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.
Baked Portobello Mushroom and Chorizo

Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg

After the excesses of Christmas, I quite often want something with plenty of flavour but that is perhaps not too substantial and relatively simple to create. It can be very easy with lunches out with family and friends between Christmas and the New Year celebrations to easily be over faced with just too much food. In my case that is quite difficult but never the less still possible, so here is a recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg that is very tasty and quite light and very easy to make.

Baked Portobello Mushroom and Chorizo
Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo

In this recipe for Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg, I use braised Chorizo, which is a staple in our kitchen at home great for flavouring stews, soups and casseroles. If you cannot get Portobello mushrooms, open-cap field mushrooms area perfect substitute.     

Baked Portobello Mushrooms with Chorizo and Egg             serves 4

4 Portobello Mushrooms, peeled and stems removed

150 gr braised Chorizo, drained, plus reserved oil

2 large handfuls of Baby Spinach, washed and dried ( optional )

4 fresh free-range Eggs

A sprig or two of fresh Thyme

Fine Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with foil. Place the mushrooms, gills side up, on the baking sheet, drizzle with a little braised Chorizo oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for ten minutes. While the mushrooms are cooking, heat a little more Chorizo oil in a frying pan, over medium heat, and quickly toss in the baby spinach, season and remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven and divide the spinach between them. Top with the braised Chorizo and sprinkle with fresh Thyme leaves. Place back in the oven for ten more minutes before removing once more and cracking an egg into each. Place back in the oven and bake for a final ten minutes. Remove and serve with a little lightly dressed herb salad.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour     Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

Sausage, Apple and Thyme Hash

Sometimes you just want simple, full flavoured food. Something more than a snack but perhaps nothing as complicated as a full meal. Hash is a great and easy to prepare dish that can be made with beef, corned beef from a tin is great but flakes of your own cured salt beef is better, confit duck and pulled pork. Hash is a dish made from diced or chopped meat, potatoes, and flavourings such as onions, spices and herbs that are mixed together and then cooked. The name is thought to come from the French verb ‘ hacher ‘ meaning to chop. Corned beef hash became especially popular in Britain, during and after the second world war, when rationing limited the availability of fresh meat.

Sausage Hash

You can add just about anything you want to use up in your fridge and ramp up the heat with lots of pepper and chillies if you so choose. I like the sweetness in this recipe that you get from the onions and apples, a classic flavour combination with pork sausage and make sure there is a real good grind of black pepper for a little kick.

Sausage, Apple and Thyme Hash                                             serves 2

6 grilled, good quality Pork Sausages, from your local butcher

500 gr boiled Baby Potatoes, sliced

2 large Spanish Onions, peeled and finely sliced,

2 Red Peppers, de seeded and sliced

2 Crisp Green Eating Apples

2 fresh free range Eggs ( Duck Eggs if you can get them )

80 ml Vegetable Oil

50 gr Butter

½ teaspoon freshly picked Thyme leaves

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

A handful of curly Parsley, washed and finely chopped

Heat half of the oil and the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan until foaming. Add the onions and sauté for five to ten minutes, over a medium heat, until they start to soften but not colour. Add the potatoes, peppers, apples and thyme, stir and cook for ten more minutes until the potatoes are starting to colour. Place the sausage pieces in the pan and finish cooking, stirring occasionally. After ten more minutes, the sausages should be thoroughly heated through and the potatoes nicely golden brown. Season generously and keep warm. In a second frying pan, heat the remaining oil and fry the eggs. Stir in all most all the parsley into the hash, transfer into bowls and top with the eggs and remaining parsley.