Beer and Cheese Bisque – Cooking with Beer

When you work for a brewery ( a big shout out to everyone at the Liberation Brewery, Jersey ) you had better not be afraid to try cooking with beer. In Belgium, cooking with beer is as common as the French cook with wine. I think almost all of the pubs I have cooked in included deep-fried cod or haddock in a beer batter or a steak and ale pie on their menus. Although to this date only one used custard powder in the batter recipe but that as they say is another story. More recently gastropubs and bistros have started cooking with beer and include dishes such as diverse as beer bread, beer ice cream and beer can chicken. For virtually any recipe that calls for a liquid of any sort, you can substitute beer.

As a marinade for meat or poultry, beer penetrates, flavours and tenderizes. Good beer is less acidic than wine so your food can be left in your marinade longer increasing the flavour. When you are roasting or braising and beer is used to baste the food or in the basting sauce, it imparts a rich, dark colour as the sugars caramelise. So, cooking with beer is great for adding flavour to BBQ’s and slow cooked casseroles and stews.

What can I cook with Beer?

In batter, a live ( not pasteurised ) beer can be substituted for yeast and water. The result is a crisp flavoursome coating for deep-fried fish such as cod, haddock, salmon, and squid. Beer is also delicious with shellfish like Mussels, cooking with it, instead of wine. I even developed a recipe in my day job to use with Oysters. Finally, beer and cheese are perfect companions. The famous Welsh Rarebit is the classic dish of cheese, beer and Worcestershire sauce combined together on toast. Today’s recipe is another great beer and cheese combination if a little unexpected. Beer and Cheese Bisque and it is really rather delicious.

How do I use Beer?

As with wine when you boil and reduce beer you will increase some of the flavours and lose others. You will also evaporate off all of the alcohol. If you are using beer as a substitute for stock remember reducing a strong, intensely hoppy beer will leave a bitter residue. A sweetish mild or stout with little hopping will produce a fine gravy in a pie or stew. A top tip when you are cooking is to reserve a little beer and add it when the cooking is finished. This will lift and enhance the beer flavours of your dish. A final note like wine never cook with a beer you would not drink.

Some Recipe and Beer Pairings

 

Light Larger style Beers are ideal for batters as the carbonation produces a light, airy result and the sugars caramelise to a deep golden colour.

IPA Indian Pale Ales the extra hopping makes for an ideal medium for cooking mussels and seafood.

Traditional Ales – use in bread, pies, and stews, the Belgium classic Carbonnade  Flamande is very similar to a Beef Bourguignon with beer substituted for wine.

Stouts and Porters – are used in rich flavoured mustards and steamed steak and oyster pudding with Guinness.

Wheat Beer traditionally used in Waterzooi, a fish stew from the Flanders region of Belgium thickened with egg yolks and cream and the favourite of Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, born in Ghent. Wheat Beer is also ideal for batter mixes.

Speciality Beers – fruity lambic beers in chocolate cakes and puddings and raspberry or sour cherry Kriek beers with roast duck and fowl.

Liberation beers are wildly available as are many other great beers like Fullers, Adnams and some wonderful microbrewery ales. I’m not even getting any freebies from anyone.  Next time I see the boys from the brewery I might try for a pint.

 

Beer and Cheese Bisque
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.

Classic Beef and Ale Pie – British Food Fortnight

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Summer seems to have come to a chilly, wet and blustery end and it is time for an overhaul of the summer salads and barbecues and start to cook some of my favourite foods, warming soups, hearty stews and casseroles, and traditional pies and puddings. As we shift into Autumn if you are a bit of a foodie you will know it is also time to celebrate National Cask Ale Week* and to promote British Food Fortnight, and if you follow this blog you will also know how I feel about some of the more obscure food promotions but as my day job is working for a brewery pub chain this is an ideal opportunity for me to promote two great passions, classic British pub food accompanied with a pint or two and what can be more suitable than a traditional Beef and Ale pie, a real pub favourite.

 

Braised Beef and Ale Pie
Beef and Ale Pie

Pies date back to pre-Egyptian history, early pies were flat, round crusty cakes called ‘galettes’ containing honey, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses I, located in the Valley of the Kings. The Roman cookbook Apicius has several recipes which involve a pie case, with a sweet filling, more like a modern-day cheesecake on a pastry base, which more often than not were used as an offering to the gods.

Medieval pies could be easily cooked over an open fire, the earliest pie-like recipes refer to coffyns ( meaning basket or box), with straight sealed sides and a top. The pastry was an effective airtight seal and used to prolong the life of expensive meat and was a handy carrying case when traveling on horseback.

Pies remained as a staple of traveling and working peoples in the colder northern European countries, with regional variations the locally available meats. The Cornish pasty is an excellent adaptation of the pie to a working man’s daily food needs.

 *Most of my recipes now include a beer and a wine choice to match the dish.

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More Great British Recipes

Classic Beer Battered Fish and Chips

The Best Ever Bramley Apple Crumble

Perfect Yorkshire Puddings

Shepherd’s Pie

 

Braised Beef and Ale Pie

Shin is 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, you can also cook in the oven at around 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 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. I am using Liberation Ale ( obviously ) but you can substitute any good flavoursome beer of your choice Adnams Broadside and Fullers ESB are other personal favourites.

 1.5kg Shin of Beef, bone removed, meat cut into chunks

( Ask you butcher to do this as you need a really good knife to cut shin

and ask the butcher to give you the bone )

500 gr Chestnut Mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced

2 large White Onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 large Carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks of Celery, washed and finely chopped

750 ml quality Beef Stock

500 ml Liberation Ale or a good Ale of your choice

100 ml quality Olive Oil or 3 tablespoons Beef Dripping

100 gr Plain Flour

2 tablespoons Tomato Puree

1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

Bouquet garni; Celery stick, Bay leaf, Parsley and Thyme

A generous pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg

Fine Sea Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Ready-made puff pastry

(use an all-butter one if you can) or Shortcrust

1 free-range Egg, beaten

Place the beef, flour, and seasoning into a plastic bag and shake. Meanwhile, heat the oil or dripping in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Fry the beef shin in batches until browned all over and set aside. In the same pan, adding a little more oil necessary, sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until soft for about ten minutes. Add the tomato puree and leftover flour and cook out for another minute, stirring continuously, before adding the beer and beef stock. Add the beef shin back to the pan, stir everything together and place the marrow bones and bouquet garni, tied with string, on top.

Reduce the heat and place a tight-fitting lid on the pan. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer. Allow to cook for about two hours then remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce for another hour. When the beef is cooked, remove from the heat and thoroughly cool. When cool remove the bones and the bouquet garni.

To serve, preheat your oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas mark 4 and on a floured surface, roll out the half of the pastry to fit an oven-proof pie dish. Carefully place the pastry into the greased dish and add the beef shin filling. Brush the edges with egg wash and top with remaining rolled out pastry, crimp the edges and brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg. You can decorate with any pastry offcuts if you want. Place the pie in the oven for thirty to forty-five minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked. Allow to stand for 5 minutes after baking and serve with horseradish mash and buttered peas or seasonal greens.

Wine

What to Drink? A fruity, smooth spicy new world Merlot is a perfect match with the rich, full flavours of the slow-cooked gravy or have a pint of the ale that you cooked with.

 

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk    Eggs  Celery  Raw Fish In the Worcestershire sauce

Please see the Allergens Page

Steamed Jersey Mussels with Ale

Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer

I have been going through some old files on my laptop and I found a picture of my shy and retiring self on the stage cooking at the first Jersey Food Festival making a delicious shellfish dish Jersey Mussels with Garlic, Chilli, Caraway, and Beer.

Cookery Festival
Preparing tomato concassé, the beer was for cooking!

The festival was a week of fantastic events culminating in a two-day market highlighting the islands best produce and some of its chefs. I was there to help promote the Liberation Brewery and produced three dishes all including ale. The following recipe for  is one of them, it is unashamedly stuffed full of wonderful Jersey ingredients, including the amazing mussels, but you can of course use your own local supplies, it just might not taste quite so good.

More An Island Chef Mussel Recipes
Paella de marisco
Mussels with Beer and Chorizo
Seafood Tom yam Soup
Classic Moules Marinières

 

Steamed Jersey Mussels with Ale
Jersey Mussels with Ale

Jersey Mussels in Ale          generously serves 6 people

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. Most people in the audience seemed to understand my measurements, a slosh or a glug, especially after a glass or so of ale so I’ve kept them in the recipe.

2 kg Jersey Mussels

250 gr Tomato concassé

250 ml of Liberation Ale

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

4 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A good sized nugget of Jersey butter ( at least 50 gr )

A slug of quality olive oil ( 75 ml )

2 teaspoons of Caraway seeds

1 teaspoon ground Coriander

1 medium Red Chilli, finely diced

A good handful of fresh Coriander, roughly chopped

The juice of 1 freshly squeezed Lemon

Freshly ground Black Pepper

for the Tomato concassé

4- 5 ripe large Jersey Beef Tomatoes

To make the concassé, with a sharp knife remove the eye of the tomato ( the small white area where the stem joined the tomato ) and make a small cross on the bottom. Plunge in boiling water for two minutes. Remove and refresh in ice cold water. Gently peel off the skin. Quarter the tomatoes and remove the core and seeds. Dice and put to one side.

To prepare the mussels see my recipe for the classic Moules Marinières

In a very large heavy bottomed pan toast the caraway seeds for two minutes over a moderate heat. Add the butter and the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for around twenty-five minutes to soften them. Turn up the heat and add the ale and the chilli, coriander, and a good few turns of the pepper mill. Tip in the mussels and cover with tight-fitting lid. Steam for five minutes shaking the pan occasionally until the mussels are all open. Add the tomato concassé stir and cook for two more minutes. Finish with more black pepper, the lemon juice, and the chopped coriander.

Serve with warm Naan bread to mop up the sauce.

Wine

 

What to Drink? A fruity French Rosé will stand up to the spices and tomatoes as will the slightly bitter flavours of Belgium pale ales.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk Oyster Possibly Sulphites in the Beer

Please see the Allergens Page

National Seafood Week – Mussels with Beer and Chorizo

This lovely Autumnal recipe pairs two fantastic flavours with fresh mussels and is perhaps my favourite of all the mussel dishes I regularly cook. There is something about the combination of the pungent braised chorizo and aromatic, slightly bitter, beer with the cooking liquor of the mussels which creates a wonderful broth in which to dip great chunks of freshly baked crusty bread. For the beer I would naturally recommend Liberation IPA or Butcombe Bitter of course but Adnam’s Broadside, Fuller’s London Pride or Moorland Old Speckled Hen all give great results, for the braised chorizo recipe follow the link to The Online Cookery School.

Mussels with Beer and Chorizo

Mussels with Beer and Chorizo Sausage                            generously serves 6 people

2 kg fresh Mussels ( about 350 gr of Mussels per person )
140 gr Braised Chorizo
A good sized nugget of Butter
A slug of quality Olive Oil
6 large Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
300 ml of deep flavoured Beer
3 tablespoons Tomato Puree
A good handful of Parsley, washed and finely chopped
The juice of 1 freshly squeezed Lemon
Freshly ground Black Pepper

To prepare the mussels see my recipe for the classic Moules Marinières

In a large, heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté for about ten minutes until they are soft and gently coloured. Turn up the heat and add the garlic, tomato puree, chorizo and a generous few turns of the pepper mill. Stir well and cook for two minutes. Pour in the beer, stir and bring to the boil before tipping in the mussels. Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for five minutes until the mussels are all open. Remove the lid and simmer for two more minutes to slightly reduce the cooking liquor. I like plenty of the cooking juices to mop up with lots of crusty bread. Finish the mussels with the lemon juice and lots of parsley and serve.

Wine

 

What to Drink? A fruity French Rosé will stand up to the spices and tomatoes as will the slightly bitter flavours of Belgium pale ales.

Allergens in this recipe are;

     Milk Oyster Possibly Sulphites in the Beer

Please see the Allergens Page