Thursday, May 19, 2011

Beer (spring) chicken

My spring cleaning started a little late this year. To be honest, these days I just don't have the time for a real, full-on spring cleaning. What is more likely to happen is I will walk into a room and open a drawer or a cabinet and realize it is a mess. I will tackle that one corner and suddenly be hit by a cleaning frenzy that will persist until I have pretty much gone through the whole room, seaking out hidden spots or black holes (yes, those places in which all the useless crap you have lying around your apartment tends to accumulate). That is exactly what happened the other day when I opened one of my son's drawers: a folding attack ensued followed by my realising that a sorting was long overdue (you know it is time when your 2-yr old still has baby socks and a few 6-12-month tshirts lying around in there).

It also happened in the kitchen recently, when I decided to organize my overflowing cupboards. I got rid of the expired stuff (ouch!), separated cans of tuna from jams and honey, reuniting them with their long-lost friends the anchovies and capers. As I was color-coordinating my sugar in hues of white, beiges and darker browns I noticed a bottle of beer I didn't remember buying. I pulled it down from the rack and realized it was alcohol free beer. What the...? Then it hit me, I had bought that beer when I was pregnant (if you know how long ago that was, you were really attentive while reading the first paragraph) and since I am not planning another pregnancy any time soon (to say the least) I started thinking of how to get rid of it.

Throw it out? No way.
Give it to my newly-married girlfriend? Er, a touch patronizing and very cheap.
Drink it? No thank you, I've had my share of alcohol free drinks and babies.
Cook with it? Possibly.

I googled the word beer and chicken together and up came about a hundred recipes for 'beer can chicken'. Who knew that was a trend? And what do you do if you have a bottle and no BBQ? I kept searching (not that I won't consider the beer can thing, now that I discovered with further research you can do it with an oven roasted chicken too), remembering my sister-in-law makes chicken with beer. I typed in the words "birra+pollo" (Italian for beer+chicken) and up came a few interesting recipes that did not involve stuffing tin up the derrier of fowl. I guess Italian men haven't picked up on that testosterone-laden trend yet. When reading through a few of those recipes, what I did notice was that some people complained in their comments that the sauce turned out more or less bitter. The general response was to use very light beer, no stout.

Out came my chicken thighs and herbs. In less than a half hour we had some tasty, extremely tender chicken for dinner. Was it bitter? Yes, a little, despite using an extremely light beer. The chicken however was not. Also, if I remember correctly, alcohol free beer always tasted a little bitter to me. But if anyone has other suggestions on how to get rid of the bitter aftertaste, I am happy to hear them. Next time I plan to keep the sauce a little saucier and to have some crusty bread on hand. Because there will be a next time.

6 skinless chicken thighs
1 bottle/can of light beer
3 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
 fresh rosemary
olive oil

Lightly coat the ckicken thighs with flour. Heat some olive oil in a large pot with a fitting lid. Brown the chicken on all sides, sprinkle with salt, add the garlic and herbs. Then pour in the beer and cover. Cook on medium-low heat for about 25 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through.


  1. That's one yummy looking pan of chicken! MMM with the rosemary!
    There's nothing like a trans-atlantic move to get a jump start on the spring cleaning! Purging "stuff" is so therapeutic!

  2. Delicious looking chicken there and I love beer and meat together! :D I just realised that I missed the whole Spring cleaning thing! I usually do one every year but this year is a mental blank!

  3. I have never had this although I have heard men brag about their beer chicken (on the grill); so I am just glad you came up with a recipe (much easier) on the stove!

  4. Nicole - despite how unphotogenic chicken thighs are to photograph, I am glad the goodness still showed through.
    Lorraine - if you missed it, I am sure your hidden corners are looking better than mine are!
    ToB - certainly a much easier option. But I do intend to try the beer can thing in the oven.

  5. This look fabulous! I am always looking for new twists for chicken!

  6. This looks amazing. I've used beer with pork and beef but never chicken. This sounds really interesting. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  7. I have never cooked with beer!!! Shame on me... this chicken looks so moist and tender! I wouldn't mind a little beer/bitter aftertaste, it looks delicious! Dai che e' venerdi' e la piccola sta per tornare!!!! :-) Un abbraccio!

  8. absolutely divine! love cooking with beer and the chicken looks so moist and juicy, perfect creation. New to your blog! Its great! Following you now!

  9. That is a very good idea on what to do with alcohol free beer. I probably would have tasted it and then tossed it away. I often cook with beer and yes, light lagers often leave a bitter aftertaste, while other types of beer don't, so it's probably the beer's fault.
    Have you ever made crepes or pancakes with beer? It works really well, because of the bubbles, and I've never noticed any bitterness in there.

  10. I think this sounds great! I don't think I've ever cooked chicken in beer before.

  11. Andrea - it really makes the meat moist and tender.
    Mary - pork and beef? Never heard of cooking beer with them, must try.
    Manu - la piccola è tornata ed è stato bellissimo riabbracciarla!
    KB - hi, so nice to meet you! Just went over to check out your blog and see I have a lot of catching up to do! Your son is adorable.
    Caffettiera rosa - what beer would you suggest? I read in the comments they do not advise darker beers. I have never made pancakes with beer but had heard of it, thanks for reminding me!
    Emily - neither had I, but really glad I did.

  12. Mmmm, nice and rustic looking! Love chicken thighs!!! At least the chicken wasn't bitter!

  13. This chicken dish looks great! I like how you combine beer and various herbs.
    I like to use beer to cook duck. It makes the duck meat so tender and juice. Check out my Chinese beer duck dish if you are the mood for another beer dish again :)


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