Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cooking with Beer

Belgian Beers
Mark Bittman in this weekend's New York Times Magazine:
Cooking with beer makes sense: not only is it more flavorful than water, but it’s also more flavorful than any store-bought chicken stock and less ethically objectionable as well. And unlike wine or liquor, you can substitute beer cup-for-cup for stock or water when you’re braising or making soup. Yet like wine, beer is acidic, which comes in handy when you’re baking quick bread, cake or fried foods, because you need a little acidity to activate baking soda. 
In fact, beer’s flavors are arguably more varied and complex than any ready-made liquid besides wine. And like bread, to which it’s closely related, beer loves to team with meat, cheese and strong flavors like onions, garlic and spices.
None of this is really earth shattering... people have been making bread and cheddar soup with beer forever, but you don't see quite as many braises with beer it seems. One of my favorite stews is carbonnade à la flamande, which is simply beef and onions braised in Belgian ale, but the sum is many times greater than its parts. I'll probaly try his cheddar and cauliflower soup, but you might be interested in his Dopplebock bread or carnitas. It certainly makes me anxious for Garrett Oliver's Oxford Companion to Beer.

EDIT: Hmmm... Blogger's new posting interface seems to have broken timezones, as this was supposed to post at 4:30... oh well, back to the old interface I guess.