Put out the bunting, it’s International Beer Day on Sunday (5th August).
Do you know that in 2011 an American journalist decided to abstain from solid food for Lent and drank nothing but beer and water for 46 days? He wanted to see if he could emulate German monks of the 16th century who supposedly lived solely on doppelbock beer—”liquid bread”—during Lent.
He drank four beers a day and needless to say lost weight, but before you all take up the same ‘diet’, once he went through all of his fat, his body began consuming its own muscle to get protein and as a result he got back pain because his kidneys became clogged up, so not something to try at home kids!
Still, there’s few things better in life than a beer, when eaten with food that is and we’re also big advocates of using beer in recipes.
Like wine, it adds body and flavour to dishes and it’s just as complex as that drink made using grape so it can be used in a range of dishes.
If you go into most gastropubs these days you will undoubtedly see beer battered fish. Chefs use it because like sparkling water, it helps carbonate the mix, making the batter crisp, light and airy and you can us pretty much all variations, including stout, brown ale and even lager.
Other common uses include using it as a marinade on dishes such as ribs, in casseroles and steak and ale pie (the clue is in the title!), beer can chicken has become very popular and we have even had had a beer and cheddar soup in a restaurant before.
It’s also nice when used in desserts. Guinness is used in various cakes, including brownies, we’ve eaten beer truffles and you can even make an ice cream beer float.
So, we’ll be raising a glass to International Beer Day on Sunday and be eating this easy to follow recipe:
Beef and ale stew with dumplings
Ingredients (for the beef):
- 50 g plain flour
- 1kg stewing steak (cut into chunks)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large sliced onion, slice
- 300 beef stock
- 500 ml ale (your choice of Beer but Brooklyn brown ale is good)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
(for the dumplings):
- 100 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 75 g butter
- 1 tbsp fresh/ground parsley,
- 1 tsp fresh/ground thyme
- 50 g grated extra mature cheese
1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and season before adding the meat.
2. Heat 1tbsp oil in a large pan and fry meat until browned all over. Transfer the beef to another plate before adding 75ml water to the pan at the end to deglaze it.
3. Add a touch more oil and onion to pan. Cover and cook for 15min until soft.
4. Add the beef back to the pain with the stock, ale and herbs. Bring to boil. Turn down heat, partially cover and simmer for around 3 hours until tender.
5. For the dumplings mix all the ingredients, apart from cheese, in a bowl with plenty of seasoning,in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add cheese and mix in to form larger flakes, then sprinkle over 1–2tbsp water to bring the dough together.
6. Roll into balls and dot around stew leaving a small gap between them. Put into oven uncovered and cook for 20min until dumplings are puffed and golden.
7. Serve with a pint of beer, obviously!