Mexico has a long history of beer making. Spanish colonists tried their luck with beer making in the New World in the 16th century, but it was small scale production. Three hundred years later, German and Austrian settlers that arrived in Northern Mexico quickly realized that the climate was perfect for dry land farming of grain. At the end of the 19th century at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, all of the world’s commercial breweries were located in Germany, Austria or were in the process of being established in the U.S., so the founders of the Mexican commercial breweries saw an opportunity.
Beer is made by fermenting grain, and most beers are made with wheat, hops, barley and of course, water. Mexican beer makers use sorghum when making beer, as it grows easily and abundantly in Northern Mexico. Worldwide, sorghum in beer is mainly in Africa and Mexico. Sorghum gives Mexican beer its distinctive flavor and depth.
Even though Mexican beer and tequila are widely distributed throughout the republic, Northern Mexico is usually associated with beer, and Southern Mexico is associated with tequila. It makes sense that Northern Mexico’s alcoholic beverage of choice is beer rather than tequila, since most Mexican beer is manufactured in Northern Mexico, and the ingredients for beer are grown nearby. Tequila, which is the distillation of mescal, is derived from the agave plant which grows more easily (and therefore, commercially) in Southern Mexico. Both tequila and beer are prized throughout the Mexico, there seems to be a stronger loyalty to the beverages that are produced in one’s home region.
Personally, I love cooking with Mexican dark beer. The toasted grain added to the beer process gives definite caramel undertones to whatever you cook. Heavy meats such as beef and free range pork pair exceptionally with Mexican dark beer. If you are stewing chicken, go for a lighter, blond beer for best results.
Of course, your finished Mexican beer dish should be served with the same beer as a beverage. The alcohol of the beer will evaporate during the cooking process, leaving lots of flavor, but not the complete flavor. Pairing the cooked Mexican beer dish along with the same well chilled Mexican beer as a beverage will give you and your guests to experience every nuance of a great cerveza.
Pan Seared NY Strip with Cerveza Mushrooms Recipe
- Olive oil, about 2 tbls
- 1 NY Strip – 12 oz
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms – white or crimini
- ½ cup Mexican beer
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add the olive oil to an 8” skillet and heat on medium high heat for about 60 seconds. Add the uncooked steak, and allow to sear on 1 side for a minute and a half, and then flip to the other side. Lower the heat to a medium flame, and allow to cook for about 4 minutes. Flip again to the other side, and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, to your desired degree of doneness (about 8-10 minutes total for both sides for medium rare). Remove the steak to a clean plate.
Add the sliced mushrooms to the hot skillet, and cook for 2 minutes, until browned and all the pan juices have been absorbed. Raise the heat slightly, and add the beer. Stir, and allow to reduce for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over steak and serve immediately.