BEER, BARBECUE AND Baltimore is a natural combination this Independence Day. Beer can be used to tenderize ribs, mixed with ground beef or used as an ingredient in a terrific sauce or marinade.
Hugh Sisson, in charge of marketing and brewing at his family-owned restaurant and bar, says beer can add a depth of flavor you can't get any other way. Sisson's in Federal Hill has a 450-square-foot brewery in the basement. The restaurant makes about 16 different kinds of beers with two or three available at any one time.
Sisson says the restaurant began experimenting with beer-based recipes about two months ago. The restaurant plans to bring out a menu featuring beer-based recipes this fall.
"Cooking with beer is a cuisine that has not been explored. Cooking with wine has been done to death," he says.
Different beers will give foods different tastes, Sisson says. Try a standard American beer such as Budweiser up against Bass or Young's Ale, for example. The Budweiser, which Sisson describes as relatively bland, will make a "fairly minor" contribution to a recipe. But a deeper, richer ale will add a slightly bitter, nutty flavor.
Here are two beer-based recipes from Sisson's chef Bill Aydlett.
2 ripe mangoes
1 cup beer, any kind (cannot be flat)
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups flour
4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup honey
Peel mangoes and cut each one into four even pieces. For the batter: mix beer, milk, eggs, salt and sugar with a wire whisk. Slowly add flour until the mixture is the consistency of pancake batter.
On the stove, heat vegetable oil in a deep pot to 350-degrees. Use a candy or deep-fryer thermometer to judge temperature. Do not boil oil.
Dip each mango slice into the batter and then immediately into the hot oil. Fry four pieces at a time until golden brown. Keep cooked slices warm in a 200-degree oven until finished. Serve with sauce made by mixing yogurt and honey together. Serves eight.
Trout Lime Lager
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced thin
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled,seeded and sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 trout, about 8-ounces each, cleaned,all bones and fins removed
3/4 cup beer light-bodied lager-style beer such as St. Pauli Girl or Heineken
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil with the garlic in an oven-proof saute pan. Shake the pan gently while the oil is heating to lightly brown the garlic, do not burn. Add the onions and brown lightly, then add tomatoes and parsley, stir and remove pan from heat. Set the mixture aside.
Salt and pepper fish lightly both inside and out. Using the same pan, stuff the trout with the tomato mixture. Add beer, wine and lime juice to the pan and bake in a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until slightly flaky but firm. Place the trout on serving platters, spooning the sauce from the pan over the fish. Best served with rice.
Here are some more beer-inspired recipes.
Beer Sausage Kebobs
12 ounces beer
1 to 1 1/4 pounds sausage, about 1 inch or more in diameter and 8 inches long or longer (we used Giant-brand country-style sausage)
Chopped vegetables, such as peppers, onions
Long metal skewers
Malty-purpose barbecue sauce, recipe follows
Start the grill. Place the beer in a skillet large enough to hold the sausage. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Prick the sausage and gently poach it in the beer four minutes per side. Drain.
If using presoaked wood chips or other flavorings, sprinkle them over the hot coals or lava rocks. Brush the grill lightly with oil.
Carefully skewer the sausage, coiling it back and forth and inserting vegetables in between coils. Brush the sausage lightly with oil before grilling so that it won't stick.
Grill sausage over medium-hot heat eight to 10 minutes per side or until done, basting with malty-purpose barbecue sauce. To serve: carefully pull out skewer and slice sausage into chunks. Serve with the grilled vegetables. Serves four, depending on size of sausage.
-- Adapted from "Cooking with Fire and Smoke" by Phillip Stephen Schulz -- Simon and Schuster; 1986.
Malty Purpose Barbecue Sauce
1 1/2 cups beer
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
L Combine all ingredients and whirl in a blender until smooth.
Pour into a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Brush onto sausage, chicken, steaks or hamburgers for about ten minutes before they are done for a a really zippy flavor.
-- "Cooking with Beer" by Judith Gould and Ruth Koretsky; Summerhill Press -- 1989
1 cup butter
1 3-pound chicken cut-up
1 14-ounce bottle barbecue sauce
1 cup beer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt one-half cup butter in 9x13-inch pan. Add chicken; turn to coat. Bake 30 minutes.