The only thing better than a great beer is eating the perfect food for that particular brew. Enter Beer Bites, a cookbook companion for your craft beer cravings by the dream team of cookbook author Andrea Slonecker and writer/brewer Christian DeBenedetti. Beyond your typical pub grub is enlightened fare for people who love good beer, and duck carnitas nachos definitely qualifies. 

In this game-changing rendition of a brewpub staple, duck legs, rather than the typical pork shoulder, are given the carnitas treatment. The duck is braised with orange peel in malty Mexican beer (a Vienna lager style, technically speaking) until tender, then the cooking liquid is reduced until almost nothing is left but the rendered fat used to fry the moist duck meat.

The real art of nachos is in the assembly. We like to put them on a large rimmed baking sheet in two layers so that every single chip gets coated in the toppings. This makes for one wickedly large pile of nachos to share with friends — wow them on game day with this decadent upgrade.

For the beer pairing, Vienna lager — on the malty end of the light and crisp beer spectrum — makes a smooth companion for any plate of nachos. Especially, we’d say, ones that feature stewed meat; in the best versions of these beers, bitterness and sweetness are in balance, with delicate hopping levels that are ideal for savory, spicy flavors. An obvious choice is Negra Modelo, but if you can find a craft brewed (albeit slightly heavier) version of Vienna lager, such as Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Great Lakes Eliot Ness, go for it. The nachos will abide.

Our recommended brews: Samuel Adams Boston Lager (Boston Beer Company); Negra Modelo (Grupo Modelo; Eliot Ness (Great Lakes); Lincoln Park Lager (Goose Island); Special Amber (Sprecher).

Reprinted with permission from Beer Bites