For festive occasions like the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day or another special event, the National Beer Wholesalers Association in Alexandria, Va., offers two new recipes that fully highlight the flavor of beer.

The cold winter months were made for entertaining –– when damp and dreary weather makes warming smells from the oven even more inviting.  

For festive occasions like the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day or another special event, you may want to look at beer as a source of deep flavors. With more than 13,000 different labels of beer available, there is one to complement every dish with nutty, fruity, smoky or even sweet accents. 

The National Beer Wholesalers Association in Alexandria, Va., offers two new recipes that fully highlight the flavor of beer.

Roast Lemon-Ale Chicken is an unusual way to present a whole chicken, which is still one of the most economical ways to buy poultry. The whole chicken is “butterflied,” which means the backbone is cut out so that the two sides of the chicken (a breast, wing, drumstick and thigh on each side) can be opened up and flattened before cooking. But this recipe works equally well when the whole chicken is cooked intact, according to the same directions.

A perfect dessert is Chocolate Stout Red Velvet Cake, an easy-to-make, two-layer cake that is as pretty as it is tasty. The chocolate stout adds chocolate flavor to the cake. Cold chocolate stout or raspberry lambic beer is delicious when served with the cake.

Roast Lemon-Ale Chicken

 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), butterflied (see note)

4 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

4 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon salt, divided

½ teaspoon black pepper, divided

½ teaspoon sugar, divided

2 bottles brown ale beer (12 ounces each)

¼ cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped parsley 

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel and place in heavy roasting pan. Starting at breast, gently slide fingers between skin and flesh of the breast to loosen, being careful not to tear. Starting at side of thighs, loosen skin on thighs and drumsticks.

In small bowl, make a flavorful rub: mix together butter, lemon zest, thyme, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, sugar and pepper. Rub half of butter mixture under the loosened skin and spread the remaining on top of the skin.

Pour one bottle of the brown ale beer into the roasting pan. Add lemon juice and thyme sprigs. Place in middle of hot oven and roast until skin is golden brown and the thigh meat registers 170-175 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 50 minutes. Add the remaining bottle of beer to the roasting pan after 30 minutes. When done, transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 15 minutes while finishing pan sauce.

To make the pan sauce, pour liquid from the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Skim off and discard any fat from top of the liquid. Place on stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Simmer 4-5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in parsley. Season with remaining salt. Carve chicken and serve with pan sauce.

To butterfly chicken: Place chicken on cutting board, breast side down. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, cut down one side of the backbone, staying as close to bone as possible. Cut along other side of backbone and remove it. Press chicken open like a book, and flip it over so that it is skin-side up.

Serve with baked potatoes or brown rice and a green salad or vegetables for a complete meal. Pour a glass of the same brown ale beer or a favorite lager to enhance the moist flavor of the chicken.

Nutrition information, per serving: 700 calories; 41 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram sugars; 60 grams protein

-- National Beer Wholesalers Association

Chocolate Stout Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 (1-ounce) bottle liquid red food coloring

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate stout beer

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cider or white distilled vinegar

Cream cheese frosting:

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with waxed or parchment paper; coat with non-stick baking spray.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low, beat in food coloring and vanilla until blended. Alternately beat in flour mixture and chocolate stout beer, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Dissolve baking soda in the vinegar and stir thoroughly into the batter. Pour batter into pans and spread evenly.

Place in hot oven and bake 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then un-mold and turn onto wire racks. Remove paper. Turn layers right-side up and let cool completely.

Make frosting by combining in large bowl the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until no lumps remain and frosting is spreadable. Place cake on serving platter and frost both layers.

Finished cake can be refrigerated, covered, up to two days before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information, per serving: 560 calories; 23 grams fat; 14 grams saturated fat; 83 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 63 grams sugars; 5 grams protein

-- National Beer Wholesalers Association