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Beer Isn't Just for Drinking

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Chef and mom Susannah Locketti puts the suds to work in two easy recipes for St. Patrick's Day.

green beer

I'll admit it: I'm not a beer drinker ... but I am a beer eater! I love the flavor that beer adds to food. It creates a certain smoky flavor in breads and a savory little bite in recipes requiring onions. (Onions and beer are great together -- the onions just soak up that flavor!) The next time you pick up beer, save one bottle or can to experiment with. Here, I've used it in a Jalapeno Beer Bread that is so easy to make in the bread machine. I've also used beer to flavor and glaze onions for an easy pork tenderloin dinner. Buy the tenderloin when it is on sale for under $4 per pound in the grocery store to keep the meal affordable.

Cheesy Jalapeño Beer Bread

¾ cup water
½ cup beer
2 cups bread flour
¾ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup shredded Jalapeño Cheddar Jack Cheese

Set your bread machine on "basic white bread" for a 1.5 lb loaf. (I like to use the dark-crust setting for this recipe.) Add the water and beer. Top evenly with flour, salt, paprika and sugar. Turn on the machine to make the bread. Add the cheese when your machine beeps to let you know you can add additional ingredients. (Most have this option built-in.) The bread is usually ready in under three hours. I make this bread first thing in the morning on a weekend while I do chores, and it is ready and hot by lunchtime. This bread is great with a turkey sandwich topped with avocado, red onion, lettuce and a dab of mayo.

Easy Pan Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Beer Onions

1 pound pork tenderloin trimmed of all fat
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and pepper
4 large onions, diced
½ cup beer
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (optional)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. While the oil heats, slice the tenderloin into ½" thick slices and season with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides until cooked through. Remove and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and, when hot, add the onions and season again with salt and pepper. Continue to cook the onions until they soften and brown, stirring often. Add the beer and switch the heat to high. When the beer starts to reduce, add the brown sugar and stir until the mixture thickens slightly. Turn off the heat, add the sage, stir and serve with the tenderloin.

next: Crazy St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
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