Cooking with Beer

Originally posted on 10/25/2012

Though I wrote and posted this blog a couple of years ago on my old website, I wanted to give it a second life here, since I still love cooking this way and it's the perfect time of year for it. Now, can you find the exact beer I used then? I don't know, but you can always find something pretty close and just as good!

This is stick-to-your-ribs stuff, perfect for beating the mid-winter blahs.

I start with a couple of pieces of big, fat, beef shank. It's from the lower leg of the poor beastie. It's the cut used for osso bucco. It's a tough but flavourful cut and it's super inexpensive. This one is from Grandview Farms in Thornbury, Ontario. Grass-fed, happy cow, goodness.

I put a little drizzle of olive oil in a high-sided pan and seared the shank on both sides and a little around all the edges too. That took just a few minutes. Then I set the browned meat aside - back onto the platter for safe keeping while I do the next step.

They look good enough to eat as is, but trust me, it would be like chewing on a tire. Braising requires time and moisture. But, just look at that marrow!

Next, in goes onion, pepper, garlic, thyme. Stir, stir, stir. Fry, fry, fry. Notice, I'm not adding salt. There's a reason for that...

After a couple of minutes - when the onions have gone a bit translucent - I add a pile of sliced mushrooms. Just the regular button kind. I got these for 50% off, from the discount veggie and fruit rack. I love that rack! Stir, stir, stir. Fry, fry, fry.

Now I add my liquids - in this case beer and stock. First I pour a little for me - the beer, that is - the rest for the pan. This was the new seasonal brew from Rickard's, Oakhouse. It's a lightly oaked lager and it's quite lovely, with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Next, add some broth - chicken, veggie, beef - what ever you have on hand will do. Put the lid on, toss it in the oven at 350F and forget about it for about 3 hours.

I boiled up some potatoes and smashed them with some butter, salt, pepper and a drop more of the broth I used in the braise. Oh, and the reason I didn't add salt to the pot, is because you just never know how salty the broth will turn out to be. So, wait until the end to taste for salt.

Notice that empty bone? Uh-huh, that's right, the marrow is all dissolved into the sauce. Hallelujah and praise the lord, that be some fine marrow-enriched gravy!

If you've never tried a braise or cooked with shank, I really hope you'll give it a try. It's easy. It's delicious. And it's ever so comforting. Perfect for a winter weekend day, when you have the time to let it cook. And yes, you can do this in a slow cooker, but unless it gets super hot, you will have to sear the meat in a pan on the stove first. Then, you must remember to deglaze the pan with the beer. You can't leave all that beefy goodness in the bottom of the pan! Truly, this is a one-pot-wonder, and I like to keep it that way.

And since you cooked with it, why not serve it with another, ice cold beer?

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