Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Are you FONDue of Guinness?

The simplicity of offering house guests chips and salsa has become rather outdated. Not only is it cheap (unless you made everything from scratch), but it takes the least amount of effort in preparation. By all means we don’t need to have fresh oysters or fancy hors d'oeuvres waiting for the arrival of guests. But if we like someone enough to invite them over, the least we can do is provide something filling to eat as we happily drink the night away.

I came to this predicament hours before I had guest coming over to watch Beyonce’s halftime performance the Superbowl. Although I could have easily baked some fancy frozen wings from Whole Foods, I had too much pride. I wanted to create something unique, but also finger food appropriate. As I was sipping a cold bottle of Guinness, I realized that this was a perfect opportunity to test out a beer infused dish on my friends. Thus I’d like to present cheddar + beer + smoked sausage =  dip deliciousness. This recipe is a more eclectic version of fondue, injected with flavorful sausages, sweet onions, and a bottle of sharp dark beer.
serves about 6-8
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1/2 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Dijon or whole-grain mustard
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
One 12-ounce bottle dark beer such as Guinness
4 cups shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
6 drops of Tabasco sauce

Coat the inside of a 1-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and sauté for 2 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink in color and is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off any fat from the sausage. Add the mustard, cream cheese, and beer, stirring until the cream cheese is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar cheese, a handful at a time, until it is all incorporated. Add the Tabasco sauce, transfer to the baking dish, and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Needless to say, everyone enjoyed dipping pieces of French bread into this sinful concoction. It took less than an hour and was friendly on my wallet.

Colonel Sanders Sends His Love Between Two Buns

If there are two things that should be legally wed, it’s chicken and beer. They go together like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, pre-divorce that is. I whipped this dump and cook meal up last week when I was in such a lazy mood. Even pressing a button on the remote seemed like a task. If you ever feel like not getting out of your pajamas, much less standing over a stove for the evening, then this recipe is your best friend.

I found that a thinner barbeque sauce works best for this chicken dish. You do not want the sauce to burn and thicken on the edges of the pot. If you do like a thicker sauce, I would suggest just adding more beer (who would oppose to that?). Do note that this makes a ton of chicken. So if you’re not having a party, then hopefully you have a friend that will appreciate a free lunch….all week. 
You are welcome to use just about any kind of beer your taste buds desire. This recipe does not call for a specific brew.

serves about 8-10
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 6 large)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces of Rogue’s Chipotle Ale
32 ounces of barbecue sauce

Season chicken with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add to crockpot, then add beer and 24 ounces of barbecue sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours, tossing once or twice if desired. After 8 hours, shred and add remaining barbecue sauce. Toss chicken to coat and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to absorb everything. Serve as desired.