• Fried calamari rings with golf sauce (The Food of Argentina)Source: The Food of Argentina
Crack the top off a coldie and pour it on your food. No, you're not drunk, you're cooking up a little something extra.
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28 Oct 2021 - 11:21 AM  UPDATED 28 Oct 2021 - 11:21 AM

Wait! Don't tip that half-drunk stubby of beer away - you can use it in your cooking.

Haha, don't worry. We know there's no such thing as a half-drunk bottle of beer. But there's a good reason to open a bottle simply to use in these dishes.

Beer makes food taste extra good.

It adds rich depth to savoury flavours, imparting a yeasty, nuttiness that's borderline umami. The alcohol in beer bonds with both fat and water molecules in your food, bringing the two together and allowing one to penetrate the other. This compounds all the flavours - especially their aroma. And we all know we do plenty of 'tasting' just through how good food smells.

Don't worry about the alcoholic content of your resulting dish. All that bonding and evaporating means most of beer's alcoholic content is sucked away during the cooking. Well, that's probably not the technical term for it, but you get the idea.

Here's a cheery bunch of beery dishes to get your party started. We promise you'll soon be under beer's influence.

The full strength

Now, this is a dish that loves its beer. The bubbly brew makes a brilliant marinade, penetrating flavour into every part of the lamb until it falls off the kerb... sorry, we meant bone.

A lighter touch

Pale ale plus a mountain of spices make for some super-tender chicken wings. These would go down like a treat with a couple of pale ales on the side.

The classic

A beer batter has long been giving fried fish the lightest crunch. Try it with an Argentinian take on calamari - a seaside treat in any location.

Beer-battered flathead with sauce Andalouse

Serve these crisp pieces of deep-fried flathead alongside the fresh sauce Andalouse - a tomato, onion, capsicum and mayo emulsion from Belgium.

Beer-battered artichoke chips

I love scooping these addictive morsels up with a really hot English mustard alloili, with a beer or two between dips!

Fried cod with garlic-potato dip

This creamy garlic-potato dip will give your favourite tartare sauce a run for its money.

Well-dunked

Sichuan beer duck is surely the pinnacle of beer dishes? It brings the spice, the heat and the beer all in under 15 minutes of prep time. The reward is a dish so full of flavour you'll feel decidedly sozzled after eating it (don't worry, zero remaining alcohol means it's all in your happy head).

A good grilling

Everyone knows beer goes down well at a barbecue. Especially when it's cooked right into the food. Marinade your lamb ribs in beer, sugar and spices and not only will they taste amazing, but those ribs will also stay meltingly-tender even as they stand up to grilling.

Stew on this

That's another of beer's (full) strengths: its strong flavour stands up to slow cooking as well as grilling. A beef and beer stew is on the menu in many cultures, perfected here by the Belgians. It's worth sourcing Belgian beer for full flavour impact, but make sure you take a couple of sips before pouring it in. That's some good drinking right there!

Drinking Belgian beer is now a cultural experience
UNESCO is recognising Belgian beer's rich cultural heritage.

On a casserole

Stay with the stew pot for a moment, because the French do it so well. Gabriel Gaté turns on the charm with a bottle of beer singing chicken and mushroom's praises. The fact that this casserole uses chicken drumsticks makes it a budget-friendly option to feed a crowd, too. That means there are more dollars left over to get the beers in...

Smash a pie

A pie flavoured with beer and Vegemite is surely taking the piss? All puns aside, this classic Aussie beef pie is way better than the type they palm off to you at the servo. Serve it up with homemade tomato sauce and an ice-cold craft beer and you're laughing.

Beef cheek and dark beer ragu

Beef cheek is beautifully tender and makes for a wonderful ragu. And how better to enjoy a rich, slow-cooked ragu than encased in flaky pastry?

Beef Guinness pie with blue cheese pastry

“If you’re a fan of pies, this is one to take very seriously. The crust is studded with the lovely earthiness of blue cheese, encasing a richly flavourful braised beef – it’s a marriage made in heaven and I promise it’s worth the effort! The pastry includes copha – you can use all butter, if preferred, but copha will create a lighter result. If you like, you can cut some leaf shapes with any remaining pastry to decorate the pie before baking.” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. 2

Use your noodle

It seems fitting that beer would find itself in a noodle dish - the two are a match made in foodie heaven. Da pan ji is full of big flavours and beer enhances every single one of them. You'll be hooked in one bite and you won't believe you made it yourself. But you did.

Glazed and infused

We've established that beer makes an excellent marinade, but it's also exceptional at glazing, too. Especially when reduced with maple syrup, mustard and other delicious bits. Then slathered all over pork belly just before serving. Exceptionally good.

Braised pork shoulder trencher

A clever childhood recipe now turned into a bit of a retro party staple. A dish we have been serving in the bar at Mjølner since the inception of the venue. Works with different breads and fillings, let your imagination run wild!

Tom Kerridge’s ale pulled pork sandwich

You can do this as a superb toasted sandwich, or just pile the flavour-packed pork onto a bun with the fixings. 

Veggie mates

While 'beer 'n' meat' seems to be joined at the hip, that's not always the case. Beer is also good friends with vegetables, as this beer-battered broccolini shows off. Very, very good friends.

Taco time

Proving that beer plays well with anyone, tofu tacos light up our vego worlds. Beer makes even bolder huge flavours like coriander, cumin and tomato, turning boring old tofu into a taste bomb. If you've got a friend who says they 'don't like tofu', make them this dish and change their mind.

Nothing fishy here

There's plenty of seafood gains over here - clams or pippies cooked in beer served with a pile of fresh herbs. It's enough to make you want to dive right in.

Mussels in Thai basil

This dish is simple and effective, with beautiful flavours coming from the Thai basil and lemongrass alongside the sweetness of the mussels.

Mussels with a spicy beer sabayon gratin

Stage 2 – Utrecht/Zélande: The cold waters of the North Sea are perfect for farming mussels, a favourite seafood for the Dutch. This dish makes a great appetiser or entrée but needs to be served as soon as possible after the sabayon has been browned.

Late-night smash

If you're on the beers and you're getting kind of hungry, then this is what you'll make. It's an ode to the Lisbon francesinha, but with added tuna. It's a bit like a quiet little cheese toastie tore it up during a night on the town. Plus you'll have tuna in the cupboard and the same cannot necessarily be said for steak.

Cheers Big Ears
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