The Cool House: Beer, deer and chocolate

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Beer, deer and chocolate

I'm kicking off the New Year with beer. Not "hair of the dog" style, not to drink at all. I'm more of a wine/gin girl but I love to cook with beer. Today it's Vension Shepherd's Pie, hot and comforting after last night's celebrations, and especially appreciated in the arctic blast that has enveloped us since yesterday. It's a standard Shepherd's Pie recipe plus a teaspoon of cumin, another of allspice, two tablespoons of Trader Joe's Spicy Tomato Chutney (yep, still working through those leftovers), and 3/4 bottle of dark beer, I used Negra Modelo because that's what was in the 'fridge, but any dark beer will do. I also threw in the remaining spoonful of the Tapas Tomatoes as there simply weren't enough to serve as a side dish. Because venison is very lean I made sure all the olive oil, and the garlic clove, from the tapas dripped into the meat and vegetables. How good is it on New Year's Day? Perfect. This dish even smells comforting.
If you can't get your hands on some venison and straight up Shepherd's Pie doesn't do it for you, another great meat and beer recipe to keep out the winter chill is Nigel Slater's Braised Beef with Beer and Onions from The Guardian last weekend. Simple and soul-warming.
Incidentally the best quote from 2008 comes from the first paragraph of his article "I can't bear to think of a day without (just a little) chocolate. Not that I need much. But a tiny square or two is necessary if I am to retire with a feeling that my day was something." I think that's my New Year's Resolution: 2 squares of chocolate to validate every day.

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