Cooking with Beer by | Jul 2009 | Issue #30

July: The Fourth of July, picnics, beach excursions, camping trips and relaxing afternoons in the backyard with friends. Barbecue goes hand in hand with beer and is perfect for this time of year. When turning on the oven during those hot summer days seems counterproductive to staying cool, go back to your roots and cook outside. Get primal!

General Smoking Instructions:
If you have a wood-fired smoker, start two pounds of charcoal in the coal box. In a medium-sized bowl, add 3/4 a pound of wood chips or chunks, and top with enough water to cover them, letting soak for 30–45 minutes. Place a water (or beer) pan under the grill rack. This will help maintain a moist environment, making for juicy barbecue. The coals are ready when they start to show a light layer of white ash on the surface. Add the prepared meat above the water pan. Adjust your air intake and amount of coals to keep the temperature between 225°F and 275°F, depending on what is being cooked. Check the coals, adding more charcoal and soaked chips/chunks periodically (usually every 45 minutes to an hour) until the meat is done.

A few tips to consider when smoking: 1) Think about what type of wood would complement the meat the best. There are several varieties to choose from: apple, cherry, hickory, fig, mesquite, peach, oak and wine/bourbon barrels. These woods are best if first soaked in either water or beer. 2) If you are planning to barbecue, then use the entire grill space. Make dinner for a few days with one fire. Try smoking tomatoes, garlic, peppers, chilies, eggplant, salmon, lamb, chicken, duck, game and so on. Take advantage of that smoke! Don’t waste it.

Note: Each time the door of the smoker and coal box is opened, heat is lost and it takes extra time to fully cook what is on the barbecue. Follow these instructions and barbecue techniques to achieve mouth-watering, lip-smackin’, great barbecue.

Conventional Cooking Directions:
If you do not have a smoker, preheat the oven to 250°F. Take the meat of choice and add 1 tsp of liquid smoke, rubbing into the meat, then add the spice rub. Take a roasting pan with a rack and place the meat in the center of the pan on the rack. Put in the center of the oven and cook for eight hours. The meat should be so tender it almost melts to the touch. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20–30 minutes before slicing.

Smoked Beef Brisket, Texas Style
What makes a Texas-style brisket so special? It’s sweet, spicy and oh … that beautiful crust surrounded by a gorgeous smoke ring. When using a rub that has high sugar content, the brisket can burn easily; therefore, a lower smoking temperature is needed, usually around 225°F to 250°F, and a long cooking time, all day or eight hours. However, the results are truly amazing and worth every salivating moment as you wait for the meat to cook.

Makes: 1 whole brisket, about 6–7 pounds when finished smoking

1 ea beef brisket, whole, no fat removed, not trimmed
1 recipe beef brisket rub

First off, get to know your butcher. Tell them that you are looking for a whole brisket, all the fat, no trimming, and that you are going to be smoking it. Most of what you will find in a meat case has already been broken down and much of the fat has been removed, which will result in a drier brisket. Take the brisket and rinse it well under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place onto a sheet tray and coat with the spice rub on both sides. Spend a few minutes massaging the spices deep into both sides of the meat. Then go back and reapply more rub, forming a good crust. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This will help cure the meat, infuse the flavors deeper into the flesh and create a better crust.

The day of the smoking, remove the brisket from the refrigerator just before the coals are started, allowing the meat to come up to room temperature. Once the smoker is ready, place the brisket fat side up and follow the smoking instructions. Usually, brisket will take 12–18 hours at a low 225°F to 250°F.

Once the meat has reached an internal temperature of 185°F, remove from the smoker and cover loosely with aluminum foil, then let rest for 20 minutes before slicing thin against the grain.

The Rubs:
Beef Brisket Rub

This sweet and salty rub has a Texas spin; perfect for beef brisket, beef ribs or even tri-tip.

Makes: Just over a cup

1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup mixed peppercorns (black, white, green & red)
1/4 cup paprika
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground (optional)

In a clean coffee grinder (used for spices), pulse the peppercorns to a coarse grind. Add to a bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients. Whisk until the mixture is fully combined. Place into a sealable container. This will last several months in a cool, dry spice drawer.

All-Purpose Rub
Perfect rub for pork, chicken or fish.

Makes: Just over 2 cups

3/4 cup paprika
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup organic sugar
3 tbsp cumin, ground
3 tbsp coriander, ground
3 tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp sage, dried and ground
2 tsp thyme, dried
2 tsp mixed peppercorns, ground
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground

In a bowl, add all the ingredients and mix well. Place into a sealable container. Will last several months in a cool, dry spice drawer.

Bastard Black Beans with Smoked Turkey Leg
Texas-style beans with a twist

Makes: 3 quarts of beans. Will feed a crowd or can be frozen into smaller portions.

1 lb. black beans, dried
1 ea smoked turkey leg (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lb. smoked bacon, sliced
1 ea yellow onion, peeled and chopped
6 ea garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp beef spice rub
3 tbsp tomato paste
28 oz fire-roasted tomatoes, diced, canned
12 oz Oaked Arrogant Bastard from Stone Brewing Co.
Bean liquor from cooking
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Start this recipe a day in advance by soaking the washed beans overnight in a container that is large enough to hold the beans times three. Cover the beans with cold water and refrigerate. The next morning, drain the soaking water and place them into a medium-sized Dutch oven. Cover with fresh, cold water, add the smoked turkey leg, turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 3–4 hours (depending on their age).

In another pot, over medium heat, add oil and bacon. Cook, stirring somewhat frequently, until the bacon just starts to turn crispy and has rendered its fat, about eight minutes. Add the onion and cook another five minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and brown sugar, cooking for another five minutes to caramelize the onions. Add the rub and tomato paste, and cook the mixture another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about four minutes. Deglaze the pot with the beer and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit.

Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them (reserving the bean liquor). Add the beans to the bacon/tomato/beer sauce and stir to combine. Take the turkey leg and shred the meat, removing the tendons and skin. Add to the beans. Check the consistency, adding some of the bean liquor if needed. Bring to a simmer and cook the beans for 20 minutes to fully combine the flavors. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

For true Texas-style beans, take the tips of the smoked brisket, dice them and add them to the beans along with any of the pan drippings from the smoker.

The Sauces:
Smoked Porter & Tomato Barbecue Sauce

Sweet, spicy, smoky and perfect on most barbecue. Could also be used in place of a cocktail sauce for smoked shrimp.

Makes: 1 quart

1/4 cup olive oil
1 ea yellow onion, peeled and diced
5 ea garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 ea chipotle peppers, packed in adobe sauce (more if you like it spicier)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp beef brisket rub
1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
2 tbsp adobe sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
8 ea Roma tomatoes, smoked*
22 oz Smoked Porter, from Alaskan Brewing Co. or Stone Brewing Co.
kosher salt to taste

*While the brisket is cooking, add the whole tomatoes to the smoker and let smoke for four hours.

In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil shimmers on the bottom, add the onions and sauté for five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, minced chipotle peppers and brown sugar, stirring another five minutes and caramelizing the onions. Add the rub and toast the spices for one minute, then add the adobe sauce and tomato paste. Cook for another two minutes to caramelize the paste, which intensifies the tomato flavor of the final sauce. Dice the tomatoes and add to the sauce, stirring to mix, and cook for another two minutes, reducing any liquid from the tomatoes. Deglaze the pan with the Smoked Porter. Bring the sauce back to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt, adding more rub as needed. Transfer the sauce to a blender in batches, making sure the volume of the pitcher is no more than half full. Cover the pitcher first with the lid, then a towel (just in case it splatters); start on low speed and increase to high speed, puréeing the sauce to a smooth consistency. Transfer to a quart-sized jar and chill. Cover with a lid once cool.

IPA Mustard Sauce
Playing with the idea of South Carolina mustard sauce for pork with a little California mixed in.

Makes: 1 pint

12 oz IPA, such as Blind Pig, Sierra Nevada Torpedo or Green Flash West Coast IPA
1 tsp all-purpose rub
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
8 oz Sierra Nevada Pale Ale mustard or other beer mustard
kosher salt to taste

In a small saucepan, add the IPA, rub, sugar, vinegar and mustard. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for five minutes. Whisk to combine. Remove from the heat and place into a container. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sauce should be refrigerated and will last several weeks.