Jacquelyn Dodd, the recipe developer and beer enthusiast behind award-winning website The Beeroness, has a new cookbook all about cooking with—not just drinking—craft beers. The 80 recipes in “Lush” match seasonal brews with seasonal produce. In this excerpt, Dodd provides a primer on cooking with beer, plus three comforting cold-weather dishes to get you started.
Why would you cook with beer? Why not just drink it like a normal person? Great question—I’m glad you asked!
Cooking with alcohol isn’t new. From the wine in coq au vin to the sweet liqueur in cherries jubilee, cooking with booze is a time-honored tradition. But why beer instead of wine, rum, or liqueur? Let’s dive in.
Unlike most varieties of alcoholic beverages that contain only one or two ingredients, beer offers you at least four. Each ingredient lends something different to your dish, qualities you’d be hard-pressed to find with any other liquid.
The hops act as a mild preservative as well as a unique and powerful flavor, the combination of the yeast and carbonation serves as a mild leavening agent that lends an extra puff to your baked goods, and the malted barley is a beautiful flavor that complements everything from pizza dough to chocolate cake. These ingredients come together to make a super liquid that’s perfect for baking and cooking.
The flavor of beer shouldn’t be overlooked as a main factor in pouring a pint in your pot. It can deglaze your pan as well as add a nice malty note to your chili.
But if you find that the beer flavor is too present, use a beer that is less hoppy next time. The hop flavors can be overwhelming in a highly hopped beer like an IPA, so switch to a pilsner or a kolsch for something more mild. Or, in a savory dish, replace half of the beer with something else, like broth or water.
If, on the other hand, the beer flavor wasn’t as present as you’d like, try the opposite. Replace an English brown ale with an American brown ale, as they tend to be far hoppier. Or use a double IPA (DIPA) instead of a pale ale. You get the idea.
Excerpted with permission from “Lush: A Season-by-Season Celebration of Craft Beer and Produce” by Jacquelyn Dodd, Agate Surrey, October 2019.