By Jonny Garrett of the Craft Beer Channel
Cooking with beer. Cooking. But with beer. Is there a better sentence in the English language? I don’t mean cooking while drinking beer (although that’s pretty awesome too), I mean cracking open a beer, taking a swig, and then pouring the rest into the pan, or bowl, or baking tray, and letting it do its magic.
Not only do you get all those glorious beer flavours in the food (more on that later) but it often works as a shortcut in cooking. Take beer bread, for example. All you need is 375g of flour, 3 teaspoons of sugar, and a 330ml bottle of fragrant beer. No yeast, no warm water, no kneading, no proving. The yeast and the air bubbles are in the beer already – you just mix it, bake it for 45 minutes, then eat it. Probably with a beer.
In a similar vein, substituting a good saison or strong Belgian ale for milk in Jamie’s one-cup pancakes can make for a really naughty but really, really delicious breakfast, whether you top it with fruit and yoghurt or bacon and maple syrup.
And of course, who would eat a cod unless it was sustainable and covered in beer batter? Flour, beer, baking powder, salt. Mix, dunk, deep fry and eat. It’s so quick and easy you’ll never need to go to the fish and chip shop again.
And once you get deep-frying, there will be no stopping you. If you’re looking for a naughty side dish, try Jamie’s beer-battered curried cauliflower fritters too. It’s moreish as hell.
But beer can do more than batter and bread. Beer actually has more taste profiles than wine, because there are so many variations in the four ingredients. And that means if you can cook something with wine, you can be damned sure that it will work with a beer too, whether it’s a creamy risotto or a steak sauce.
Or, how about Jamie’s beef and ale stew? No meat browning, no stock making. Fry your meat, fry your veg, add a nice bitter, throw in some herbs. Stew for a few hours, then eat it. Probably with a beer.
Our favourite new recipe at the Craft Beer Channel is our Wheat Beer Clams (with beer bread of course), which are a lot like a mussels marinière, but instead of wine we used a Weihenstephaner wheat beer – probably the most famous of all the wheat beers because of its incredible bubblegum and fruity aroma. The result was a garlicky, floral and creamy dish that absolutely blew us away. I promise, hand on my heart, that it was the best clam dish I have ever tasted.
Cooking with beer is all about experimenting. Even once you have a brilliant set recipe, like our simple beer bread, you can keep experimenting by trying different beers – strong ones, hoppy ones, golden ones, bitter ones, even chocolate ones! There’s no end to the ways that we can include beer in our food. The only limit is what beer you can get hold of, and how daring you feel. We’ll be coming up with even more ideas and posting them here and on our Youtube channel, so try our videos, try the recipes we’ve linked to on Jamie’s site, and get finding new ways to get good beer in your life.