By Katie Crenshaw
Cooking with beer and wine is almost as fun as drinking it!
In the past, you may have used a splash of red wine in making spaghetti sauce or added a dark brew to enhance the flavor of a chocolate cake. For this issue, I’ve curated these special recipes to explore other ways in which beer and wine can make an appearance in the kitchen.
My family is from Wisconsin. Besides the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin is known for beer, bratwurst and cheese. In the following recipe, you’ll learn how to cook amazing brats.
First, I briefly grill them to crisp the skin.
Then I cook them long and slow in the Crock-Pot to allow the flavors of the onions and beer to absorb. Brats can handle a strong beer flavor so this is an opportunity to cook with one of your favorite local craft beers. I used an IPA made by Dirtbag Ales, a brewery on Legion Road. This beer has strong hoppy characteristics that complement the brats really well. If you are not big on beer, but still want to try it when you cook brats, I suggest using a light beer.
The Best Slow Cooker Beer Brats and Onions Recipe
¼ cup butter
2 local beers
½ cup sweet barbecue sauce
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp hot sauce
Slice onions into thick rings.
Sauté onions in butter until softened, but not completely cooked. Do not caramelize.
In a mixing bowl, combine barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard and hot sauce. Mix well.
Add onions to slow cooker.
Pour barbecue sauce mixture over onions and mix well.
Grill brats about 3 minutes on each side to crisp the outer skin.
Add brats to slow cooker.
Pour beer over onions and brats.
Cook in slow cooker 6 to 7 hours on low.
I don’t know about you, but slushies were among my favorite childhood treats. What’s more fun than a regular slushy? A grown-up version. This Strawberry and Mango Wine Blender Slushy is easy to make and easier to drink! Use your favorite North Carolina wine. I recommend the Biltmore Chardonnay. Cheers!
Strawberry and Mango Wine Blender Slushy
1 cup ice cubes
2 cups frozen mango slices or cubes
2 cups frozen strawberries
1 ½ cup Chardonnay
Makes 2 wine slushies.
In a blender, combine frozen mango, ½ cup ice cubes and ¾ cup Chardonnay. Blend until completely smooth. (You may add more Chardonnay if you want the slushy thinner.)
Pour mixture evenly into two wine glasses.
Rinse out blender.
Add frozen strawberries, ½ cup ice cubes and ¾ cup Chardonnay to blender.
Blend until completely smooth.
Pour evenly over the two mango slushies.
This swanky retro Port Wine Cheese Ball recipe is something you would imagine being served in an episode of “Mad Men.” I add a little twist by incorporating cayenne pepper to give the cheese ball some sneaky heat. I also add seasoned salt to balance the sweet flavor. Spread it on crackers or apple slices for a fun party appetizer.
Port Wine Cheese Ball
1 cup sliced almonds
8 oz fine grated sharp cheddar, freshly shredded
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup port wine
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp seasoned salt
crackers or apple slices to serve with
Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake almond slices in baking dish for 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.
In a food processor, add cheddar, cream cheese, port wine, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and seasoned salt. Pulse until completely mixed and smooth.
Using a spatula, transfer cheese mixture into a food storage container for 2 or more hours until it is firm.
When the cheese mixture is firm, empty it onto the center of a cut piece of parchment paper. Form the mixture into a ball. You can use the parchment paper to help you form the ball.
Cut an additional piece of parchment paper. Place toasted almond slices on top.
Roll the cheese ball in the toasted almonds until it is completely covered with the toasted almonds.
Serve with sliced apples or your favorite crackers.
My first attempt at creating this Cheesy Jalapeno Beer Bread was a complete failure. I really wanted to incorporate a local craft beer. I cooked a beautiful loaf, took a bunch of great pictures, cut a slice of bread and ate it. To my dismay, it was AWFUL! The beer was way too hoppy and it overpowered the bread. It broke my heart to scrap the pictures and start all over. But I am so glad I did.
My second batch of Cheesy Jalapeno Beer Bread was INCREDIBLE. I tweaked the recipe and used a cheap light beer. Originally, I used fresh jalapenos and they ended up tasting bland in the baked bread. The second time around, I switched to pickled jalapenos and I was extremely happy with the result. Meanwhile, the light beer offered a soft flavor that did not overpower the bread. My second round of pictures weren’t quite as lovely (I didn’t have the same beautiful window lighting as I had my first go-round), but the taste of this bread recipe more than made up for that loss. It is absolutely DELICIOUS! I am pretty proud of it. It is very easy to make and it’s a perfect excuse to get rid of any leftover cheap beer that’s lingering in the back of your refrigerator. Save the good local craft beer for brats and drinking!
Cheesy Jalapeno Beer Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 cup sliced pickled jalapeno peppers
1 ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese
12 oz beer (a lighter tasting beer)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Fold in 1 cup of cheddar cheese and pickled jalapeno peppers reserving a few pickled jalapenos to add to the top of bread.
Create a well in the center of flour mixture and pour beer into the center.
Mix with spoon until the flour absorbs the beer being careful not to overmix. Dough will be sticky.
Place dough into a greased loaf pan.
Top dough with the remaining jalapeños and sprinkle on the remaining ½ cup of cheese.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes until bread is done.
Remove from oven and allow bread to rest in pan for 5 minutes.
Remove bread from loaf pan and cool bread on wire rack until completely cooled to retain moisture.
Slice and eat after completely cooled.
I hope you enjoy these recipes. For more recipes, please check out my blog at www.aforkstale.com. I would love to hear how your recipes turned out! Until then, happy eating and drinking!