The Session #47: Cooking with Beer

The SessionIt’s the first Friday of the New Year, which means it’s also the first Session for 2011! We’re up to number 47 which is probably enough to forgo the usual introductory note—instead, if you’re curious about what The Session is, check out Jay’s excellent writeup.

This month’s Session is hosted by Beer 47 and the topic is Cooking with Beer.

We all know beer is great for drinking but what about using it as an ingredient in cooking? Wine is used as an ingredient for numerous dishes and recipes yet beer seems to be under utilized in cooking. However, with the rise in popularity of craft beer and advocacy from the likes of The Homebrew Chef, I think this trend is slowly changing. For the month of January, Beer 47 will be hosting The Session #47 and encouraging beer bloggers from all over the internet to discuss Cooking with Beer.

Since the topic of Cooking with Beer is broad, I invite you to share any experience that you have had with beer as an ingredient in food or for cooking. I only ask that you be sure to include other dishes besides (or in addition to) dessert, the reason being that we have already discussed Beer Desserts for The Session #30. You don’t need to exclude dessert, just please do not limit your discussion to dessert only.

A confession (one which I’ve made before, I’m quite sure): I don’t really cook with beer—at least, not as an ingredient (but I do cook with beer if you get my meaning). If I do, I tend to use it when braising, or very occasionally in a sauce. But cooking with specific beer-related recipes in mind? That’s not something I’ve explored very much.

But what about some non-conventional cooking? I’m thinking here of “mulled beer“—something I wrote about a year ago over on my Hop Press blog. This particular concoction is a mix of hot beer, sugar, spices, and egg: a drink you will cook on the stove and yes, you’ll need some cooking skills as you will need to temper the egg with the hot liquid (so you don’t scramble it instead).

Mulled beer

The end result is a creamy, malty, hot drink that might very well accompany those other beer-themed dishes you’ll be cooking up after reading the rest of this month’s Session posts. And if you really like to cook, there’s no reason you can’t push the envelope here a bit as well; as I noted in my original article:

And I encourage all of you to experiment with your beer as well; after all, there’s no reason we have to be constrained to simply opening a bottle and drinking the beer—get creative! Try mulling your beer in various ways: sometimes with fruit, sometimes with eggs. Perhaps simmer an Old Ale with some dried cranberries and a touch of allspice. Or perhaps combine eggs and rum with a Milk Stout and a dash of vanilla.

With the New Year comes the natural tendency towards resolutions; with this month’s Session in mind, I think for 2011 I will start to do some in-depth exploration of cooking with beer. Beginning with some mulled beer this weekend…

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