Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week is Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books). DeBenedetti wrote The Great American Ale Trail, and is the founder of Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery. Slonecker is a food stylist and recipe editor, as well the author of Pretzel Making at Home and Eggs on Top.
The cover of ‘Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers’ by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books).
Beer and pizza may be a food-and-beverage match made in heaven, but a large pie with extra cheese and pepperoni is not the only option when it comes brew-friendly snacks. In Beer Bites, drinks journalist and brewery founder Christian DeBenedetti and recipe pro Andrea Slonecker team up to explore the many classic and creative possibilities for pairing pints and plates.
Beer Bites allows you to approach pairing through the food or through the beer. “Our aim,” write DeBenedetti and Slonecker, “was to make a cookbook for beer lovers and a food lover’s guide to great beer.” Wisely, the authors avoid getting bogged down in the details of beer. A quick overview of the beer-making process and guidelines for how to store, serve, and taste beer are included, but the authors keep the focus on having fun and simply enjoying and appreciating beer with food.
Czechs Mix (Photograph: John Lee)
Early in the book, DeBenedetti and Slonecker explain their methodology. There are some “rigid, geographical, historical ‘rules’” for how to organize and discuss beer styles, but that’s not what Beer Bites is about. Instead, DeBenedetti and Slonecker build their book around six broad flavor profiles: crisp and clean; fruit and spice; hoppy and herbal; sour and complex; malty, rich, and sweet; and deep, roasty, and smoky. In a colorful cheat sheet, they organize different brews into their respective categories, and offer a quick rundown of what you can expect from each. Brown ales are “medium-bodied, soft, faintly sweet, nutty” and fall under the malty, rich, and sweet category, while Belgian pale ales are “effervescent, earthy, spicy, aromatic, and flowery” and go in the hoppy and herbal group.
In each chapter, DeBenedetti and Slonecker take a slightly deeper dive into the different flavor profiles, discussing their essential characteristics and potential pairings, before moving on to recipes, which are all matched with particular styles of beer. More specific recommendations are also included, so you can seek out just the right brew when you make a recipe. You won’t find many of the larger, mass-market brands, but according to DeBenedetti and Slonecker, most of the beers should be available nearby or online — some, like Guinness or Negra Modelo can even be found at a corner convenience store.
Brussels Sprouts and Taleggio Pizza with Melting Speck (Photograph: John Lee)
Food-wise, Beer Bites offers a lot of variety. There are plenty of hearty classics and comfort food — think sliders, ribs, meatballs, and bratwurst — but they’re often given a twist. Kimchi Quesadillas, Duck Carnitas Nachos, and Tamarind-Fish Sauce Wings are good examples. Even pizza gets a fresh spin: DeBenedetti and Slonecker serve up Brussels Sprouts and Taleggio Pizza with Melting Speck, and pair it with American Pale Ale.
There’s also a welcome number of light, fresh dishes you might not expect to enjoy with beer, including Seafood Ceviche with Crunchy Quinoa; Chicken, Peach, and Zucchini Kebabs with Mint Salsa Verde; and Grilled Eggplant Rolls with Cucumber Labneh. You’ll also find recipes that call for beer in the ingredient list, such as Miso-Marinated Short Ribs made with pale ale and Chimay à la Bière Fondue, or beer fondue, made with abbey ale. Most of the recipes are savory, but a handful of desserts include Coffee Stout Tiramisù and Molasses Sticky Toffee Pudding, because even beer drinkers get the occasional sweet tooth.
Visit Yahoo Food throughout the week for recipes from Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker (Chronicle Books