To those who regularly make an effort to pair beer with food, it is no secret that beer is the most versatile beverage on the planet in that respect. It has a wide range of texture and weight and it also has a broader flavor range than wine. Only in beer can you find true bitterness and sourness (although tannin and acidity in certain wines can come close). While I will concede that wine is certainly the victor when it comes to dishes with tomato-based sauces, beer will usually equal or best wine for most other pairings.
I love pairing my food with beer, but even more exciting than that is making my food with beer. With The Beer Wench and Sean Paxton as inspirations, I’ve been tooling around in the kitchen quite a bit lately and I’d like to share the ideas and recipes that work well for me. This week I’m bringing you Doppelbock Whipped Yams.
I am a Los Angeles native, and as long as I can remember, my family and I have been going to Greenblatt’s Deli on New Year’s Day. They have great deli food and it’s one of the only places open that day. Every time we go, I get the turkey dinner with whipped yams as a side. They spice the yams just right and the whipped texture works really well with this particular tuber.
I wanted to duplicate the dish at home but I wanted to add a little punch, so I decided to boil the yams in beer rather than plain ol’ water. But what beer to choose? Can’t go with anything too bitter since this is a sweeter dish and heat really brings out the bitterness. I wanted something that would marry naturally with the texture and flavor of the yams. Then the light bulb went on . . . Doppelbock!
I hustled over to BevMo and grabbed myself a sixer of Spaten Optimator. Malty, bready and a little chewy with some light toast character, I had a good feeling it would have what I was looking for. I’ve made and served the dish several times now (it was a hit at Christmas dinner) and it never disappoints, so without further ado:
- 2-3 lbs garnet yams, peeled and cut into two inch chunks
- 2 12oz bottles of Doppelbock (Optimator is my choice, but just make sure you pick one that hasn’t been “Americanized” with excessive hop character)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick of butter, room temperature
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 2-3 tsp nutmeg (depending on your tastes, personally, I freaking love nutmeg)
- 2 tsp cinnamon (you can use less, I also really like cinnamon)
- Salt to taste
Place your peeled and cut yams into a large pot and pour in both bottles of beer (you’ve probably got four left in the six-pack so treat yourself to one as well). If the beer doesn’t quite cover the yams, top off the pot with water until the yams are completely covered.
Place the pot, covered, over high heat and bring liquid to a boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes, or until yams are very soft. Drain liquid in a strainer and place drained yams back into pot.
Throw your butter in the pot and combine it with the yams by mashing with a potato ricer until yams are mostly smooth. Next, toss in your brown sugar and vanilla extract and combine well (a large spoon should suffice).
Add nutmeg and cinnamon and whip on high with an electric eggbeater. Once whipped, have yourself a little taste so you can figure out how much salt you want to add. I find the salt really serves to bring out the sweeter flavors nicely, and I’ll usually add about half a teaspoon of table salt. Whip in the salt and serve! This dish is a wonderful change from standard mashed potatoes and can accompany roast chicken, turkey or my personal favorite, bison brisket. Enjoy!