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Five Ways to Cook With Beer — Super Bowl Style

Beer is surprisingly versatile -- use it in any (or all!) of these dishes to spice up your football-watching party

Beer and cheese bread, courtesy of Flickr user gin_soak

According to the Nielsen Company, the Super Bowl is the 8th-largest beer-selling event of the year. This sounds a little low, but I'm guessing it has to do with the season (July 4 is #1).

Although I enjoy a beer now and then, I find it too filling to have more than one or two in a sitting. It feels more like a meal than a beverage. In fact, why not turn it into a meal? Beer imparts great flavor to all kinds of dishes, and a surprising variety of cultures use it in their cooking. It makes sense. After all, people cook with wine all the time.

Here are five good ways to use your next six-pack (which leaves you one to enjoy while you're cooking):

1. Chili. I tried a lot of chili recipes before I hit on one that had the right depth and concentration of flavor for my taste: this Game-Day Chili from Southern Living magazine (I substitute ground turkey for the chuck, and chicken broth for the beef broth, and no one seems to mind). The magic ingredient (aside from lots of spice), is dark beer. I've tried various kinds, including a chocolate stout and a brown ale, and all seem to work.

2. Pasta Sauce. Wine is used in tomato sauce all the time, but it never would have occurred to me to use beer until I saw this recipe for Pasta with Spicy Tomato-Beer Sauce on Saveur magazine's site. Made with Italian Bock beer, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and Kalamata olives, it sounds pretty intensely flavored, but delicious.

3. Seafood Stew. Many Latin American cultures add beer to their seafood stews, like this Arroz con Mariscos from the Food Network, or this Enchilado de Camarones from Steven Raichlen's Healthy Latin Cooking.

4. Bread. Considering that beer's invention was probably related to bread making, it seems fitting to combine the two. The blog Farmgirl Fare (which has an adorable home-page illustration) offers several delicious sounding recipes, including Beyond Easy Beer Bread with cheddar and dill, Whole Wheat Beer Bread and Onion Rye Beer Bread.

5. Dessert. As I discovered last St. Patrick's Day, Guinness and chocolate make a delicious cake—if you measure carefully. Apparently, you can also use stout to make a Beer Cream Pie, as they did at the blog Beer at Joe's. If you prefer lighter beer, you can use Belgian white beer to make these spicy White Beer Cookies, an entrant in the Food Network's Ultimate Recipe Showdown.

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About Lisa Bramen
Lisa Bramen

Lisa Bramen was a frequent contributor to Smithsonian.com's Food and Think blog. She is based in northern New York and is also an associate editor at Adirondack Life magazine.

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