Cooking with Food
August 7, 2013
The greatest chefs in the world know that wine, liquor and beer add the flavors and zest that make good recipes great! While I am far from a chef and can barely boil water, I have had the chance to try some outstanding meals and dishes made in all different ways!
One of the favorites is Beer Can Chicken! I do not know who invented the idea—but brilliance is sometimes anonymous! The basic idea of beer can chicken is to slowly roast a whole chicken on your grill in a vertical manner. You take the giblets out of your chicken and you put an open beer can inside the rear of the chicken. You then use the two legs as a tripod, with the can being the third leg. You slowly roast for 1-1.5 hours over your grill. You can put various rubs and flavorings as you wish. But the beer gives the chicken a juicy flavor and is the most tender chicken you will ever have!
Here in the northland we love our bratwurst. Brats boiled in beer are a classic. I have heard two different schools of thought on the method. First method is to boil the brats in your favorite beer with onions for an hour or two to allow the flavor of the beer to soak into your brats. Then you place them on the grill and brown them and they are delicious! But the other method is to grill the brats on the piping hot barbecue grill to seal in the juiciness of the flavor and then place the brats in your favorite beer and serve from the hot cauldron. This way you can keep your brats all day in the froth and enjoy at your leisure. I have tried both ways and they are delicious! The caveat I have is that you must use good beer. I prefer a darker amber beer like Schell’s Firebrick to give more flavor and nuance to the brats.
Using wine in cooking is as old as the wine industry itself. Chefs have been using wine in their recipes forever. Johnny Mangouras of Johnny Mango’s Catering taught me a beautiful recipe for barbecue ribs. He uses a rich California Zinfandel like Klinkerbrick or Seghisio and fresh blackberries to create a beautiful sauce that is spicy and rich but perfectly balanced! Go to Johnny’s website to see the entire recipe. Chefmango.com
Desserts are another dish that lends itself to the use of countless exquisite libations. Every holiday season I have ladies coming in to buy bourbon! It is surprising because typically women don’t like bourbon—but when they tell me they are making bourbon balls it makes sense! Bourbon balls are little balls of chocolate with real American bourbon oozing from the inside. They are a special treat and the bourbon counteracts the sweetness of the sugar and chocolate to give your taste buds a tantalizing treat! I love Makers Mark in the little treats because of its lighter finish and color.
With the 50th annual Greek Festival coming up on August 23-25 I have to talk about the delicious dessert Kourambiethes. The secret ingredient the ladies use in their homemade recipes is Metaxa. Metaxa is a Greek Cognac like liqueur that is sweet and smooth! It is the perfect touch for a delicious dessert that is a delicious cookie smothered in powdered sugar and is a special treat you can get only once a year during the Greek Fest! Kourambiethes are delicious and will blow your diet away—but are well worth it!!
This is a small sampling of dishes using great drinks in their recipes! I didn’t even mention Rum Cake, the Minnesota Friday night staple Beer Batter Fish and countless others! As always experiment and enjoy in moderation!