The winter holiday season is a wonderful time of year in North Carolina! Fireplaces are roaring, families are gathering, and NC beer is flowing. While we may all enjoy great NC beer on its own, beer also makes a great friend in holiday cooking. We reached out to some of our favorite foodies in the NC beer community for tips and recipes on incorporating NC beer into your holiday favorites. Check out their insights below to add NC beer to your holiday cooking from appetizers to dessert.
Still warming up to the idea of cooking with beer? Whit Baker & Sean McKinney from Bond Brothers Beer Company have shared a short list of tips and tricks to make adding beer to your holiday cooking a breeze. Check them out below:
-Match intensity of dish to intensity of beer (lighter dishes call for more delicate beers when cooking)
-When in doubt, use regional beers with regional dishes.
-Low bitterness beers are best for cooking.
-Do not reduce beer! (even the slightest bitterness can become unbearable very quickly)
-If too bitter, small amounts of sugar, salt, or acidity may be added to balance.
-Taste as you go!
-Acidic beers are good substitutes for vinegar.
-Use lighter beers for steaming or poaching.
-Beer can be used to lighten batter thanks to the carbonation
-Add richness to soups or gravy with richer beers (ie. dopplebocks, scotch ales, etc.)
Need something to tide you over until the main course? Give this chestnut soup from Sean Lily Wilson of Fullsteam a shot. It’s sure to fill your bowl and your belly. While it doesn’t have beer in it, it pairs nicely with a Farm’s Edge: Brumley Forest, a nice Baltic Porter brewed with foraged black walnuts, hickory nuts, and sassafras. (We’re just getting you ready for the turkey.)
Local Chestnut Soup
4 tbsp. butter
3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
1 (24-oz.) jar or can of peeled cooked chestnuts, drained, or 1 ½ lbs. peeled roasted local chestnuts
⅓ cup local, good quality buttermilk (Maple View represent!)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally until tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add 6 cups water, chestnuts, and salt; simmer over medium-low heat until chestnuts are tender, around 45 minutes. Puree soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Whisk in buttermilk, black pepper, and sherry vinegar. Season with more salt to taste. If you want more contrasting flavor, dot top of soup with buttermilk or lace with more sherry vinegar. Serve hot.
Who doesn’t love a good drunken turkey? Advanced Cicerone Joe Vogelbacher from Sugar Creek shared his Brewmaster’s Brine recipe with us. Savory, well-seasoned, and easy to make – we can get behind that. (Plus the recipe calls for drinking another beer while you get the excess salt off the brined turkey. You can’t argue with that.)
If you’ve ever met Inez Ribustello from Tarboro Brewing Company, you would know she is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. It’s very fitting that she sent us a delicious gingerbread recipe with TBC’s Downtown Abbaye to close out our holiday cooking recipe share.
Downtown Abbaye Gingerbread Recipe
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup mild molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
2/3 cup Tarboro Brewing Company Downtown Abbaye
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.Whisk together flour, ginger, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs until blended, then beat in molasses. Mix in flour mixture on low speed until smooth, then add Downtown Abbaye and beat 1 minute (batter may look curdled.)Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until a wooded pick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack.
Have a holiday cooking recipe using NC beer that we should give a shot? Let us know below and we’ll give it our best (and then maybe send you pictures!).