Ingredient Spotlight: Cooking with Beer

Many of you left comments in our recipe for New England Fish Chowder wondering how we can be using beer in our favorite dishes. Like many of you, beer tends to be more of a beverage for us, but we don't see any reason why it can't be an ingredient too!

Our curiosity sparked, we did a quick search to see what we could find.

It turns out that beer can be used in many of the same ways that we commonly use wine: as a base for braises, to deglaze pans, and as a way of adding extra depth to soups and sauces.

Whenever a recipe calls for it, you can also try substituting beer for all or some of the water, broth, or wine. And like wine, cooking will concentrate the flavors of the beer, so you want to pick one with flavors that complement your dish. For our fish chowder, we chose a mild lager because it added a light, malty taste without overpowering the fish or making the creamy soup taste bitter.

Our sleuthing turned up a few interesting ideas that we can't wait to try:
• To cook greens like Swiss chard, spinach, and collard greens
• As a brine for turkey, pork, or any other large cut of meat
• For steaming shellfish like mussels and scallops
To cook beans
• As a glaze for roasted meats
• In stuffing, dressing, and savory bread pudding

What other ways have you been using beer in your cooking?

Recipes - try beer in these...
Easy Braised Collard Greens
Basil Parmesan Pot Beans
Getting Ready for Thanksgiving: Brining
Braising Contest 2007: Carolina and Ron's Chinese Five Spice and Beer Beef Stew
Braising Contest 2007: Rachel's Beer Braised Beef with Kohlrabi and Leeks

Related Links
Beercook
National Beer Wholesalers Association: Cooking and Dining with Beer
NPR Kitchen Window: Cheers to Cooking with Beer

This is by Emma, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Emma!

(Image by Emma Christensen for The Kitchn.)

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