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Cooking with Craft for the Holidays

Cooking with Craft for the Holidays

Well, well, here we are again! ‘Tis the season for the insanity! This year, I have a cure for the chaos of mobbed shopping, screaming kids, smelly aunts and lame office parties. There is no better excuse to booze up your holiday than with one of these ridiculously easy recipes, all designed with the ability to hide out and bend it up in your kitchen, safely tucked away from your loved ones. This season’s recipes are even set up in a way where you could easily pull a three day bender using prior “big day” preparations such as brining, injections, rubs and more. Simply stated, this is absolutely your ultimate beer-escape!

Sly Fox Holiday Glazed Fresh Ham with Pineapple
Sly Fox Christmas Ale 2013

Clove right off the bat in the aroma, other spices linger in the background of the nose. The flavor is heavily spiced with clove, a touch of cinnamon, almost pepper-like finish and a heap of nutmeg. The perfect profile for a fresh ham.

Preparing the fresh ham:

• Ham- de-boned & tied, 4-6 lbs.

The Injection:

• 12 oz. Sly Fox Christmas Ale 2013

• ¼ cup brown sugar

• ¼ cup salt

• 10 oz. H2O

Combine all of the ingredients in a pot, heat until all is dissolved, chill to 40°. Pour into your flavor injector and penetrate the ham all over.

The Rub:

• ½ cup kosher salt

• ½ cup raw sugar

• 1 tbsp. black pepper

• 1 tbsp. allspice

• 2 tbsp. Chinese five spice

• 2 tbsp. garlic, granulated

• 1 tbsp. onion, granulated

Toast the black pepper and allspice, then grind into a fine powder, combine with the rest of the ingredients, generously rub your fresh ham on all sides. Store at least 12 hours, up to 24. Throw that bad boy in the smoker with hickory, 225° for 6-8 hours, to an internal of 180°. Allow 20 minutes to rest. Yes, you can simply roast this in your oven and still achieve earth-shattering results, but be sure to use a roasting pan with a rack to prevent inedible bark.

The Glaze:

• 1 can Sly Fox Christmas Ale

• 1 cup raw sugar

• 1 cup white wine vinegar

• 1 tbsp. molasses

Combine all of the ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer until coating the back of a spoon. Then, glaze the ham all over. Thin slice against the grain and serve immediately. For additional brightness, add some diced grilled pineapple to your glaze before application.


Etrusca Spiked Chorizo with Kale, Sweet Potato & a sunny Duck Egg
Dogfish Head Etrusca

The aroma is straight up fruit, a lot of pomegranate with a lingering scent of hazelnut. The flavor is slightly grapey, almost chardonnay-like but with the depth of some serious complex fruit. Because of the nutty domination in flavor, I use this beer as a substitute for tequila when making our own chorizo. The beer adds some nice nutty notes, giving the chorizo an almost Romesco-like combination.

The Chorizo:
• 2.5 lbs. ground pork shoulder

• ½ cup Etrusca, opened one night prior to reduce carbonation

• 1 tbsp. ancho powder

• 1 tbsp. sweet smoked paprika

• 1 tsp. minced garlic

• 1 tsp. minced onion, sautéed

• 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano

• 1 tsp. black pepper

• ½ teaspoon ground allspice


Whisk all of the above ingredients together, with 1 oz. kosher salt, reserving the pork aside. Chill your spice liquid to at least 38° degrees, then fold into your ground pork gently. Chill again, then roll your chorizo into 1 oz. balls. Sauté your chorizo, along with 1lb. cubed sweet potato and 1 bunch of washed kale, stems removed. Hit your mix with some ground black pepper, star anise and Chinese Five Spice. Season well with salt and place in a casserole dish. Bake at 350° until potatoes are tender, then top with some sunny eggs; the perfect finish for any holiday dish.


Winter Cheers Cauliflower Salad with Pecorino & Red Chilies
Victory Winter Cheers

The aroma is very Belgian, with a flickering funk from the yeast and small amounts of coriander. Extremely well-carbonated with a ultra-crisp finish. Flavor is of light spice, a hint of clove with very slight tart fruit. Easily one of the best wheat beers that I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Crisp vegetables with a refreshingly sharp vinaigrette was definitely the call for this simple recipe.

The Vinaigrette:

• 4 oz. Winter Cheers

• 4 oz. rice wine vinegar

• 1 oz. garlic


Combine all in a blender and purée until smooth, then slowly add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil and ½ a cup olive oil. Thicken with 1/8 tsp Xantham gum until coating a spoon.Bring a pot to a rolling boil, with more than enough room for 1 head of cut cauliflower. Salt the water extremely liberally, reminiscent of ocean water. Throw in the vegetable, time for three minutes and remove. Set aside and allow to cool evenly to room temperature. Then chill. Once cooled, toss your cauliflower with the Winter Cheers vinaigrette, along with paper-thin sliced Fresno chilies and paper thin slices of Pecorino Romano cheese. For ultima texture, add some crispy fried capers and fried shallots to really uplift this easy to do pairing.


Brooklyn Winter Yukon Cheddar Mash with Peperoncini
Brooklyn Winter Ale

Aroma is of toasted barley, definitive caramel with a typical English-style bitter aroma. Very sessionable, with the perfect set of hops. I could easily dull out the holiday noise of relatives with this essential life-saving beer. Damn, Brooklyn’s good.

For the Cream:

• 6 oz. Brooklyn Winter

• 6 oz. Heavy cream, reserve one tbsp. cold for emulsification

• 1 lb. New York extra sharp white cheddar. Grated, and room temp

• 1/8 tsp. Xanthan gum

• 1 tsp. white pepper, ground

• 3 oz. peperoncini, minced

• 2 oz. cream cheese


Combine the beer and cream along with the white pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil. Place the liquids in your blender, set on high and slowly add ½ the cheese, then the reserved cream along with the Xanthan gum to stabilize you creamy sauce–then the rest of the cheese. While you are preparing the cream, boil 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes until tender. Once your potatoes are done, process through a food mill, then fold in your cheesy beer sauce. Salt to taste, along with cold butter to taste and serve immediately. For extra holiday cheer, reserve 1/3 the cheesy sauce, and ladle over the mash like bad ass gravy


Lancaster Winter Warmer Baked Beans with Queso Fresco
Lancaster Brewing Winter Warmer

The aroma is intensely deep caramel, with a touch of molasses. The flavor personifies its aroma with some back strap, burnt sugar and almost no hop bitterness. This immediately made me think of the depth and complexity of a good batch of hardcore baked beans. These beans are solid enough to do the back up vocals of any family holiday gathering and extremely easy to prepare.

The Beans:

• 1lb. dried black beans, rinsed & soaked over night

• 1 bottle Winter Warmer

• 2 tbsp. molasses

• 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar

• 1 cup bacon

• 1 cup minced onion

• ¼ cup minced garlic

• ¼ cup diced poblano pepper

• 2 tbsp. black bean paste (Asian market)

• 1 smoked ham hock

• 2 tbsp. toasted cumin

• 1 tbsp. curry powder

• 1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika


In a large pot, sauté your bacon. Once the bacon has rendered, add your garlic and onion. Continue at a low temp for about 5 minutes. Then slowly add your poblanos and spices while continuously stirring to prevent major sticking. Once all of your spices have become fragrant, throw in the beer, stirring deep to pick up anything that has stuck to the bottom. Add the remainder of the ingredients, cover, and bake until the beans are tender at 300°. Once finished, brighten your beans up with a shot of red wine vinegar an a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Hot sauce too, if that’s your thing. I enjoy these beans topped with shaved red onion, cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. Also, be sure to salt at the end to prevent tough bean skin.


Flying Fish Grand Cru Rubbed Leg of Lamb
Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve

Aroma is of your typical beet funkiness, and a bit yeasty in the nose, with a slight light caramel. Taste is not far from the profile backed with some residual maltines with a white raisin undertone. Because of this profile, melding these flavors with some chili paste for a lamb rub came to mind. The maltiness of this craft brew will definitely off set any bitterness produced by slow roasting with chilies as well as smoking the leg should you choose the BBQ path.


• 8 oz. Flying Fish Grand Cru Reserve

• 1 cup Gochujang red chili paste

• 4 tbsp. hot smoked Spanish paprika

• ¼ cup salt

• ¼ cup sweet Thai chili sauce

• 1 tbsp. Mae Ploy red curry paste

• 2 tbsp. fish sauce

• Zest from 2 lemons


Combine all ingredients in food processor. Purée all to a fine paste, and generously coat the entire leg of lamb. Marinate overnight, then either slow roast at 300° in your oven or smoke with cherry wood until an internal temperature of 130° is achieved. Rest for 20 minutes, then serve very thinly sliced against the grain. Brighten this lamb dish by serving with a Tzatziki sauce. Be sure to make this sauce with strained yogurt for the best consistency.


Victory Red thunder Scrapple Cubes With Mushrooms and Smoked Beets
Victory Red Thunder

Aroma is of deep oak and grape resin, much like a big burgundy with the addition of a ton of earthiness and a bit of funk. Flavor is very oaky, slight cocoa finish and a bit raisiny. Drinks more like a big red wine than any beer that I have ever had. Naturally, a good pairing for this includes beets, mushrooms and blue corn.


• 3 cups blue cornmeal

• 1 cup hi-gluten flour

• 1 tbsp. granulated garlic

• 1 tbsp. granulated onion

• 1 tsp. ground black pepper

• 1 tbsp. mushroom soy sauce

• 1 cup Shiitake mushrooms, sautéed until all of the moisture is removed, finely chopped

• 1 cup smoked (mesquite) beets, until tender, peeled then finely diced

• 16 oz. Victory Red Thunder

• 16 oz. mushroom stock (use your mushroom stems, onion, lemongrass & ginger)


Place your liquids in a pot and bring to a boil, during which you will combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Once boiling, slowly whisk in your dry ingredients until pulling from the edge of your pot, like polenta. Once thick, fold in you mushrooms, beets, and season aggressively with salt to taste. Pour your mixture onto a sheet pan or casserole dish. Once cool, cut the scrapple into cubes and either deep or shallow fry until very crispy. For additional depth, make a gastrique with the beer and drizzle over the cubes. For Ultima results, chill your mix overnight before cubing and frying.

About Mat Falco

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