Last month I wrote about which beers are perfect for the backyard but I want to take the backyard beer to the next level and incorporate it into the food itself. It’s easier than you think.
BBQ’ing is the oldest form of cooking and the debate still rages whether the Neolithic Revolution was caused by our ancestor’s desire for bread or beer. Personally, I like the idea of primitive man hanging out around the fire, grilling a sabre tooth tiger while guzzling some dubious, cloudy beer. It’s only natural that we should not only drink beer while BBQ’ing but we should include beer in our BBQ.
Where should we start? The easiest and first place is marinating. Beer contains enzymes that help break down the tougher tissues in meat thus transforming a tough cut into something tenderer. Some of the flavour of the beer will also be infused with the meat so don’t be afraid to try something fruity if you like. It’s as easy as picking your favourite brew and letting your meat of choice soak in it for as little as 20 minutes to as long as 24 hours. Once you’ve mastered that, the next step is brining.
Brining is essentially the same but with the addition of salt and sugar. I usually use this on leaner cuts of meat like chicken breasts, turkey or pork tenderloin to help keep them juicy while you grill them. You’ll need to scale accordingly but generally you use 3 litres of water, 1 can of beer, 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1 cup of brown sugar. You don’t need to drown the object but you should have it completely covered. Sometimes a pot is easier than a large Ziploc for bigger objects and I have a special cooler that is reserved solely for brining turkeys in. One thing you have to keep an eye out for is “seasoned” meats though. If it’s already “seasoned” or injected with anything don’t brine it or the meat will be too salty.
Beer is easy to work with and fairly forgiving but the key is to just experiment. Add other spices in the mix or play with new styles of beer. If you don’t have a BBQ — no worries — both of these methods work just as good in the oven as they do on the grill.
Aside from BBQ, summer is also the prime beer festival time of the year. The Toronto Festival of Beer shifted out of August and into the end of July a couple of years ago (if you missed it keep your eyes on www.beerfestival.ca for next year) and always delivers one of the best beer experiences in the city.
Toronto Beer Week runs September 13th–21st and it’s
like the “Summerlicious” of
beer events. Taking place at
fine bars and restaurants around the GTA it is a celebration of craft beer from around Ontario and beyond. Check out
for more details.
Some beers to marinate with:
• Pork Tenderloin: Nickel Brook Green Apple Pilsner
• Chicken Breasts: Denison’s Weissbier
• Turkey: Creemore Spings Pilsner
• Whole Chicken: Muskoka Cream Ale