Hoppy Meals

Beer...It's what's for dinner. Have your favorite brew and eat it too.

At last! Beautiful, cool autumn and comfort-food season. And the perfect time of year to let beer add deep, warm flavor to any homey dish. 
Beer’s smooth, malty flavors are reason enough to add it to recipes. But it also boasts inherent meat tendering qualities that give extra juiciness to fall’s slow-braised meats.
Pairing beer with bread is a natural win. Get a great Beer Bread recipe at fwtx.com.

Modelo Chili Beans
6 servings
4 slices thick-cut bacon, slivered
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground sirloin
2, 12-ounce bottles Negra Modelo beer
2, 14-ounce cans pinto beans, undrained
1, 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1, 14-ounce can tomato sauce
¼ cup chili powder (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 - 4 teaspoons cumin, or to taste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 - 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon until almost crispy. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add sirloin and cook, stirring and chopping, until done.
2. Turn heat to medium-high and add beer, beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes, chili powder, cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Simmer 30 – 45 minutes, stirring every so often.

Cheddar and Ale Dip
about 2 ½ cups
Also called Rarebit by the English, serve this cheesy concoction as a sauce over toast or noodles. Thin with a little milk or more beer, and this delightful mix becomes a fabulous soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 - 5 green onions, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, minced
2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ bottle ale or as needed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry oregano
½ - 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook until onion is soft. Add remaining ingredients, turn heat to very low, cover skillet, and heat to melt cream cheese, stirring every so often until smooth.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 5 days. To reheat, place in a baking dish and heat in 350º oven, 20 minutes or until hot. Or microwave in suitable dish.
Serve with crackers or chips for dipping.

Beer-Braised Beef and Onions
6 - 8 servings
I like to cook this roast 1 or 2 days ahead. Refrigerate and then scrape off the layer of fat that rises to the top. To reheat, place over medium-low heat for 30 – 45 minutes.

1, 4-pound chuck roast
1 tablespoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon pepper or to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
4 large onions, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
2, 12-ounce bottles beer
1 cup beef stock or water (or as needed)
2 – 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 2 teaspoons dried
3 bay leaves

Pat roast dry and sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot. Add roast and brown on all sides. Remove to platter.
Add remaining oil and onions to the Dutch oven and cook until onions are beautifully browned; remove to a platter and set aside.
To the pot, add beer and beef stock and cook, deglazing the bottom of the pan. Add roast back to the pan, along with any juices in the platter. Add more beef stock or water, if needed, to bring liquid up to the top of the roast. Add thyme and bay leaves. Cover pot, turn heat to low, and simmer roast until very tender, about 3 hours. Add onions back to the pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
Remove roast and onions to a serving platter and cover. Turn heat to medium-high and reduce juices by half.
To serve, pull roast apart into serving pieces. Skim fat off sauce in pan, remove bay leaves, and pour over roast.

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut with Beer and Mustard
4 servings
Only four ingredients, this dish is perfect for a night when you need to throw together a quick supper. I used to double or triple it and leave it resting on the stovetop when I knew there would be stragglers wandering in from sports or music lessons. If it cooks long enough, some of the potatoes will disintegrate and deliciously thicken the sauce.
1 ½ pounds German bratwurst
1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if needed
2 pounds sauerkraut with juice (The best is found in the meat counter at Central Market.)
4 – 6 medium new potatoes, cut into fourths
2 – 4 tablespoons brown, grainy mustard
1, 12-ounce beer
Water if needed

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown bratwurst on all sides, adding a little vegetable oil if needed. When sausage is nicely browned, add sauerkraut, potatoes, mustard, and beer. Add water until level of cooking liquid almost covers bratwurst mixture. Turn heat to low and stir slightly to distribute mustard (when hot, the mixture will combine easily).
Simmer gently 20 – 30 minutes or longer.