27 April 2009

Beer Chili?

Okay, folks, I've been playing with a variety of chili recipes of late, both meaty and vegetarian (my wife gets the latter). I enjoyed the heck out of the chili cookoff at Metropolitan Coffeehouse, and am working on adding a chili event to Baltimore Beer Week, headed up no doubt by "Nick the Beer Trekker."

But can someone explain to me why I keep seeing chili recipes where beer is added?

What the heck? Unless you add something outrageous like Dogfish Head World Wide Stout or a Belgian Quad to a mild chili, there's no way in Hades the flavor is going to get through. And any alcohol will cook off quickly. So what in tarnation is the excuse for adding beer to a chili, other than a placebo or psychological effect or an offering to the Chili Gods?

(For the record, I grew up in a house where my father was a great cook, worked in kitchens during my college years, and spent a while as a head cook and restaurant manager. I know at least something about cooking and cuisine.......)


HoCoJoe said...

I add beer in my chili when I want to stretch it out (i.e. company's coming over). The alternatives are water, or a broth/stock. The water adds nothing. The broth/stock that I get is in 1 quart container. I usually only add about 1 1/2 cups of liquid (aka 12 oz) so a bunch of the stock would go to waste. That leaves the beer as the right size for the recipe. Having said that why beer over water? I use a sweeter beer (think Lagunitas Censored) and feel that it does sweeten the chili. This additional sweetness helps balance any spice in the recipe, just as hops should balance the sweetness.

J said...

I will add beer to chili when I use leaner meat (ground chicken or turkey) and need an extra flavor that broth and stock can't provide. And it makes pairing a whole lot easier once you are ready to sit and eat!