Although this recipe can certainly be made as a vegan or vegetarian dish, it is a wonderful way to use pan drippings from searing a steak such as this sandwich steak, these venison chops or a large porterhouse steak. The entire dish takes less than 5 minutes once your dish is screeching hot (and if you’re searing a steak, it should already be hot). I usually cook these while our protein is resting.
There are a few tricks to ensuring awesome onions/ mushrooms when cooking like this:
- Use a heavy sauce/fry pan. The heavier it is, the more heat it will retain. This is important for frying especially when you add beer which can cool the pot. I use a cast iron frying pan.
- Cut the vegetables in large pieces. Smaller pieces will burn. Bigger is better.
- A little bit of char is good. To add a little char, broil your vegetables in the pan for 3-4 minutes (I do this at the same time I broil the steak; just toss them on top).
- Too much char is just burned. Stir often.
- Don’t add all the beer at once; the goal isn’t to boil a bunch of beer and make a reduced soup. Adding a little bit at a time will keep your heat high while also reducing it fast.
- Do not use olive oil; it will burn. My preference is to use lard.
- When it comes to onions, do not cut rings (this is important). If you cut rings, the onion will fall apart and become soft/ mushy (good for stew but not for this dish where we hope to make onions the star ingredient). By cutting them lengthwise they will keep more of their texture and stay together.
- This recipe can easily be adapted to the BBQ (when you add the beer close the lid immediately which will trap steam and increase the temperature) though some BBQ’s struggle to get the grill hot enough to steam the beer on contact (use the hottest part of your grill).
Beer-fried Onions (Ingredients)
- Onions, cut lengthwise (not in rings). I like to make my slices big; 0.3 – 0.5 inches (1 cm) across). I tend to cut them in long lengths – often the length of the onion.
- If using mushrooms, I cut them in half or quarters if they are big. This also works with peppers and other vegetables.
- Vegetable oil or lard (my preference)
- Beer of your choice (dark or bitter are my favorites)
- Salt, pepper to taste.
- Chili flakes are optional.
- Optional: cider vinegar or lemon. I love this addition.
- Optional: fresh herbs such as thyme or chives.
Beer-fried Onions (Directions)
- Make sure to cut your onions/ mushrooms and toss with salt, pepper and chili flakes (if using) before starting – once everything is hot you’ll have to act fast so being ready is essential. If you’re using oil (as opposed to lard), toss it with these ingredients first and don’t worry about adding to the pan.
- Heat a heavy skillet to super hot on maximum. If you’re cooking a steak like I do it will be this hot the moment you take the steak out to rest and you
- If using lard, place about a tablespoon into the pan. It will melt almost immediately – the moment it’s melted jump onto the next step.
- Dump the veggies into the pan, stir frequently for 1 minute. If small bits are sticking (or still stuck from your protein), don’t be phased – the beer will pull them off.
- Add about a tablespoon of beer (be careful with the steam). Continue to stir. Once it’s almost completely gone (which should take 30-60 seconds), repeat.
- Repeat step 5 until the onions (and/or mushrooms) are cooked to the texture you want. This can take about 5 minutes (which is why we cut the veggies big). I use about a half can of beer and pour a little extra at the end which I reduce into a tiny bit of sauce.
- If using the acid (cider/ vinegar or lemon), add a teaspoon at a time at the end, adjust salt, pepper and chile and stop when you like the taste (generally this is 1-3 teaspoons).
- Add fresh herbs after removing the onions from the pan.
One of the benefits of cooking with beer is that you have a natural pairing already figured out!