Chef Michele Ragussis/Sam Adams Tell Us to Cook with Beer

Cooking with alcohol tends to cause people to think of the same scenario. The situation pictured usually involves a bunch of friends gathered around a kitchen, drinking a few bottles of wine, cooking a simple meal, and occasionally pouring a dash of said wine into the food to help deglaze a pan or make a sauce. Well, this last Tuesday, here in NYC, Sam Adams and Michele Ragussis (rising-star chef from shows like Chopped, 24 Hour Restaurant Battle, and Next Food Network Star) wanted to challenge that. They aren’t saying that you shouldn’t do that because it’s dangerous, will ultimately lead to you burning down your place or your food, or that it’s not fair to get your friends wasted before you ask them how the meal was. None of that. They simply think you’re using the wrong alcohol.

Beer, people. You should be cooking with beer. And why not? Think about it, beer has a lot of flavors to bring to the party. Citrus notes, malted wheat, bitter hops, and tons of other ingredients that can range tremendously from beer to beer (think about crazy flavored beers like Leinenkugel Berry Weiss even). But here, I’ll let Michele say it in her own words.

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Michele and Sam Adams decided to prove this concept to members of the press on Tuesday with their Summer Ale Urban Clam Bake at Grey Lady in the Lower East Side. Michele and Sam Adams Brewer Jennifer Glanville were given the task of coming up with five items that all had to use Sam Adams Summer Ale as their main liquid during the cooking process. Here’s what they came up with:

  • Oysters Rockefeller with Summer Ale Beer Braised Swiss Chard
  • Summer Ale Beer Baked Clams
  • Beer and Bacon Potato Salad (everyone there was simply referring to this dish as “crack”)
  • Summer Ale Beer Butter Grilled Corn
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager Chocolate Cream Puffs

Having gotten to try them I have to say that the dishes were amazing and, what was more surprising to me, they actually tasted like they benefited from the inclusion of the beer. I mean, you could actually taste the beer in them and it went well with the flavors in the food. Who knew?! Jump paste the break for a peak at the dishes they came up with, a menu with their ingredients, and the event as a whole.

Now, even though I’ve seen beer used in cooking before (usually in the battering of something that ends up getting fried like most of you I’d assume) I was surprised at why I don’t use beer in more of my everyday cooking. Why isn’t this being done more often?

Anyone else think this is a great idea that’s just not been utilized enough? Grab a case of beer, some friends, and see if you can’t reinvent that wine and dinner night. And heck, your friends will still be drunk enough by the end to love the food regardless. Cheers!

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