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Fall Comfort Foods to Pair with Brews

Fall Comfort Foods to Pair with Brews

Everyone loves comfort foods, and this piece hopes to express a few comfort food recipes along with corresponding beer pairings for the fall season.

Being from the Midwest, fall has always been one of those special times of the year for me. With those sometimes-subtle shifts in the air, coupled with signs of nature packing it in for the winter, we almost begin an instinctual animalistic draw to prepare for the colder months ahead. As traditions the world over predict, we gather the last of what the land gives us, preserving what we can while nature gives us permission to indulge in the rest.

Fall has a smell, taste and texture all its own. It’s the seasonal similarity to walking into a kitchen after a long day and having your senses overwhelmed with fragrant aromas. In these times of uncertainty, many of us are seeking stress relief in many forms, and there may be no better way than with the comfort foods fall is known for.

Beer is not only a key part of traditional fall celebrations but also a perfect accompaniment to the bold and rich ingredients often found in comfort foods. Whether you are complementing or contrasting a dish, the beer carries along with it all the needed components to highlight ingredients. More on pairing beer with food can be found here.

Though many meals hold a special place in our memories, below are a few go-to fall comfort foods to pair with brews that will warm you from the inside out. 


comfort foods of grilled cheese and tomato soup with beer

Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Source: Simply Delicious

There are few childhood-inducing comfort meals than a toasted grilled cheese and a warming bowl of tomato soup. It’s a simple dish that many of us were introduced to with canned tomato soup paired with butter-slathered white bread and American cheese.

Today we can take this simple meal to another level by combining it with the warming goodness of beer. For a dish with both fat from the butter and cheese and acidity from the tomatoes, I would go with an IPA similar to Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero IPA.

Ingredients

Tomato Soup

  • 1½ kg (3lbs) Tomatoes – use ripe, in-season tomatoes or replace with whole canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 8 cups vegetable/chicken stock
  • ½ cup cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • fresh basil leaves as garnish

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

  • 2 slices artisan bread
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 2 cups grated mature cheddar
  • Butter

Instructions

For the soup: Preheat the oven to 200°c. Place the tomatoes (if using canned tomatoes, add all the juices as well) in a roasting tray and add the Balsamic, olive oil, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the tomatoes are broken down and have started to caramelize. In a large pot, sautée the onions in some olive oil until they are translucent and fragrant. Add the garlic and basil and fry for another minute. Add the roasted tomatoes and sugar. Stir to combine all the ingredients and pour in the stock. Lower the heat and cover the pot. Allow simmering for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and blend the soup. Add the cream and season to taste.

For the sandwich: Mix the mozzarella with the cheddar. Add ½ cup cheese to half of the slices of bread. Sandwich with the remaining bread. Butter both sides generously. Cook in a non-stick pan, over medium heat until the cheese is melted and the sandwiches are golden brown on both sides. Serve the tomato soup with a swirl of cream and fresh basil leaves with the grilled cheese.


comfort foods inviting bowl of beef stew

Beef Stew
Source: Delish.com

Beef Stew is a simple, one-pot, slow-cooking meal that employs cheap and easy ingredients with layering and marrying flavors that only improve the longer it simmers. The caramelization of the meat creates a richness that permeates the entire dish with savory umami, which is complemented by the coffee and chocolate notes from roasted malts in an American Porter like Great Lakes Brewing’s Edmund Fitzgerald.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 lbs beef chuck stew meat, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped w/ Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

Instructions

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add beef and cook until seared on all sides for 10 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Transfer beef to a plate. In the same pot, cook onion, carrots and celery until soft for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook until garlic is fragrant and tomato paste has darkened for 2 minutes. Add beef back to the Dutch oven then add broth, wine, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer until beef is tender for 30 minutes. Add potatoes and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in peas and cook until warmed through for 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.


comfort foods bowl of chili in sunlight

Beef Chili
Source: Food & Wine

Beans or no beans, meat or vegan, spicy or mild, there are a million ways to make chili. The only right way is how you like it. A simple dish that is filling, warming and nearly impossible to get wrong. Being that I prefer mine on the “slap-your-tastebuds” heat scale, I also generally prefer to pair mine with a lighter, but still hearty, beer such as the classic Anchor Steam Beer from Anchor Brewing.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
  • 1 cup chopped poblano chile (from 1 chile)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced 3 pounds
  • 90/10 lean ground chuck
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup ancho chile powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer
  • shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeño chiles, sliced radishes, and sour cream, for serving

Instructions

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion, poblano and garlic then cook, stirring often until tender for about 5 minutes. Add ground chuck then cook, stirring occasionally, until beef crumbles and is no longer pink for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain beef mixture well and return to Dutch oven over medium-high. Add tomato paste, ancho chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano then cook, stirring often for 2 minutes. Increase heat to high. Stir in beans, tomatoes, chicken broth and beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until heated through for about 30 minutes. Serve chili with desired toppings.


There you have it! These hearty fall comfort foods would serve as a great harvest feast to celebrate cooler temperatures, as well as the arrival of fall seasonal beers. So gather up your close friends and family (socially distanced of course), and enjoy these fall comfort foods with some high-quality suds.

Header Image Courtesy of Flickr/Allagash Brewing Co.