way will receive a signed copy of “Beer & Food: An American History” and my everlasting gratitude.

Don’t forget. Oktoberfest actually begins in September, the 22nd this year if I remember correctly. Click on the official link to this yearly German spectacle and learn all about its history, the famous beer tents, and how to curse in German (better yet forget that. Just be familiar with the terms if someone happens to call you a Rauschada).

So here we go;

1 twelve to fourteen inch prepared pizza crust
2 tablespoons of a Bavarian Style sweet mustard. Please don’t use a Dijohn.

For the Topping:

8 quarter-inch slices of cored and peeled tart apple. Granny Smith, for instance.
3 tablespoons (or more) of a light bodied olive oil, divided
2 cups of thin-sliced yellow onions, about a pound or so
1 1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, or better yet, a light-colored dry malt extract
1 cup of well rinsed and dried sauerkraut
1/4 cup of an Oktoberfest beer, with its typical somewhat sweet character
2 tablespoons of a Bavarian Style mustard
1/2 pound of Swiss cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 pound of pre-cooked veal bratwurst, thinly-sliced (the white, finely-ground kind)                           precooked-veal-bratwurst.jpg
red pepper flakes to taste (don’t go wild with them or you’ll ruin the sweet balance of the toppings)
1/4 teaspoon of caraway seeds, roughly crushed
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 450F. Brush the pizza crust with the 2 tablespoons of Bavarian sweet mustard

Heat a heavier frying pan (cast iron, stainless, etc) and coat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute the apple slices until their lightly browned, then remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Don’t crowd the pan or the apples might get mushy. After you remove the first batch, add some more oil if necessary and make sure it’s heated before you add more apple slices.

When you’re done with the apples, add at least 2 more tablespoons oil to the frying pan. Add the sliced onions and turn up the heat a bit for 2-3 minutes—just to get the carmelization of the onions going. Reduce the heat back to low, cover the pan and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionaly.

After 10 minutes, remove the cover and add the brown sugar (or dried malt extract) and the kraut and stir until its heated through.

Add the beer (and drink the rest) and cook at a high simmer until the mixture is somewhat glazed (and if you’ve been slamming a few too many Oktoberfest beers as you’re making this, you might be a bit glazed yourself. Slow down, we still have to bake this sucker!) Once the beer has evaporated, add the mustard, stir and remove the pan from the heat.

Grab the pizza crust and spread out half of the Swiss cheese on it. Now spread out the onion/kraut mixture on the crust. Top this with the sliced brats and cover with the rest of the Swiss.

Now layer it all with the apple rings and finish the pie off with the red pepper flakes, the caraway seeds and the Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted an bubbly.

Pull from the oven a let it sit a minute or two. Sliced right, you’ll get 8-servings and just as many compliments.
************

While you’re enjoying you Oktoberfest pizza and too many beers, why not try your hand at milking some Alpine cows. Just watch out. These large-breasted German beauties are hiding baseball bats behind them! Click on “Spiel Starten” when you are ready to play.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Cooking With Malt Extract | Leave a Comment »

Barleywine Pork Ribs

Posted by Bob Skilnik on August 6, 2007

redbbqpit.gifAdventures in Beer Tasting recently posted this interesting recipe for Barleywine Pork Ribs so I though I’d post it here too. In all honesty, I’d probably skip the barleywine in lieu of whiskey (why? Because I’d drink it before I threw it in as a basting misxture) that’s also added as a possible substitute for the bbq-ribs.jpgbarleywine. In any case, here it goes;

Dry rub: 2 tbsp black pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 tbsp celery salt, chili powder, and ½ cup brown sugar. Rub half of the dry rub thoroughly onto both sides of the ribs. Place ribs in a zip closure bag or covered container and let marinate overnight in your refrigerator. Reserve the remaining dry rub to use on the ribs prior to cooking.

Basting mixture: mix 1 cup of barleywine or ½ cup whiskey and ½ cup cider vinegar with ¼ cup of orange juice and 2tbsp of water. Reserve this mixture to apply half way through cooking and at the end.

Smoking instructions: Smoke your ribs using mesquite wood chips at 225 degrees farenheit for 4 hours.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer | Leave a Comment »

Food Recipes of the Repeal Era and Beyond, Part I

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 17, 2007

Beer can be used in hundreds of recipes to add flavor, point up the savor of other ingredients, turn old dishes into new exciting adventures.
Beer and Brewing in America, 1948

With the return of legal beer, the brewery industry faced the question of a possible change in consumer attitudes toward beer and its relationship to competing intoxicants. “The new status of women as beverage-consumers,” warned distribution consultant Paul T. Cherington, at a meeting of brewery representatives in early 1934, “the glamour of illicit consumption for fifteen years, the growth of the cocktail and the hip-flask habits…are factors of real weight in the new status of beverages…”

With worries that consumers might have grown weary of beer during Prohibition, the brewing industry began its second push during the twentieth century to place beer into American homes—and keep it there. Looking at its past approaches in trying to make malt syrup a kitchen staple during National Prohibition, the revived brewing industry took a similar approach by publishing food recipe books, booklets, and pamphlets that featured beer, not malt syrups, as a food ingredient or as a food accompaniment.

Until hundreds of recipes could be devised and kitchen tested, the earliest brewery publications chose to feature suggestions for beer paired with food, and not surprisingly, the tried-and-true foods of the saloon free lunch era were dragged out again. Suggestions of beer with salty pretzels and potato chips were mingled with calls for dark breads, cheeses, sausages, smoked meats, sandwiches, oysters, pickled foods, and side dishes of coleslaw and potato salad.

One of the earliest examples of a publication that matched beer and food was “Here’s how!” ~ and what to serve with BEER, by the Theo. Hamm Brewing Company. This twenty-four-page booklet helped set the stage for not only why beer should be served with beer-friendly foods, but also gave the hows. It’s amusing today to read through the detailed, but perhaps clichéd, suggestions from 1934 for preparing a “Lager Lunch,” a “Buffet Beer Supper,” a “Sunday Night Beer Supper,” or a “Swedish Ale Party Menu,” until one realizes that having beer in the home at the time, pairing it with food, and using these elements as an important part of home entertainment, was not clichéd at all. The notion of holding a home “beer party” was virgin territory, and because of this, the Hamm’s publication holds significance as it detailed the food and entertainment guidelines of Christine Frederick, a former household editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal. In setting up a “Beer Party Table,” for instance, Mrs. Frederick, also author of Household Engineering, advised using this festive decor:


Table cloths with bright, gay stripes, or the attractive “peasant” cloths with matching napkins…[and] tankards, pitchers and mugs…while on a small round or “beer-barrel” table, two narrow runners of crash toweling, placed crosswise, give a smart effect.


With the kind of care that contemporary beer geeks faithfully practice, the home economist added tips on how to serve beer, setting up rituals and practices that still hold true today.

Remove the cap from the bottle quickly and pour beer slowly against the side of the tilted glass. Beer should always be well chilled, but not too cold. Beer that is too icy loses the delicate flavor and life that makes it the most popular drink of today. Never under any circumstances put ice or ice cubes in beer. The water from the melting ice dilutes the beer and makes it unpalatable and flat…If you chill your beer in an automatic refrigerator, do not place bottles in the coldest compartment. A few hours in the bottom of the refrigerator will bring the beer to the right temperature.

Mrs. Frederick, however, allowing her “household management” skills to overshadow her skill with beer, gave the budding beer party hostess one more serving tip that beer cookbook authors have thankfully chosen to ignore:


Never offer any…dessert type of dish. Candies are “out” also! Cakes are not suitable either…

A two-page centerfold advertisement in a 1939 edition of Liberty, a popular general interest magazine, featured Schlitz beer, “with that famous flavor,” surrounded by “Favorite Recipes of famous Amateur Chefs.” The recipes included a corned beef hash dish put together by legendary cartoonist Rube Goldberg, washed down, of course, with Schlitz since its “fresh, clean aftertaste makes good food seem better.” Six years after Repeal, the brewing industry was still taking the tentative step of simply pairing beer with food rather than using beer as a recipe ingredient in its advertising. The same magazine also carried a full-page ad from the recently founded United Brewers Industrial Foundation (U.B.I.F.) that trumpeted the fact that the brewing industry had contributed over $400 million in taxes in 1938 to various government agencies, claiming that this amount of money could theoretically cover the entire cost of President F.D.R.’s Civilian Conservation Corps. Beer not only had revenue-enhancing features, it had a sense of patriotism behind it too.

    

While the ad showed the importance of the kind of tax money the brewing industry now generated, it was also indicative of the industry’s dark fear that Prohibition could return. The additional claim in the ad of the brewers’ self-regulation of “law-violating beer outlets,” furthered the notion that the beer industry realized it still had a lot of work to do to convince all Americans that beer was assuredly an asset, and not a detriment, to American society.


More info on Beer & Food: An American History by Bob Skilnik

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer History, Beer In Food, Books & Beer, Cooking With Beer | 6 Comments »

Sam Adams Boston Baked Beans

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 8, 2007

July Is National Baked Bean Month

baked-beans.jpgSamuel Adams Boston Lagered Baked Beans


2 pounds dried navy beans
2 bottles (24 ounces) Samuel Adams Boston Lager
¼ oil or bacon drippings (be authentic here and use the drippings)
3 onions, coarsely diced
1/3 cup dried yellow mustard powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup pure maple syrup (or an additional cup brown sugar)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 small smoked pork shanks, split or 1 pound lean bacon
Salt to taste 

In a large pan, soak the beans overnight with cold water. Drain the beans and cover with fresh water and 1 bottle of Samuel Adams Boston Lager and salt. Bring the beans to a boil, then simmer slowly for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Place the beans in a large, ovenproof pan or Dutch oven along with the liquid they simmered in.

In a small fry-pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the onions. Cook until they are a deep, golden caramel color, and then add to the beans. Mix the remaining ingredients, except the pork, into the beans. The pork shanks should be pressed down into the beans.

Place the pan, uncovered, in a preheated 300º F. oven and bake for 3 hours. Add the additional bottle of Sam Adams Lager plus enough water to just cover the beans, seasoning as needed. Allow the beans to continue cooking, uncovered, without adding additional liquid until they are browned on top and have cooked to the desired consistency, approximately 3 hours.

When cooked, serve as is or shred the meat from the pork shank and stir into the beans.

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Beer, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad With Lager Beer Dressing For July 4

Posted by Bob Skilnik on July 4, 2007

crockwell1951bevofmoderation.jpg

12  Servings

2 bottles (12 oz each)  Lager beer
4 cloves garlic, smashed with side of knife
4 pounds mixed baby red, white and blue potatoes, quartered
1 Tablespoon plus 1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon honey mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels
1/3 cup scallions, sliced
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

In large pot with colander inset, combine beer and garlic cloves. Bring Lager beer to a boil over medium-high heat. Insert colander or steam basket; place potato quarters over simmering beer. Cover tightly with lid. Steam potatoes 20 to 24 minutes, until just tender when pierced with fork. Transfer potatoes to large bowl to cool. Pour the beer from pot into a glass measure, discard garlic and reserve beer. There should be about 1 cup.In small saucepan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add shallots and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes or until softened. Add reserved beer, vinegar and sugar; bring mixture to a boil. Boil 7 minutes or until reduced to about 2/3 cup. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor. Add honey mustard, salt and pepper. With blender or food processor on low, slowly pour in remaining 1/3 cup canola oil until dressing is emulsified.Pour dressing over potatoes; add egg pieces, corn kernels, scallions and bacon. Toss well to coat. Serve potato salad warm or refrigerate up to 2 days before serving. Top with parsley when ready to serve. (If dressing is made ahead, bring to room temperature before serving.)

Courtesy of The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA)     Alexandra, Virginia  http://nbwa.org/Nbwa/Resources/Cooking_and_Dining_with_Beer/

The N.B.W.A.was founded in 1938 as a trade association for the nation’s beer distributors. It also, however, has assumed an educational role with the public, bringing attention to the problems of alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and underage purchasing and consumption of beer. The site also provides plenty of food recipes using beer. Make sure to stop by their site for recipes, beer terms, and further information on promoting responsibility while enjoying a beer or two.











Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Food That Demands To Be Paired With Beer | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Apple Mustard Brats

Posted by Bob Skilnik on June 5, 2007

precooked-veal-bratwurst.jpgWhen I lived in West Germany, Wurst Salat was a typical dish found on the menu of local eateries. Unless you’re on a very low-carb diet, however, being presented with a plate of sliced lunch meats bathed in vinegar and onions can be somewhat overwhelming. This recipe might fill the bill for those who can do without the “all-meat” concept.

Apple-Mustard Grilled Bratwurst Salad with Beer Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1/2 cup of a German hot mustard (actually, any hot brown mustard will do)
1/2 cup apple butter (found next to jelly and jams at the supermarket)
1 pound  fine-ground veal bratwurst
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup malt vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as desired
6 tightly-packed cups of salad greens (the more delicate, the better)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1 15 to 16 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 to 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper


Preparation

Preheat outdoor grill (gas or charcoal).Mix together the mustard and apple butter; reserve 1/3 cup of the mixture in a large salad bowl. Place bratwurst on preheated grill and cook for 10 minutes, turning frequently. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush all sides generously with unreserved mustard mixture, continuing to grill until all sides are coated and browned. Remove bratwurst to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, to make dressing add the oil, malt vinegar, salt and pepper to the bowl containing the reserved mustard mixture, whisking until blended. Place the salad greens into the salad bowl with the dressing. Add the green onions, beans, tomatoes and red bell pepper, tossing gently to blend well.Cut bratwurst into 1/2-inch slices. Divide the salad mixture among 4 large serving plates and top with the grilled bratwurst, dividing equally. Makes 4 servings. 

Posted in Beer And Food Pairing, Beer In Food, Cooking With Cider | Leave a Comment »