As I work for a company that owns two award winning breweries inevitably I get to cook with beer, and drink the odd pint as well ( any time you want to send some promos over to taste guys ). I’m going to post links to three great recipes made with the amazing Liberation Ale*. Now you don’t have to be afraid to cook with beer, in Belgium they have made an art of using beer much as the French would use wine. Many American recipes include beer, especially as they have under gone somewhat of a renaissance in brewing with many new craft and artisan breweries.
As a marinade for meat, fish or seafood, beer penetrates, flavours and tenderizes, it less acidic than wine so the food can be left in the marinade longer increasing the flavour. In roasting or braising beer used to baste the foods or as an ingredient in the basting sauce imparts a rich, dark colour as the sugar caramelise.
Matching Beer and Food
Beer is often thought of as a poor relation to wine but is a complex drink made with up to twelve main ingredients, without including many additional aromatics. This leads to an incredible range, with around one hundred and thirty different styles of beer available to cook with and match with food. So how do you pair food and beer? As with choosing a suitable wine, you should try to complement with, contrast or cut through the food flavours. Complementing matches similar flavours like the slightly sour, dark crust of a pizza can be complemented by the traditional toasted malt flavours of a Pilsner style lager. Pilsners also complement spicier foods and drink well with Mexican style salsas.
Porters are dark brown in colour, sometimes almost black in the heavier roasted versions, their depth of rich flavour, medium body and lower level of bitterness mean they are a perfect match for grilled and barbecued food ( be it burgers, steaks, chicken, any kebabs or even seafood) will pair perfectly with a porter where the roasted notes in the beer really match up with any charred and caramelised flavours produced when cooking. If you want to try contrasting the food and beer flavours try a really good quality dark chocolate with a glass of Belgium cherry or raspberry Kriek, lambic beers originally brewed by monks.
The last way to pair beer is cutting, in which the carbonation levels of the beer, can lift flavours and cut through rich creamy dishes, try a really hoppy English style IPA with a chicken korma. As the choice at first might feel a little confusing it really is down to your own palate treat blonde/golden beers and lagers as you would white wines and the darker, stronger bitters and porters as reds.
*Other great ales are available like Adnams, Gales and Timothy Taylors if you are happy to drink it you can cook with it.
Three Great Liberation Ale Recipes
Bisque is a term usually applied to creamy shellfish or roasted vegetable soups, where the main ingredients are first roasted and coloured then simmered to form a stock – the soup is therefore twice cooked or ‘ bis cuites ’. This soup is a little bit of a cheat as its ingredients are only cooked once but it sounds too nice a name to seriously quibble. You can substitute a well rounded not too dark beer for the Liberation Ale.
Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer is a full flavoured spiced version of steamed mussels. Liberation Ale replaces the more common wine normally associated with mussels. The shallots and tomato concassé add a little sweetness and the dish is finished with fresh coriander
This pie is made with Liberation Ale and shin, an inexpensive cut of meat, which is big on flavour, and is full of gelatinous sinew which cooks down to make the most excellent gravy. It is easy to stew and it really lends itself to batch cooking in the pressure cooker and freezing down until required. You can adapt the recipe further sautéd kidneys or if you are feeling indulgent a dozen oysters just before you finish cooking.