As we discovered this week in Kathy’s Cooking Class, beer can be used to both tenderize and add flavour to meat dishes. Here are some recommendations for classic beer braises.
A Canadian Spin on a European Classic
An Alsatian dish, Choucoutre, features braised cabbage served with pork, potatoes and other rustic vegetables is traditionally made with Riesling, but when made on the Belgian side of the border chefs opt for a bottle of beer instead of wine. Use local vegetables and your favourite Canadian beer and soon enough you’ve got a Canadian interpretation of a European favourite.
A Beefy Pair
Stews and meat pies, such as the English favourite, steak and kidney pie, love a healthy splash of beer as part of the braising liquid. Avoid bitter-edge Pale Ales and India Pales Ales. An English Mild or country-style Brown Ale, such as Newcastle Brown Ale, are perfect choices. Add a sweet dimension to the dish by caramelizing onions with a sweet-edged style of dark ale such as Garrison Brown Ale.
On the Lamb
The Irish love their lamb stew, and we love their beer. When braising lamb, either for a stew or a robust lamb shank dish, try using an Irish style Stout instead of red wine. It will add an interesting roasted character to the dish.
Don’t Be Chicken
Coq au Vin is a French classic but there’s no reason you can’t use beer instead of wine. When braising mild flavoured poultry such as chicken, opt for a lighter style of beer, such as a red ale. Rickard’s Red works in this case.
The Belgians reign supreme as the leaders of haute beer cuisine. One of that country’s favourite dishes is Carbonade, which consists of braising a tough cut of beef, such as the shoulder, with onions, mustard, juniper berries, woody herbs, a dash of vinegar and beer. A rich Belgian Ale is the classic choice here but you can regionalize this dish by using local grass fed beef, local vegetables, a good local mustard such as Chef Jason Lynch’s Dijon Mustard (available at Domaine de Grand Pré winery) and your favourite local brew.