Why Curtis Stone Adds Beer To His Salad Dressing

A bit of beer can do wonders for your cooking, whether it's bringing a touch of earthy bitterness to your pot of chili or upping the richness of your braising liquid. In fact, beer even has a place in baking, imparting a malty note to a dense chocolate cake and other baked goods. But how do you feel about adding beer to salad? 

Well, Curtis Stone suggests you do just that. According to the celebrity chef, a spoonful or so of beer can be the perfect final touch for a zingy vinaigrette. Packing plenty of acidity and earthy flavor, beer can work like a bit of infused vinegar in your dressing. Stone's example refers to using a tart rye ale to punctuate a vinaigrette for an apple and frisée salad with rye croutons. But this trick is flexible enough to include a number of other beers and salad recipes. So where should you start? 

Topping of your salad dressing with a bit of ale

First, consider what kind of vinaigrette you want to make. If you'd like to whip up a citrus-forward dressing, consider using a pale ale, which has plenty of acidity, or a Saison, which already has bright citrus notes of its own. If the vinaigrette has a more spicy flavor profile (like one that uses plenty of mustard), use a honey wheat beer to balance it out. Or, you can stick with Stone's original suggestion and make a tangy vinaigrette with a dash of rye ale. Plain light beer will work, too, if you'd like to keep things on the milder side. 

Once you know what beer you want to work with, you can begin the vinaigrette. When measuring beer, keep in mind it's best to measure it after the bubbles have subsided, as that excess carbonation won't bring anything to the dressing. Some recipes call for a beer reduction, where the beer is cooked down into a concentrated liquid, but you can use plain beer too. For a typical vinaigrette, about ¼ cup of beer is used for just over a half cup of dressing, with ⅓ cup of olive oil making up the bulk of it and additions like vinegar, mustard, salt, and honey working as the seasoning.  

Taking this hack a bit further, imagine what a bit of bright, fruity hard cider could bring to your vinaigrettes. Either way, beer vinaigrette is your next salad secret to impress.