Czechs Mix from ‘Beer Bites’

Every week, Yahoo Food spotlights a cookbook that stands out from all the rest. The week’s cookbook 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. Read more about Yahoo Food’s Cookbook of the Week here.

Photograph by John Lee

By Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker

Makes about 8 cups/800 g
Pilsner

This Czech-inspired version of a classic American beer-drinking snack uses paprika and dry milk for an extra-savory seasoning that clings to each crunchy nibble. Of all the light, crisp, and clean-tasting beer styles best suited for sipping with the mix, there’s one that stands head and shoulders above the rest: Pilsner, or pils. Originating in the verdant rolling hills of Bohemia (the area now anchored by the Czech Republic), Pilsner is a lager beer (meaning it’s cleanly cold-fermented and cold-conditioned for four to five weeks), typically 4.5 to 5.5% ABV, pale to straw gold in color, with a pronounced spiciness (derived from noble hops) and a thirst-quenching bite.

Although Czech and German breweries originated the style, American pils brewers have really shone amid the craft-beer renaissance. For example, Pivo Hoppy Pils, by Firestone Walker in Paso Robles, California, would be an ideal match here. Pivo (Czech for “beer”) is a 5.3% ABV brew made in the tradition of leaner German Pilsners, but with the additional, American-style oomph of aromatic Saphir hops, redolent of bergamot and lemongrass. Its lacy head, lip-smacking finish, and overall balance pair perfectly with this nutty mix’s familiar, savory flavors. If you don’t have access to a great local offering (pils is best very fresh), good alternatives are import versions like EKU Pils from Germany’s Kulmbacher brew­ery or, as a fail-safe option, Pilsner Urquell, the oldest commercial version of the style. (If it’s been well kept, out of sunlight and held at the right cold temperature, it can be a great beer.) The inexpensive, German-style Bitburger Pils, available at many Trader Joe’s stores, is a reliable standby for your pantry, too. 

3 cups/185 g What Chex cereal
1 cup/40 g thin pretzel sticks
1 cup/145 g unsalted almonds
1 cup/130 g unsalted cashews
1/3 cup/50 g sunflower seeds
3 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup/35 g nonfat dry milk powder
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ cup/110 g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C.

Stir together the cereal, pretzel sticks, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and garlic in a large bowl. Stir together the milk powder, paprika, salt, and onion powder in a separate small bowl. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the cereal mixture and stir until evenly coated.

Put the butter in a large roasting pan and place it in the oven to melt. When the butter is melted, after 2 to 5 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Add the cereal mixture to the pan and stir until evenly coated with the butter mixture. Spread in an even layer.

Return the pan to the oven and bake until the mix is dry and crisp, about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Let cool before serving. (Store leftovers in an airtight container at room tempera­ture for up to 1 week.)

Pivo Hoppy Pils Firestone Walker Brewing Company / Pils Heater Allen Brewing
/ Prima Pils Victory / EKU Pils Kulmbacher Brauerei / Pilsner Urquell Plzensky Prasdroj  / Bitburger Pils Bitburger Brauerei / Pilsner Breakside Brewery

Reprinted with permission from Beer Bites: Tasty Recipes and Perfect Pairings for Brew Lovers by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker

 

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