Food waste is a huge problem in America. People overbuy at the grocery story, they don’t plan meals properly, and food companies are incentivized to create high product turnover.
Beer waste is a huge problem in my own home. Friends bring over shitty beer that I don’t want to drink (especially during playoff season), leave it in the back of my fridge, and force me to either throw it out or begrudgingly chug it when I eventually move apartments. These problems aren’t quite identical, and I’ve only found a solution to the second one.
Fry batters, caramels, marinades — you can throw crappy beer in pretty much any recipe that requires liquid and the cat-piss flavor will cook right out of it. Problem solved: you reduced your contribution to global food waste and you cleared up room in the fridge.
Delicious as Natty Light pancakes might be, the best way to maximize your leftover beer utility is to go with the classic combo of alcohol and pork fat. So here’s how you beer-poach a bratwurst.
Here’s what you'll need:
- Mustard Seeds
- Bay Leaves
- Chile de Arbol
- Garlic Cloves
Grab yourself a bunch of spices. These are your ticket into being able to tell people “I’m poaching these sausages” as opposed to “I’m inexplicably boiling a bunch of meat in beer.” It’s the little details that make the dish. Julia Child said that, probably.
I’m working with 1 tablespoon each mustard seeds, coriander, and whole black peppercorns, along with 3 garlic cloves, a shallot, 3 chiles de arbol, and some bay leaf. You got spicy, bitter, sweet, aromatic — all the things you want in your mouth. But don’t feel limited here; really make this bucket of beer and sausage your canvas.
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauce pot on medium heat and toast your spices for 4 or 5 minutes until they’re smelling fragrant. Drop in your garlic and shallot if you’re fucking with that, then pour in 48 ounces of beer and 1 teaspoon of salt. Crank that pot to high and allow the beer to come to a boil, being careful to stir often so it doesn’t get all frothy and overflow. If it does, just turn off the flame and zamboni it off the range. That’s fair game.
Allow the beer to reduce by half, which should take you 10-15 minutes. This is going to let the alcohol burn off and give the spices a chance to open up and such. Crank the heat down to medium and throw six bratwursts into the beer. Let those sausages poach for about 15 minutes at a simmer, then take them out and let them dry on the cutting board.
In a separate sauté pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of oil on high heat, and sear off the sausages. This is going to allow some of the beer to caramelize on the outside and will get you that great roasty, charred flavor. After the sausages are seared off, finish them in the beer for another 5 or 6 minutes.
Throw them sausages in a bun with sauerkraut and mustard or make a lovely salad with a bed of sauteed onions and a dressing of beer and pork fat. Little pro tip: If you strain the poaching liquid into a bowl, you got yourself the ingredients for a gnarly sausage French dip.
Still hungry? Check out the other installments of Bite Club here.