Beer for a Year, month two…

Greetings beer lovers! This months special brew is one of my most favorites, Summit Winter Ale. They describe this beer as being nutty (I’m a little like that) with a roasted malt flavor and hints of coffee, caramel, cocoa and a dash of hop spice–wow, no wonder I am bonkers for it…I love all those things! They say to pair this beer with Stews, (a hint of what we are making with this!) soft or smoked cheeses, ham and heavy roasted meat, and holiday feasts. (oh yeah, there was some of that in December!)

I found a groovy little handout that tells more about Summit Winter Ale, you can download it here.

So, lets get started! We are calling this our Beer-Braised Beef Stew; not real clever, but straight to the point is sometimes better. I can’t take all the credit for this one either, my darling husband did all of the cooking. I just finished it up with some gorgeous buttery chive-mashed potatoes & sautéed asparagus.

You’ll start by trimming up a piece of beef chuck roast, (just like the kind you’d make pot roast or stroganoff out of) we used a piece that was just about 2.5lbs.

We also added sliced carrots, fresh chopped parsley, 3-4 cloves of garlic-crushed, chopped sweet onions & a big handful of baby portabella mushrooms, quartered. You’ll want to get a dutch oven going on high at this point, as you’ll want it screaming hot when you add the meat to it. Cube your meat into roughly 1″ pieces.

Like this….

Mmmmm……I love meat…….sorry, okay, next step, drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of your dutch oven (or really any heavy duty pot will work) get ready for some smokin’ and throw in that meat! We seasoned it once it was in the pan, but you can do it after you get it all cubed up. A good sprinkling of salt & ten or so cracks of pepper will be all you need.

Get a good caramelization on the meat and then start adding the onions. Let that rock for a bit, then add the carrots….then a bit later, the mushrooms. After just another bit, add the parsley & garlic. Once they’ve partied a bit together, and everything is lookin’ all cozy, grab that gorgeous Summit Winter Ale and deglaze that pan baby!

Oh, that smell………yeah, that’s the stuff! Sorry, I get excited about this. We used just about two full bottles of the Summit Winter Ale, but you could do a bit more or a bit less, depending on your taste. At this point, you’ll want to add a couple cups of beef stock, or just as much as you want it be saucy. (make sense? more stock, saucier, less, not so much) Plop on that lid and let er’ buck (as the hubby would say) for a good hour at a slow simmer. Check the meat after that and if its tender enough for you, you are good. If not, carry on a bit longer. Once the meat is tender enough for you, you’ll want to thicken the sauce. The best way to do that, is to make a roux. In a small sauté pan, melt two (+/-) tablespoons of butter. Once the butter is melted, add two (+/-) tablespoons of flour and stir. The key to roux, is to cook the flour in the butter…the longer you do this, the darker & more caramelly (yea, not a word…) the roux will become. For this dish, you don’t need it to be too dark, just cooked-a light brown color. Once you’ve gotten there, add the roux starting with a teaspoon or two and wisk into sauce mixture. Add more to thicken more, but stop when you have the consistency you are after. (thick for a “stew” like dish, less-thick for a “gravy”)

Spoon over fluffy, gorgeous mashed potatoes and enjoy! You could also spoon over buttered egg noodles or maybe even some creamy polenta…YUM!!!

Until next month, (hint, the color of February, matches the color of our next beer…)



Beer for a Year!

Wait, what? Yes, that’s what I said, Beer for a year! I was at an event at the end of November, where I won Beer for a year, from Summit Brewing. Even though, as most of you that know me, I don’t really drink beer, I was still so excited! I love our local, hometown brewery- Summit Brewing and was thrilled to be able to share this wonderful gift with my friend’s & family that do drink beer! I got my first case, Summit Extra Pale Ale and decided I wanted to blog about this each month. I am not only going to tell you about the beer I choose each month, as I get to pick from some great options, but I am going to challenge myself to cook with the beer.

So let’s talk about the first month’s brew, Summit Extra Pale Ale. On their website, they call this, “the brew that launched a brewery.” Also stating it is a pioneer in craft beer, Summit EPA has been gracing the pint glasses of serious brew lovers since 1986. Bronze in color, with a gold medal-winning flavor. With caramel, biscuity malts superbly balanced with an earthy hop bite and juicy citrus. They suggest pairing this beer with sharp cheddar, grilled meat, fried seafood, soft, ripened cheese.

I decided, to start small. Cooking with beer can be easy and can be challenging. There’s always Beer Cheese soup, or some version of Beer bread. I can braise Chicken or Sausages in beer. But I wanted to challenge myself and respect the beer along the way. What could I make with Summit Extra Pale Ale, that would accomplish both? How about a little Mushroom Ale Risotto! Yes!

I adapted this recipe from this Jeff Smith recipe. And major adaptations it was….really the only thing I followed was the measurements for the rice, chicken broth and beer…and I used a lot more beer than he did! As you get to know me and my cooking style, you’ll see I am more of a “little of this, little of that” kind of cook, but I know some of you want something you can follow, so here is a list of the ingredients:

1 cup of arborio rice

Baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced (as much as you want, and you can really use any type of mushroom for this)

2.5 cups of chicken stock, warmed slightly

1.5 cups of room temperature Summit Extra Pale Ale (see notes below about using one of the other delicious Summit Beer offerings)

1 T. of butter

2 T. olive oil

2 medium shallots, finely chopped (or one small sweet onion)

3 garlic cloves, minced

A good heaping handful of Sartori Balsamic BellaVitano cheese

Salt & pepper as needed

The first thing you’ll do after assembling the ingredients is start by melting the butter & olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the shallots (or onion) and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft being careful not to burn the garlic. Add in the rice and cook for approximately 2 minutes or until the rice is translucent. Combine the stock with the beer and season a bit with salt & pepper. Begin by adding one cup of the beer broth to the rice, stirring constantly until nearly absorbed. Continue this process, adding the broth mixture, one cup at a time, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente and suspended in a thick, creamy liquid, most likely around twenty minutes after beginning. (Switch arms, or stirring partners during this process so you don’t wake up the next day wondering what the heck you did the day before!) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in as much rice as you’d like. I love using the Sartori Balsamic BellaVitano cheese because it imparts a nice sweet flavor profile. I’ve had lots of Risotto in my day, all of which was either made with wine or stock, but never beer. I love how unique this dish is; the beer lingers on the tongue once you get past the rice & mushroom flavors! If I were to do anything different, I would try another type of Summit Beer that maybe wasn’t as bitter as the Extra Pale Ale (not saying I don’t like that!). Or, it might be nice to add cider or something sweet instead of the stock….so many options!

Pair this gorgeous Mushroom Ale Risotto with a frosty Summit Extra Pale Ale and a nice crispy salad and enjoy!

See you next month when I try my hand at another delicious Beer dish…going darker on you then…stay tuned!