If you’re looking to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the kitchen (without dyeing your food/drink green), then why not cook with Guinness, the most Irish of all beers? Adding alcohol like wine, sherry, and port, to dishes is fairly common and cooking with a rich stout like Guinness is not much different — you just need to know the right way to use it.
Sabrina Sexton, a culinary instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, says that, “like any beer, it can be used in a variety of ways, but because of its distinct flavors, it works best with other strong flavors as its intensity tends to overwhelm more subtle ones.” Made with malted barley, Guinness has a noticeable ‘toasted’ quality and a slight bitter finish, which is one of the reasons that it pairs well with nutty Alpine cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano. This quality also makes it pair well with strong and salty flavors like ham, beef, lamb, and game meats.
Guinness can be used in a multitude of ways: as a braising liquid, in sauces or stews, or in marinades to add flavor and tenderize the meat. It can also act as a mild levener in breads or other baked goods like this Guinness Cake recipe. Sexton loves using it in a basting liquid or glaze (particularly as a ham glaze), but it also works well for steaming shellfish like shrimp, crabs, or clams.
To balance out the bitterness, she recommends pairing it with sweet things, even in a savory dish (if the bitterness is too pronounced, a small addition of something sweet usually balances it nicely). In particular, ingredients like chocolate, caramel, maple syrup, cream, ginger, and other warm spices. Fruits like apples and pears and root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and rutabaga also pair nicely with Guinness because of their sweet-earthy taste.
For inspiration, we’ve collected nine recipes that use Guinness in different ways to help you celebrate this Irish holiday in a less green-centric way.
Wade Murphy, chef at The Lodge at Donnbeg, in County Clare, Ireland, makes this modern interpretation of traditional meat and potatoes using Guinness as a braising liquid.
In this recipe, Guinness is used to deglaze the pot while scraping up the delicious brown bits on the bottom.
Beer-braised brisket works wonderfully in this deliciously messy sandwich.
This easy recipe uses Guinness for its pleasant pairing with earthy mushrooms.
Sexton says that sometimes, in long-cooking dishes, Guinness' flavor can diminish overtime. If this is a problem, a small splash of it at the end of the cooking will help liven up the flavor.
Guinness is cleverly used as a glaze for the rich, salty cookies.
A fun way to use Guinness in this adult-version of a root beer float.
A variation on fruitcake that uses Guinness instead of whiskey, rum, or brandy.