Beer is the 5th food group as far as I’m concerned. It has often played second fiddle to wine when it comes to pairing and cooking, but beer is perfect for both. The flavors found in beer with its combination of malt, hops, and yeast can really complement food and bring your meal to new heights. I recently acquired The American Craft Beer Cookbook by John Holl. It features recipes collected from various breweries and beer-centric restaurants across the country. I decided to try my hand at the braised beef short ribs made with Brother Thelonious Belgian-style abbey ale from North Coast Brewing Company.
There is a lot of variety to be found in this cookbook. Each dish channels the local flavors of the brewery or restaurant it came from. The book offers suggestions for pairings, and many of the recipes also include beer as an ingredient. Living in Utah does limit the availability of many of the highlighted beers, but there are plenty of suggestions for alternatives. Brother Thelonious is currently available at the Utah DABC, but any Belgian dark strong ale will give the beef the richness desired and add some sweet undercurrents of cherry and fig. I suggest allowing plenty of time for preparation and cooking. These short ribs can’t be rushed.
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 pounds beef short ribs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 head garlic
2 cups beef broth
1 cup North Coast Brother Thelonious ale, or similar strong ale
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons beef base
Fresh thyme sprigs (garnish)
- Prepare all vegetables. Peel the garlic and cut each clove in half.
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the peppercorns and mustard seeds together. You can also use a coffee grinder. Just make sure it’s clean. Combine with salt and cayenne. Preheat the oven to 350°F, pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel, and rub those babies down with the spices.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on high. When the oil starts to smoke, cook the meat on all sides until brown. Transfer the ribs to a large Dutch oven.
- Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the skillet. Stir and cook until the vegetables are golden brown (5-7 minutes). Transfer the veggie mixture to the Dutch oven.
- Combine the beef broth, beer, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, honey, and beef base and use it to deglaze the skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the liquid to the Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 2 ½ hours. Be sure to cook long enough for the beef to get tender.
- While cooking the meat prepare creamy polenta or boiled potatoes as a companion for the meat and sauce.
- Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and keep it warm while you heat the sauce to a boil over medium/high heat. Reduce to preferred thickness. Serve the ribs over polenta or next to boiled potatoes, dressing everything with sauce. Garnish with fresh thyme.
I chose creamy polenta to go with my short ribs. It was so good! I love the blend of sweet, spicy, tomatoey, and tangy. This is a comfort food for sure! Don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of the North Coast Brother Thelonious Ale to go with your meal. You might want a friend or two to share it with because it makes 6-8 servings. Or just enjoy the leftovers for a week. I’m not accustomed to cooking up a storm like this, but I think I need to do it more often. I look forward to trying more recipes from The American Craft Beer Cookbook. Perhaps it’s time for a dinner party with beer friends!