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Hoppy cooking: Beer has a bigger place in the kitchen than just cook’s beverage

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For most people, cooking with beer begins and ends with pouring a dark beer into a chili, or maybe using a can of lager in a loaf of quick bread or the batter for a fish fry. But using suds in your victuals actually makes a lot of sense – the hops and malt will lend a slight sweetness to your dish, and the yeast can help baked goods stay lofty.

Julie Petrakis, chef and owner of the Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder Brewery, has good practical advice for anyone getting started cooking with beer. Just like wine, she says, "Don't cook with anything you wouldn't drink. And don't boil or over-reduce the beer, or it will turn pretty bitter."

Richard DeMers, executive chef of the Maitland and MetroWest Teak Neighborhood Grills, says, "Beer brings earthy and rich elements to a broad spectrum of recipes, ranging from soups to desserts.

"In our kitchen, we utilize both main categories of beer: ales and lagers. The brewing process of ales brings earthy and fruitful flavors, while the modern brewing style of lagers brings a lighter and drier aspect."

Teak's best-known beergredient is probably the Angry Orchard onion jam they slather on their Drunken Monk burger, a savory-sweet reduction of Spanish onions, brown sugar and Angry Orchard Hard Cider. A couple of their burgers feature an imperial stout glaze, which DeMers says brings out a "mildly sweet and roasted malt flavor, reminiscent of a cold-brewed coffee." And their beer-battered onion rings, which they dredge in Yuengling Lager, flour, milk and egg before frying, have a light, crispy crust "comparable to tempura."

Here, two more local chefs offer recipes to start your hoppy kitchen journey. Just remember, you might want to double the beer quantity listed in the recipe: one part for the food, one part for your thirst.

Singha Brined Thai Sticky Wings

Jason Bergeron, Executive Chef Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen | chromalakenona.com

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds chicken wings

2 bottles Singha beer

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon white sugar

1/2 teaspoon of the following: chili flakes, fresh crushed garlic, minced ginger

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup green onion

For the sauce:

1/2 cup mae ploy sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons minced green onion

1. Combine first group of ingredients well (2 pounds chicken wings through 1/2 cup green onion) and let sit in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours.

2. Remove wings from liquid and either roast in a 400-degree oven or grill over charcoal until an internal temp of 165 degrees is reached AND the skin is crispy. While wings are cooking, make the sauce: Mix together second group of ingredients (1/2 cup mae ploy through 2 tablespoons minced green onion).

3. Remove wings and toss with the sauce. Serve topped with sliced scallions, crispy spring roll wrapper strips, crushed peanuts and beer.

Guinness Stout-laced Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup

Tim Keating, Director of Culinary Operations

Urbain 40 | urbain40.com

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 pound of apple-smoked bacon, cut into thin slivers

1 medium sweet onion, cut into small dice

3 celery stalks, cut into small dice

1 bunch leeks, trimmed of green tops, white part cut into slivers

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 cups chicken stock

4 cups cream

1 pound Black Diamond white cheddar cheese, finely grated

1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

2 cups Guinness Stout at room temperature

Garnish: 8 tablespoons crème fraiche and minced fresh chives

1. Cook bacon in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about five minutes.

2. Add onion, celery, leeks and 2 tablespoons of the butter; sauté until the vegetables soften, about five minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium. Add flour and stir constantly for about three minutes.

4. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil for one minute. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Add cream and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Do not boil after adding cream.

6. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend in cheese, Tabasco, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter until cheese is melted and soup is smooth. Blend in Guinness. If soup becomes too thick, add warmed chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved.

7. Garnish each serving with a tablespoon of crème fraiche and some minced chives.

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