St. Patrick’s Day cheer is all about cooking with beer |

St. Patrick’s Day cheer is all about cooking with beer

Looks strange, tastes good. Beer Butt Chicken is a great St. Patrick's Day recipe.

The month of March means many things to the Irish: green beer, car bombs (the drink), corned beef and cabbage, more beer and the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. This is the day where drinking excessively is expected, and cooking with beer should be a tradition.

Using beer as part of your meal can be as simple as stewing your corned beef in Guinness, or simply making beer-brats. In fact, there are a number of unique bread, soup and dessert recipes where beer is the main ingredient. What better way than the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is there to try cooking with beer?!

Beer has been quenching thirsts and aiding in recipes for over 800 years. Used today as an excellent tenderizer for meats, it used to be the trick to hiding any bad smell or taste of rancid meat for the Germanic tribes.

Then, Roman fishermen pickled their catch in beer in order to hide the stench from the Tiber River. Finally, the English started making batters from beer which added necessary flavor to fried vegetables and fish. Fish and chips have been a staple in England for centuries.

Although I have yet to experiment with this well-known idea, I hear it’s “the juiciest, most mouthwatering bird you’ll ever try.” The name is a literal description of how it’s done. This isn’t something you’ll find at your local restaurant, but the perfect solution to spice up a sunny, spring BBQ. Succulent beer-butt chicken, sweet!

Speaking of sweet, how about dessert? I love dessert. I have an instant dessert panic after a meal which needs to be treated immediately or the possibility of death could occur.

One of my favorite desserts is made with Guinness, the King of Irish beers. With this cake you can have your beer and eat it too! Believe it or not, this Irish stout cake was first served to me in Fiamma ” an Italian Restaurant in Tahoe City. Ironic, how an Irish beer was the component behind my favorite chocolate cake. Since then, the cake is now made with an Italian Beer called Moretti La Rossa and is truly an “Italian Stout Cake.” You can expect to find this dense, incredibly moist Dutch Chocolate Cake with ganache frosting on St. Patrick’s Day along with other fantastic Italian dishes as well. Fiamma also runs an unbelievable happy hour from 5:30-6:30 p.m. weekly, so once again get there early while the getting’s good!

If you’re ready to start your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration at home, here are a few ideas for cooking with beer. If the traditional corned beef and cabbage is what you’re looking for, there are numerous Web sites with recipes that are sure to please. My two favorite are and Slainte!

For starters, I’d recommend Cracked Wheat Beer Bread, it’s simple and fast:

Cracked Wheat Beer Bread:

1 (1-pound) box quick-mix cracked wheat-style bread mix

1 (12-ounce) bottle beer

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or add some rosemary)

Nonstick baking spray

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Follow ingredients on bread mix package substituting beer for the water. Stir chopped thyme into the melted butter, then stir into the bread batter. Pour batter into a loaf pan coated with baking spray. Bake until browned on top and tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Thanks to the Food here is the recipe you’ve all been waiting for……

Beer-Butt Chicken

(I’ve also included a diagram to help you!):

1 (4-pound) whole chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons of your favorite dry spice rub

1 can beer

Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Rub chicken lightly with oil then rub inside and out with salt, pepper and dry rub. Set aside.

Open beer can and take several gulps (you only want a half-full can). Place beer can on a solid surface. Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, plunk the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can like a tripod.

Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/4 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife. Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Finally the best part of the beer-intensified meal…

Guinness Brownies

6 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter, cut into cubes

12 ounces dark bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup superfine or granulated sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout beer (don’t measure foam)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with nonstick foil.

Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate in a medium saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt until evenly combined.

Beat flour mixture into melted chocolate mixture. Whisk in Guinness stout beer. Fold in semisweet chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes on center rack in the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

Let brownies cool, uncovered, to room temperature.

Now that you are well-equipped with non-traditional, yet beer-loaded recipes you are ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Make your friends proud and hopefully the holiday will bring you good cheer and lots of beer!

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