For the Love of Beer!

Three years ago I moved to Colorado from Cincinnati.  Admittedly Cincinnati and beer go way back.  The German population that built Cincinnati brought their love of beer from the homeland.  I grew up in the shadow of Christian Moerlein and have fond memories of many family outings to the local Beer Gardens.

But I have never really liked the taste of beer.  All through my undergraduate days at notorious party school Ohio University I would nurse a beer over the course of several hours.  It just was not my thing.  I have hosted many a keg party and probably have not had 5 cups of beer in total.

I love wine, champagne, lemon martinis, margaritas, and many other cocktails and libations.  I never really missed beer.  Then I moved to Denver.  Home of a burgeoning craft beer community.  I have neighbors who make their own specialty favored beers and this is not unusual here.

There are microbreweries everywhere and you can find many local restaurants that feature local beer in the food and as pairings with their cuisine.  The cook in me cannot resist any longer.  I have declared my public intention to go on a journey with beer to find the ones I enjoy drinking and to understand beer’s potential for flavoring and inspirig the food that I make.

Step 1 Get with a Beer Drinking Buddy and ask her to order  for you her favorite beer:

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Step 2 Repeat Step 1 at every beer drinking opportunity.  Eventually you will find the beers you enjoy and get to understand the flavors.  It turns out that I like Corona (the lime is not necessary for me personally but I like that this beer has a customary garnish) and beers that are a little more amber in color with sweet notes like honey, vanilla, pumpkin and orange.

I don’t think beer will ever be my first love but when it is possible to buy small glasses of beer (I like 3-4 ounces so the flights are always nice) I will likely be more of a regular beer drinker.  It makes me feel very full and then I don’t want to eat food and dear readers, I never want to miss the food.

Now cooking with beer?  I am loving that.  I have added a dark beer to my beef stew for a nice added starchy flavor, I have added Corona to bean soup and chili and tonight, I added a bottle of Shock Top Honeycrisp Wheat to the baby back ribs I have braising in my crock pot.

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The original recipe called for a bottle of coke which I did not have and I did not think Diet Coke would do since what was needed was the sugar.  Here is the basic approach:

Slice an onion and layer in the bottom of a crock pot sprayed with cooking spray.  Salt and pepper a full rack of ribs on both sides and place meaty side down on the onions.   You will probably have to cut the rack of ribs in half.  Mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar with 1-2 T of minced garlic, 1-2 T of chopped ginger, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, 4 cups of hot water and 1 bottle of beer.  Pour over ribs and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6-8 hours.  Remove ribs with slatted spoon and serve over starch of your choice with extra barbecue on the side.

I want to mix things up tonight on the starch and do something a little different so I am serving my ribs over cauliflower gratin.  The Ina Garten recipe I use is better than macaroni and cheese!  I pretty much think Mme. Garten rocks the food and her books are well loved in the Casa Kitchen.

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You can find the recipe for the Ina’s gratin here:

http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=520&S=0

Our full Sunday dinner menu includes ribs over caulioflower gratin, oven roasted rosemary potatoes and store bought deli coleslaw.  I do not have any desert planned but I am toying with the idea of an apple crisp to go along with our apple wheat beer infused ribs.  But if I make the apple crisp I will need to get vanilla ice cream for my hubs and make whipped cream for the kids.  If you give a mouse a cookie…

I would please like to note for my friend Iris that this recipe is vegetarian friendly (but not vegan, sorry to that one friend I probably have who is vegan but I have no idea who that would be…..).   If you are vegan and you are my friend let me know.

Happy eating!

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