I like adding beer to things. In small quantities, like in the chili below, it adds a little depth, a touch of sweetness, and a little bite. Too much, and it might dominate in the wrong way, especially true with bitter beers. I've made beer sauces that just turned too bitter (I made one for a leg of wild boar I was roasting using Hövels Original), and Irish stews that were too roasty from too-generous a helping of that cooking stout, Guinness, so the choice of beer can make huge difference. I think a good way of choosing a beer for cooking with, at lease on a first pass, is whether you'd drink that beer with the food anyway. A Weissbier gravy goes really with pork, for example (and some day I'll share my cider/apple juice/cranberry sauce, which I found goes great with roast duck).
But experimentation is the best fun, and throwing a few glugs of the beer you are drinking while cooking can sometimes produce the best results, a bit like this recipe. Let's see if I can remember this. For eight people, you will need:
- 1Kg Ground beef
- about 150g Smoked blutwurst (say a 10-15cm length), finely diced
- 2 Onions, diced
- Red pepper, diced
- 4 Garlic cloves, crushed
- Olive oil
- 6 tsp Paprika
- 4 tsp Cumin powder
- 4 tsp Chilli powder
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (optional, I sometimes add a little)
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or more to taste
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Crushed black pepper
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 400g cans of peeled tomatoes, diced up a bit
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 1 330ml bottle of Köstritzer, or other similar Schwarzbier
- 300ml of water or beef stock
- 2 400g cans Red kidney beans, drained
- 2 400g cans Black beans, drained
- 1 400g can of those big-ass white beans, drained
- 2-4 pieces of Dark chocolate
What to do with all that stuff:
- Large pot, little olive oil, brown that beef, draining fluids so it fries a little, and doesn't stew. When done, put into a bowl and set aside.
- In the same pot, a little more olive oil, fry the onions till soft, throw in diced red pepper, crushed garlic and smoked blutwurst, and continue till onions just begin to brown.
- Return browned beef to the pot.
- Add all the herbs and spices, except the bay leaf, stir and fry for a minute or two.
- Add the diced, canned tomatoes and tomato puree, stir.
- Add the beer and water/stock, throw in the bay leaves. Stir, and leave till it's bubbling a bit again.
- Add the drained beans, stir, drop in the pieces of chocolate.
- If you have fresh (or frozen) chillis, drop a few in whole (I like the chocolate habanero).
- Turn the heat down low, put on tight-fitting lid and leave to lightly simmer for at least an hour, or more if you can.
Serve with a little sour cream, an array of chilli sauces to allow people to heat it up to the level they like (this one is fairly mild, as my 5 year old son loves it) and whatever other stuff you like with chili. I'll also put out a small bowl of dark chocolate pieces, for people to throw into their bowl, but be careful, a little goes a long way. And of course, serve with the beer you made it with.
Perfect for freezing, and even better after a day or two sitting in the pot. Guten Appetit!