Beer Mac n Cheese

Last week, while perusing Pinterest, I spotted this picture:

It had the description: beer mac n cheese. I clicked and it took me to the blog, How Sweet it Is with the full recipe. The author compared the taste of it to beer and cheese soup and it looked nice and easy to make.

Now, I don’t love the typical mac n cheese. Cheese itself has never been one of my favorite foods, on its own. I like it on pizza and used in recipes, but eating it straight or a dish like mac n cheese has never really been my thing. But add in some beer and this is now a dish I could get along with!

I did adapt the recipe according to my tastes. Start the dish by cooking the pasta according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside. You can use whole wheat pasta in this recipe, it holds up to the cheese sauce well and makes the dish a bit healthier. While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

Once melted, add the diced onion and cook for about 5-7 minutes until translucent but not brown.

Add the flour and stir. Cook, stirring, until the mixture gets a nice golden color, about 2 minutes.

Add the milk, beer and cheeses, while stirring. Stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Add the paprika, nutmeg and pepper.

Pour the cheese over the noodles in a stir slightly.

Top with bread crumbs and some parmesan cheese and small pieces of butter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. Top with sliced fresh basil.

Serve with a side of arugula tossed with vinaigrette.

The mac n cheese tasted good. The consistency was great with the whole wheat pasta and I enjoyed the fresh basil however I think next time I will add Gruyere cheese instead of parmesan and use a darker beer. I only had Yeungling in on hand so that’s what I used this time and I would like liked more of a beer taste. The whole thing was good, I just found myself wanting stronger flavors. I can’t wait to make it again!

Here is the recipe:

Beer Mac n Cheese
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Author: adapted from How Sweet It Is
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch of black pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Prepare water for pasta and boil according to directions, shaving 1-2 minutes off of cooking time since pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
  3. Heat a saucepan over medium high heat and add butter. Once melted and sizzling, cook the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to create a roux and cook until bubbly and golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add milk and beer into saucepan whisking constantly, then add cheeses and stir until melted. Turn heat down to medium and continue to stir, cooking for 5-6 minutes while mixture thickens. It will most likely NOT thicken like regular mac and cheese because of the beer, but you want it to thicken a little bit. Stir in pepper, paprika and nutmeg.
  4. Add noodles (once cooked and drained) to a casserole dish, then pour cheese over top, mixing gently to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs and an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then top with fresh basil.

 

Beer Braised Chicken

I saw this recipe while browsing FoodNetwork.com and thought it looked great. Anything that uses beer and creates a stew is an automatic winner in our house. Although this Winter has been relatively mild compared to the last few years, I’m still trying to make as much stew as possible since it will soon be warm and stew is never as satisfying when it can’t warm you up.

To start the beer braised chicken, cook the cubed bacon in your stew pot until browned.

Using a slotted spoon, remove it to a plated lined with a paper towel. Add olive oil to the hot pot.

While the bacon was cooking, you should have seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper and then dredged it in flour. (The recipe calls for chicken thighs here, but Eric loves drumsticks so I choose to get a variety of thighs and drumsticks. Since they are both in the dark meat family, you can easily substitute your favorite cut of chicken but I do recommend using bone-in chicken, it gives the dish alot more flavor.)

Cook the chicken in the hot oil until nicely browned and then flip over to brown the opposite side.

Yes, the one side of the chicken got a little dark. Hey, it happens! Perhaps this is an example of one of the very few bad reasons to have a TV in the kitchen…perhaps.

Once all sides of the chicken is browned, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot. I used Yeungling Lager as my beer of choice simply because that’s what we had in the fridge. Next time, I would like to try something a bit darker simply for more depth of flavor, but it worked well. I also added carrots to this recipe as per some of the reviews and added it to the recipe, they add a great component that the stew was lacking.

Simmer uncovered for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the pot and whisk in a mixture of cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce, if desired.

Add the chicken back to the pot, top with fresh parsley and the cooked bacon.

Serve.

The stew was really flavorful and I liked the beer flavors along with the mustard and chicken. You can see the thyme and whole grain mustard seeds throughout the dish. This whole meal was ready in about 45 minutes on a week night and was low in fat! It’s definitely a keeper.

Here’s the recipe from FoodNetwork.com:

Beer Braised Chicken
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Author: Adapted from Food Network Kitchens
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1/4 pound slab or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (preferably brown ale)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 1/2 pound small red-skinned new potatoes, halved
  • 1 pound sliced carrots
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon water plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off the excess. Add the olive oil to the drippings in the pot. Add the chicken in batches and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, then flip and sear the other side, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the beer, onions, potatoes, mustard, sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to the pot and stir, making sure the chicken is fully submerged. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Discard the thyme and stir in the bacon and parsley.
  4. Remove chicken from pot. Whisk in the water and cornstarch mixture for a thicker sauce. Add chicken back to pot and serve.

 

 

 

Sunday Pot Roast

I hate how the weekends fly right by. I always have high hopes for my weekends and somehow house work and obligations always seem to creep in and take over. This makes my Sunday evenings more stressful as I run around trying to get things ready for the week and desperately hope to get 1 hour to myself to catch up on the newspaper or watch one of the 2 shows that I love  on Sunday nights. This weekend was no exception. Last night, I was working on the blog while trying to watch a movie with Eric, a movie that we rented 2 days ago and never found time to watch; a basket of clean laundry was waiting to be folded and I found myself wishing for simpler Sundays.

Sundays is a day that has always had a greater feeling of rest. Sunday afternoon naps are always better than Saturday ones. Movies watched on a Sunday always feel less rushed and Sunday food is always warm, delicious and satisfying.

Last week, I made pot roast for Sunday dinner and it was amazing. It cooked most of the day and filled the house with a wonderful and lingering smell; I could still smell it Monday after coming home from work! I don’t make pot roast often, it’s such a “1950′s American Sunday Dinner” and that’s not usually my style, but there is something to be said for the American nostalgia that comes with making pot roast on a Sunday. It makes me feel like Joan Cleaver (the mom from Leave it to Beaver).

I found a recipe that got rave reviews, by Ina Garten on Foodnetwork.com. Most of Ina’s recipes get rave reviews but this one was out of the park. And after making it, I fully concur.

Start the recipe by prepping all the ingredients. There is a lot of chopping. You should end up with garlic, onions, carrots, celery, leeks and fresh herbs.

 

Prep the meat by allowing it to come to room temperature before you cook it. (This will prevent the meat from being tough or chewy.) Dry the meat with paper towels and then season it on all sides with salt and pepper.

Dredge the entire cut of meat in flour.

Heat oil in the dutch oven over medium heat and brown all sides of the roast, about 4-5 minutes per side.

Remove the roast to a large plate. Add more olive oil to the pot and add in the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, leeks, salt and pepper. Saute for 10-15 minutes until tender but not brown.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the herb bundle.

Use kitchen twine to tie together the rosemary and thyme and add it to the pot.

Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Place in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and then turn the heat down to 250 degrees for another 1.5 hours for a total of 2.5 hours in the oven. The house will smell amazing and it should look like this when you take the lid off (don’t forget pot holders! the whole dutch oven will be extremely hot!).

Remove the roast and cover. At this point, if you only have a blender, blend about half of the cooking juice and stir it back into the pot. I have an immersion blender so I just used that right in the pot itself to blend all over to make the sauce smoother.

While the pot roast was cooking, I also prepared some potatoes in the Irish fashion. Simply boil them for about 20 minutes, drain the water out and put a sheet of crumbled newspaper in the top of the pot with the lid on. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. The newspaper will suck up the moisture and leave your potatoes light and fluffy! It sounds strange, I know, but it worked so well.

To serve your pot roast, slice it and pour the sauce over it on a large platter.

Serve along side the Irish potatoes.

This was the best pot roast I have ever eaten/made. The sauce was rich and thick and the meat was juicy and tender. The potatoes were fluffy and paired perfectly with the sauce. It was the perfect meal for a Sunday afternoon and a great way to start a new week with a warm, full and happy belly.

Here’s the recipe from Foodnetwork.com:

Company Pot Roast
Print
Author: Ina Garten
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 20 mins
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 (4 to 5-pound) prime boneless beef chuck roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (4 carrots)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 to 4 leeks)
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 cups good red wine, such as Burgundy
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 3 branches fresh thyme
  • 2 branches fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel. Season the roast all over with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Dredge the whole roast in flour, including the ends. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear for 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn and sear the other side and then turn and sear the ends. This should take 4 to 5 minutes for each side. Remove the roast to a large plate.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the wine and Cognac and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together with kitchen string and add to the pot. Put the roast back into the pot, bring to a boil, and cover. Place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender or about 160 degrees F internally. Turn the heat down to 250 degrees F after about an hour to keep the sauce at a simmer.
  4. Remove the roast to a cutting board. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Skim off as much fat as possible from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce and vegetables to a blender or a food processor fitted with the steel blade and puree until smooth. Pour the puree back into the pot, place on the stovetop over low heat, and return the sauce to a simmer. Place 2 tablespoons flour and the butter in a small bowl and mash them together with a fork. Stir into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring until thickened. Taste for seasonings. Remove the strings from the roast, and slice the meat. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over it.