It’s the draft that kicks off the game and the brewskie that brings the braai and boerewors together. However this South African treasure is more than just a drink for Chef Luke Dale-Roberts, as he takes beer from the braai into the boiler.
Beer is good. How many times have I said that? Too many to count, I’m sure. Recently, however, I’ve discovered that beer is actually very good.
We’ve been using it increasingly at The Test Kitchen - my latest pitcher-perfect creation is beer-and-doenjang glazed lamb rack, for which we make a kind of lacquer out of dark beer and Korean miso paste. It’s fantastically malty and perfect for winter.
These simple, homely recipes use all sorts of beer and are just the thing for a lazy winter Sunday at home.
For a double whammy of brewed goodness, try the beer-braised lamb shank with a good dollop of the milk stout risotto. You’ll soon be snoring away contentedly on the couch.
THE SECRET LIFE OF BEER
Like wine, beer has its place in just about every cooking technique, from baking, braising and deglazing to macerating and marinating.
However, there are some basic rules of thumb to keep in mind when reaching for your next six pack …
• Beer is by nature bitter – it comes from the hops.
Sweet foods, therefore, profit from a marriage with this bitterness, so partner beer with vegetables, for instance, that are high in sugar (onions, carrots, corn), and even add a little honey or sugar itself when cooking.
Caramelised onions are a classic example of a sweet vegetable that is ideal with beer.
• The bitter hop flavour of beer also helps counteract the richness of creamy, oil-based or cheese dishes – use it sparingly in these dishes, though, as you would a squeeze of lemon or a glug of vinegar.
• Acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruit, vinegar and mustard complement the sweet flavour of malt-rich beers, adding balance and depth to the dish.
• The yeast in beer is perfectly suited to baking and battering. Breads, fritters and pancakes yield great results when made with very yeasty brews, which lighten the texture and make for tender, tasty crusts.
• The fermentation process produces tenderising enzymes that make beer ideal for marinades. Game marries well with beer, as does chicken and fish.
• The more the beer is cooked and reduced, the stronger its flavour will be. If the dish requires long cooking and reduction, avoid using too strong a brew, lest you end up overdoing it.
• Never cook with a beer that you wouldn’t drink. If it doesn’t appeal to you as a beverage, the chances are it wouldn’t appeal to you in a recipe.
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