Looking for beer-friendly fare to heat up your patio dining and bar food menus? Consider these inspired updates of casual classics. Ideas range from Alaska Crab and Zucchini Quesadillas to Korean BBQ Duck Tacos, both offering a taste of luxury, to refreshing combos like Lemon Citrus Swai Fish Tacos and Baja Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa. Tempt chicken fans with the Chicken and Avocado Quesadillas; meat-lovers will appreciate the luxury of bourbon chili made with premium small-batch bourbon and boneless beef short ribs.
Korean BBQ Duck Tacos
From: Chef Greg Reggio, Taste Buds Management, New Orleans, LA.
Yield: 6 servings.
½ cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
½ tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ cup molasses
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. fresh garlic
1 serrano pepper, whole
Pepper Jelly Dressing:
¼ cup Tabasco Red Pepper Jelly
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup olive oil
Korean BBQ Duck:
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 lb. pulled duck meat
½ cup kimchi, chopped ¼”
1 cup green cabbage, chopped ¼”
1 cup cucumber, diced ¼”
¼ cup chopped green onions, white and green
¼ cup cilantro leaves, rough chopped
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
¼ cup pepper jelly dressing
6 6” flour tortillas
as needed, leaf lettuce
as needed, Korean BBQ meat
as needed, kim chi slaw
For BBQ sauce: Combine all ingredients and blend in a food processor until well-blended.
For pepper jelly: Combine all ingredients.
For Korean BBQ Duck:
Combine soy sauce, BBQ sauce, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds into a mixing bowl and whisk until all ingredients are incorporated. Pull apart any large chunks of duck meat. The target size of the chunks should be no more than 1” wide by 2” to 3” long. Add the duck meat to the mixing bowl. Toss to coat each piece of duck meat. Add duck to preheated skillet and allow to cook until duck meat is hot and slightly caramelized.
For kimchi slaw: Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
For tacos: Heat tortillas. Place lettuce leaf on tortilla. Place Korean BBQ duck meat on lettuce. Garnish with kimchi slaw.
PHOTO: Maple Leaf Farms
From: Chef/owner Tim Love, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Ft. Worth, TX. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
2 pieces dried ancho chiles
1 piece dried pasilla chile
2 pieces dried guajillo chiles
2 pieces dried chipotle chiles
1 cup Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lb. boneless beef short ribs
3 cups onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. dried thyme
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup masa harina, if desired
to taste, salt and pepper
as desired, additional Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
Toast chiles in a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly charred and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and pour over the chiles. Weight down the chiles in the water and submerge with a paper towel. Allow chiles to soften for about 20 minutes in the hot water. Drain chiles once they are soft, reserving the soaking liquid. If you prefer your chili to be spicy, remove only the stem of the chiles, leaving seeds intact. If you prefer a milder chili, take the time to open up the softened chile peppers and remove seeds before adding peppers to the blender.
Add the softened chili peppers to the blender with 1 cup of Maker’s Mark® Bourbon. Puree until smooth.
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over high heat. Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel and season them generously with salt and black pepper. Add oil to the hot pan. Reduce heat to medium high. Sear short ribs on all sides until well-browned, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove the short ribs to a plate and pour off the browning liquid and fat into a small bowl. Return the pan to heat.
Add chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
Add the cumin, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, vinegar, browning liquid, chili water and chili puree to the pot. Season with a heavy pinch of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours, turning the ribs every 30 minutes and adding water as necessary if the braise becomes too dry.
Once short ribs can break apart with a spoon, remove ribs from stew and break the short ribs apart into small chunks, using two spoons or forks.
Chili braise in the pot should be the consistency of a thick soup. Reduce over low heat, if necessary, or add more water to reach desired consistency. Skim any excess fat and oil from the surface of the chili and discard. Stir the pieces of short rib back into the chili braise. Add an extra splash of Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, if desired.
Thicken stew with masa harina (fine cornmeal makes a great substitute), if desired. Ladle 2 cups of chili into a bowl and stir in the masa harina. Return mixture to the pot and stir in with the rest of the chili. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve the chili hot, garnished with chopped scallions, cilantro and/or sour cream.
Photo: Marker's Mark Bourbon
Yield: 12 tacos
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 jalapeno or banana pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, coarsely ground
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 4-oz. Lemon Citrus Swai Fillets, cut into 1” cubes (2 oz. Swai per taco)
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
12 corn tortillas
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in sauté pan. Sauté vegetables and spices over medium heat for 4 minutes. Remove vegetables from the pan and reserve. Add remaining olive oil to sauté pan. Place fish in sauté pan and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove and cut into pieces/strips. Add vegetables back to the pan with fish. In a straight-sided sauté pan, add peanut oil and heat until approximately 350°F. Add tortillas one at a time and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately upon removing each tortilla from the hot oil, place over a rolling pin to form a curved shape. Serve with toppings and cheese.
PHOTO: Clear Springs Foods
From: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Border Grill.
Yield: 6 servings
1 ½ cups cooked, shredded wild Alaska snow or king crab meat
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup finely diced red onion
2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini or roughly torn squash blossoms
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups grated Mexican manchego or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated panela cheese (may substitute ricotta or a mild feta)
½ cup grated cotija or añejo cheese (may substitute a salty, hard cheese like Parmesan)
6 8” to 10” flour tortillas
for serving, salsa
Squeeze excess moisture out of crab meat and toss with lime juice. Set aside.
Melt 3 Tbsp. of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook the onions and jalapenos until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the zucchini or squash blossoms, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini or squash blossoms have just turned soft, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Toss with crab mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine the three cheeses. Lay the tortillas out on a counter. Divide the cheese mixture into 6 portions and arrange one portion over half of each tortilla. Divide the crab and zucchini mixture into 6 portions and sprinkle evenly over the cheese. Fold over each tortilla to enclose the filling.
Melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Place a cast-iron griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. Brush one side of a quesadilla with melted butter and place buttered side down in the pan. Cook until very light golden, about 1 minute. Then, brush the uncoated side with butter and flip over. Cook until the other side is golden and transfer to a baking sheet. When all the quesadillas are browned, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese begins to ooze. Serve hot, whole or cut into wedges, accompanied by your favorite salsa.
PHOTO: Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
Yield: 12 tacos
3 large ripe mangos, chopped
½ cup minced red bell pepper
1½ Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1½ Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, sliced (green tops only)
1 medium jalapeno pepper, stem, seeds and membrane removed
1½ lb. cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1½ tsp. chili powder
¾ tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. garlic salt
12 corn tortillas, warmed
3 cups shredded green or red cabbage
¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese
Stir together mango, bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, onion and jalapeno in a medium bowl; set aside.
Place cod on 2 large sheets of parchment paper. Stir together dry seasonings in a small bowl and sprinkle over cod. Bring edges of parchment paper together and fold twice. Fold ends under to enclose fish. Place packets on a baking sheet and bake at 425°F for 15 to 18 minutes.
Open packets carefully to let steam escape. Place equal amounts of cod in each tortilla. Divide salsa and place on top of cod.
PHOTO: National Mango Board
Yield: 100 servings
1 cup lime or lemon juice
¼ cup ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
8 lb. cooked diced chicken
20 (about 10 lb.) fully ripened Mexican avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
100 flour tortillas (7” to 8” each)
1 lb., 8 oz. shredded Pepper Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Pit, peel and cut avocado in 1” cubes (makes about 7.5 lb.). In a bowl, combine lime juice, ½ cup water, salt and cumin. Add chicken and avocado; toss gently.
On baking sheets, lay tortillas in a single layer. Spoon chicken and avocado mixture on one side of each tortilla, dividing evenly; top with cheese. Fold tortillas in half to cover filing; press down gently. Bake until tortillas are crisp and golden around the edges, about 8 minutes. If desired, serve with salsa or sour cream.
PHOTO: Avocados From Mexico