Shrimp and grits gets a drunken twist at The Smith. Credit: The Smith
Maybe they were inspired by Oktoberfest, or maybe by the fact that it’s just plain tasty, but chefs are infusing beer into meats and marinades, braises and batters, seafood and syrups — even ice cream.
At Delicatessen in SoHo, chef Michael Ferraro creates a South Carolina (via Ireland) pulled pork taco served with cabbage slaw and garlic chips. “Everyone in New York does a sweet, Texas-style pulled pork, so I wanted to do something different and went with a South Carolina style,” Ferraro says. “To braise the pork we use a dark, flavorful beer like Guinness, which infuses a malty taste into the meat. The reduction really pairs well with the mustardy, vinegar-based sauce we make for the tacos.”
Adding beer to a batter is a simple way of creating a richer flavor for this crunchy coating. In Brooklyn,Pork Slope chef Dale Talde chooses beer from nearby Red Hook brewery, Sixpoint, to create a tasty coat for his fried catfish. “When we started working on creating the fried catfish dish, we immediately wanted to use Sixpoint since it is a local favorite. I wanted a really yeasty taste to give the catfish a greater depth of flavor.”
At The Smith restaurants in Manhattan, beer-battered string beans make for a crispy fried snack. Beer batter is one thing, but how about beer butter? The bespoke Smith Ale (a pale ale made by Sixpoint) is used for the bean batter and is whipped into garlic and herb butter for Smith’s grilled shrimp with jalepeño grits and green tomato salad. Smith executive chef Brian Ellis says the flavors of the shrimp and grits “are taken to another level with that subtle hint of bitterness” from the beer butter.
Recently opened East Village hotspot Picnic has two beer-infused dishes. Executive chef Nicholas Nostadt incorporates Hefeweizen into a mix of apricot nectar, Dijon mustard and herbs and spices as a marinade for mussels. And, his roasted chicken with orange cauliflower and apple mustard is finished with a beer syrup. “The spices in the Hefeweizen play well off the mussels,” says the chef, who loves “to find ways to incorporate” beer into his cooking. “As for the beer syrup,” he adds, “I love mixing sweet and savory, and incorporating a more flavorful beer into this syrup which makes it not too sweet for the roasted chicken.”
How about dessert?
Chef Laurent Tourondel uses Brooklyn Brewery’s Imperial Stout for the ice cream he pairs with his orange spiced chocolate cake at Arlington Club. Tourondel says it’s one of his favorite new desserts at the steakhouse. “The stout has a really deep, rich flavor that balances the cake nicely. When I first tasted it I knew I had to use it in a sweet dish and that it would make the perfect ice cream. It has a complex flavor that holds up to the orange and spice.”