Good News for Half Beer Lovers

Surely I’m not the only mama who can hardly finish one beer anymore. While I would make an economical date (if Hubby and I ever got such a thing), I hate wasting half a beer. After this last Babe popped out, it still being hotter than hell here, I jubilantly went and bought myself a six-pack. Nothing satisfies at the end of a hot, mama day like a cold beer, right?

Half a beer later, I put the bottle back in the fridge and wondered if dark beer would make a good beer batter. Then I remembered a recipe I’d been meaning to try, Beef Carbonade, I believe it’s called. It sounded basically like stew, but with dark beer thrown in, instead of the more typical red wine. So, throwing any actual recipe to the wind, I set out to make a a beef stew with the second half of my dark beer.

Only, I don’t generally buy beef. What I have is lots of frozen and home canned moose and black bear meat, brought lovingly from Alaska. And for reasons I can’t remember, rather than you’re typical potatoes in the stew concept, I made essentially a gravy, and poured it over noodles.

Voila, my new favorite food!

I’ve made variations on this theme several times now, and I can say without a doubt, cooking meat (or mushrooms) with a dark malty beer is divine! The deep, bittersweet, rich flavor marries bee-utifully. And vegetarians, wait! Don’t click away yet! Because that same flavor, combined with mushrooms makes about the meatiest non-meat gravy I’ve ever had. I made a big batch for Christmas dinner, with two vegetarians in attendance, and I thought it far superior to the turkey gravy.

So here’s my most recent incarnation. I threw in a jar of home-canned moose meat, but most of y’all won’t have such items in your cupboard. You could easily add some fried up burger if you wanted to meat it up:

Shitake Mushroom Carbonade!

If you’ve never had fresh shitakes, holy smokes are them some good eatin! Completely different than the dried variety, which I’m not so fond of. Of course, any mushroom would work.

To coax the meatiest flavor out of the mushrooms, you need to brown them, which means– don’t crowd the pan. Plenty of oil and one single layer of shrooms, on a pretty high heat makes….

Yummy goldeny brown nuggets of mushroom joy! (Note how much they shrunk)

Move the shrooms to a separate dish and caramelize some onions in the same pan. Add the shrooms back in, heat the pan back up to sizzling, then pour your half beer on top. Should roil and boil like a witches brew. Let it boil down till thick and syrupy (a few minutes). Now make a rich brown roux, gravify with the stock/broth/bullion of choice, and stir into your mushrooms.

Simmer a few minutes more to marry the flavors and season to taste. Pour over noodles and serve with sauteed cabbage to enjoy some of the most satisfying comfort food imaginable!