Inevitably as you are cooking and trying out recipes you will come across something that calls for wine. This is usually something that is braised. There is a reason for adding wine to tough cuts of meat or to stewed juices. It’s not simply for something wet. The acid in the wine tenderizes meat. So when someone on a cooking show says to substitute chicken stock or water for wine I want to scream. Depending on the dish and what you are trying to accomplish, stock or water are usually not a valid substitute. At least if you are such a tea-totaler that you will have no alcohol touch your lips, add some vinegar to that water or stock so the liquid can actually get some work done – you need some acid in there baby.
I digress though. I know sometimes things need wine, but, sometimes I don’t like the flavor that the wine gives to the dish. Or more often than not, I don’t have a cup or less of wine sitting around waiting to tenderize a dish. In walks beer because I always have a beer on hand. And, bonus, if I only need a half cup or cup, cook gets to drink the rest of the bottle. Much easier than polishing off the rest of a bottle of wine!
But what I have found to my delight is that I like the flavor much better. I’m talking about chili, osso buco, lasagna, roast chicken, short ribs, chicken piccata, jambalaya, meatloaf, anything that is simmering or roasting for a while – beer improves it. The dish does not taste of beer – it’s sneaky and smart that way. Unlike most wines which will get stronger with heat. It just does the moistening and tenderizing job and give some umami or depth to your dish. (And, I plan to give the turkey a taste of it this year just to prove my point!)
So, don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand. Don’t wonder if beer will sub because I am here to tell you that it is becoming one of my favorite cooking ingredients. I’ve tested it and I will vouch for its effectiveness as a tenderizer and flavor enhancer.