You’ve had a lengthy relationship with beer. You sneaked cans out of your parents’ fridge in high school; guzzled from the tap in college; sipped fancy pale ales or microbrews with buddies on weekends. But we bet you’ve never cooked with beer—or at least never used it to make an omelet.
Want to experience the joy of cooking with beer? Then check out John Schlimm’s The Ultimate Beer Lover’s Cookbook (Cumberland House), a collection of more than 400 recipes that use everyone’s favorite drink as one of the main ingredients. A fifth-generation brew maven at Pennsylvania’s storied Straub Brewery, Schlimm has amassed beer recipes for more than 10 years. So next time you’re enjoying a cold one, save some suds for cooking your meal.
Breakfast with a Buzz
It’s safe to start your day with beer for breakfast—as long as it’s in something like the breakfast omelet. The alcohol cooks out, so you won’t be staggering to catch your morning train. “You’d have to eat a lot of the eggs to catch a buzz, and it wouldn’t be the kind of buzz you’d want,” Schlimm says. “So if it’s cooked, you’re safe.”
BREAKFAST OMELET RECIPE
2 to 3 eggs
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 tablespoons beer
Seasoned salt to taste
3/4 cup chopped spinach
Onions to taste, chopped
Red or yellow peppers to taste, chopped
1/3 cup sliced mushrooms
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, water, beer and seasoned salt together. Add the spinach, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Stir well. In a frying pan, melt enough butter to coat the bottom. Once the coating of butter is bubbling, add the egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently flop the egg mixture over until it's firm. Fold the flattened egg mixture in half and serve warm.
The Taste Test
While you may love the taste of beer, you won’t necessarily notice its presence in your braised pork with gravy. The beer just provides a certain zing that even its biggest booster can’t always put into words. “I know it sounds like a cop-out, but beer adds an extra flavor that’s really indescribable,” Schlimm says. “The way I put it: Beer does for recipes what it does for our lives.”
Playing with Pilsner
You can fancy up these recipes with high-end beers, but each one has been tested with “run-of-the-mill lagers” like Sam Adams and Budweiser. “As far as using other beers, that’s up to the individual cook ,” he says. “I encourage people to experiment.” Schlimm adds that one proud cook he knows modified the chocolate cannoli recipe with a vanilla stout. “It was out of this world.”
Schlimm says each cook should feel free to add a little more or less beer, depending on personal taste. When baking, the amounts should be a little more precise. “It’s such a fine chemistry that you don’t want to mess too much with those amounts.”
The Wing’s the Thing
Schlimm has compiled recipes from family, friends, fellow bar patrons and his Aunt Reggie, who drank a shot and a beer every day until she died at the age of 104. But if he had to pick one stand-out, it’s the hot wing recipe he learned from a college buddy. “That’s the one I’ve made again and again, and when I’ve made it on the road that’s the one people liked the most,“ he says. “Hot wings and beer just go together so well.” The wings aren’t “suicide hot,” according to Schlimm, “but they’re definitely on the border.”
BLAZING HOT WING SAUCE RECIPE
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing (powder)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2 cups Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce
6 tablespoons beer
(If preparing with chicken wings: 1 to 2 dozen chicken wings)
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients, mixing well. The sauce is ready to serve, either over chicken wings or as a dipping sauce for chicken tenders.
To prepare the sauce with the wings: In a pot, boil the one to two dozen chicken wings until they float. Place the chicken wings in a baking dish. Pour the Blazing Hot Wing Sauce over the wings. Bake the wings at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until desired crispiness.