Friday, December 7, 2012

Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Ya' know what I haven't written about lately?


Since the holidays are quickly approaching, I figured I'd pass along a few beery recipes that are perfect for those obligatory year-end parties and get togethers. That's right, I'm about to go all Martha Stewart on your collective asses. Bear in mind, I have not made any of these recipes, so I take no responsibility for their suckiness—however, I will take all the credit for their deliciousness. Secondly, I'm not going to pair any beers with these recipes because, truthfully, I simply can't be bothered to do that. So, let's start off with a really simple appetizer:

Drunken Mussels

5 pounds (2.2kg) mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
2 shallots, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 Twelve ounce bottle (355mL) of IPA
2 Tbsps green peppercorns in brine
2 Tbsps butter
chopped parsley for garnish
crusty bread

1) In a large pot (or the kitchen sink basin), soak the mussels 10 minutes in enough lightly salted cold water to cover.

2) In a separate large pot, mix the shallots, tomatoes, garlic, beer, peppercorns and butter. Place the mussels in the pot, and bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, reduce heat to low, and continue cooking 5 minutes, until mussels open. Discard unopened mussels. Place remaining mussels and broth in a large bowl and top with parsley. Serve with the crusty bread to sop up the broth.

Okay next up, a main course. I'm thinking something hearty and rich for a chilly December evening. I really dig stews and pot roasts, and the Belgians do a crazy good version of beef stew made with Old Bruin or Flemish Red Ale.

Carbonnade flamande

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds (1.3kg) of chuck roast or top round cut into 2 inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups thickly sliced onions
1/2 cup (60g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp brown sugar
3 Twelve ounce bottles (355mL) of Old Bruin or Flemish Red Ale
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp of red currant jelly
1 Tsp red wine vinegar
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Boiled carrots and potatoes, for serving

1) In a heavy Dutch oven (cast iron is perfect), melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add one-third of it to the pot. Cook over moderate heat until lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with 2 more batches of meat, using the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.

2) Add the onions to the pot, cover and cook over low heat, stirring, until browned. Stir in the flour until the onions are well-coated, then slowly add the beer. Return the meat to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Add the thyme and bay leaves, cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.

3) After two hours, uncover the pot and let the sauce reduce slightly and thicken over medium heat. Stir in red currant jelly and vinegar. When the sauce is to your liking, transfer the stew into serving bowls, sprinkle with parsley and serve with boiled carrots and potatoes.

This time of year nothing says Christmas more to me more than gingerbread, and this cake-y version spiked with a spiced-up holiday beer, and served with a big dollop of vanilla cream really hits the holiday mark.

Gingerbread with Vanilla Whipped Cream

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup (255g) molasses
1-1/4 cup (295mL) room temperature, spiced holiday beer (like harpoon Winter Warmer)
1 large egg
1/2 cup (92g) diced crystallized ginger (optional)

1) Grease and flour a 9-inch square pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175º C).

2) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.

3) Melt the butter in a heatproof measuring cup. Add the molasses to the cup, and pour into the dry ingredients in the bowl, mixing to moisten.

4) Add the beer gradually, stirring until everything is moistened. Beat the egg and stir into the batter until it's evenly combined. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan.

6) Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes before slicing; gingerbread is best served warm. Top with vanilla cream (below).

Vanilla Whipped Cream

2 1/2 cups (600mL) chilled whipping cream
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract in large bowl until firm peaks form.

There you go—three recipes for the holidays, all with a good shot of beer to liven things up! If you make any of them, drop me a line and let me know what you thought, or if you have a favorite recipe you'd like to pass on, leave it in the comment section or send me an email at

So, like the title says, go and eat, drink and be merry!


  1. Drinking beer(s) while I cook works better for me than beer as a recipe ingredient, regardless of the season.

  2. I like mussels cooked in Witbier. Much better than with wine. Never tried IPA. Probably because I never have any in the house.

    Just roasting a chicken. There are two bottles of Abt in the gravy.

    1. I like the Wit, idea.

      Since writing this, I've thought about how much beer I put into food—quite a bit, actually. Sunday dinner is always the biggest, or should I say the most involved, meal of the week that I prepare. It seems like beer ends up in those recipes nearly every time.