Never mind wine, match beer with food

Never mind wine, match beer with food
(Photo: Alexsandr31 from Pixabay)

Beer is a perfect match for food too, not only wine, despite what sommeliers might tell us. Beef and Guinness pie. Beer with a curry. A pint of Portuguese ale with a bowl of salty pickled lupini beans. On International Beer Day, let’s get into the culture of beer and food.

Wine aficionados might turn their noses up at the notion of drinking beer with their meal, but it is a far more ubiquitous thing than you might think. I happen to have been in the company, one night long ago, of wine connoisseur John Platter when he ordered a Tiger beer to down with his curry. It just fits. I had wanted one myself and had thought he might look down on it. Then he led the way.

We know that publicans put out bowls of salted nuts and crisps when we’re in for a few pints, but there’s more to food and beer matching than that (let’s not get pretentious and call it pairing). It’s a natural progression to choose to drink beer with other salty meals too. A pint of good English bitter with your Sunday roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. A Portuguese Super Bock with that salty beef espetada. A pale ale with a howl of salt and pepper prawns. Have a pint of the black stuff with my Beef and Guinness Pie, the recipe for which you can find here.

A pile of fried chicken wings washes down well with a smooth Windhoek or Hansa. That Black Label (or three), Castle, Windhoek or Hansa at the braai side is as much a part of the braaing experience as the turning of the meat; the flavour of the beer and its crisp, chilled feel mingles with the smoke and the aromas coming off the grid. And there’s no reason we shouldn’t down a beer with a burger or a pizza either.

Those who spend time thinking about these things recommend that light lagers pair best with burgers and salads; India pale ales with steaks, braaied meats and fruity desserts (the jury’s out on that last one); amber ales and dark lagers with pizza, and wheat beers with most spicy food.

South Koreans drink Hite brews with their famous Korean barbecue. Canadians eat buttermilk pancakes with beer as cold as their climate. Vietnamese drink Bia Saigon or Bia Hanoi with their smoked veal. Germans down pints of the stuff with almost everything. Bia, as it is known in Vietnam rather than beer, derives from the French bière

We have our own beer brands too, both South African and Namibian. Windhoek has shared with TGIFood a range of recipes by Lufuno Sinthumule, better known as Chef Funi, to mark International Beer Day with beer-laden food and more to wash it down with. They recommend Windhoek Premium Beer, but of course you can choose any beer you like or what you happen to have in the fridge. Craft beers are fair game too.

Each recipe provided includes either Windhoek Premium Lager or Windhoek Premium Draught, and Chef Funi did develop the recipes to match these specific beers, so in fairness you might want to go the Windhoek route.

As the brand puts it: “Lufuno Sinthumule aka Chef Funi is a culinary expert who delights in crafting recipes that are delicious and easy to make. Inspired by the robust full flavour, complex aroma and spicy bitterness of Windhoek Premium Lager, Chef Funi has devised a recipe for sensational salmon rolls with cheesy Windhoek dipping sauce and everyone’s favourite Windhoek-marinated, flame-grilled BBQ chicken wings.”

What’s on the menu: Salmon rolls with cheesy Windhoek dipping sauce, beer-marinated, flame-grilled BBQ chicken wings, and Windhoek, strawberry and basil leaves sorbet.

The chef avers that “the perfect balance and pleasing smooth, malty finish of Windhoek Premium Draught works perfectly in the refreshing strawberry and basil leaf sorbet. The sweet, tangy and herby freshness of the strawberries, citrus and basil are softened and enriched by the addition of the beer.”

Salmon rolls with Windhoek dipping sauce

Salmon rolls. (Photo: Supplied)

You will need:

500 g smoked salmon, chopped

250 ml Windhoek Premium Lager

400 g floury potatoes, peeled and diced

500 ml cream cheese (plain)

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp fresh dill, chopped

lemon zest

1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

12 sheets filo/phyllo pastry, about 24 cm x 49 cm

1 egg, beaten

oil for deep frying

What to do:

In a medium pot, cook potatoes in Windhoek Premium Lager until soft and the beer is reduced. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Add the cream cheese, thyme, dill, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Mash or blend to form a smooth mixture and add the fish.

Place the mixture into the prepared filo pastry and roll into a cigar shape. Close the edges with the egg wash.

Place in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool down the filling to ensure the cigars do not burst open when deep fried.

Deep-fry cigars until light golden in colour. 

For the dipping sauce:

80 g butter

2 tbsp cake wheat flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

250 ml Windhoek Premium Lager

250 ml cheddar cheese

salt and pepper

What to do:

Add butter and flour to a medium pot over medium heat. Whisk together to form a roux as the butter melts.

Add garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper and cook roux for 1-2 minutes.

Whisk Windhoek Premium Lager into the roux slowly until it thickens. It should be a gravy consistency. If it is too thick, add more beer by the quarter cup.

Once mixture is combined, add grated cheese and whisk until melted. Serve immediately with the salmon cigars. 

Beer-marinated flame grilled BBQ chicken wings

Beer-marinated flame grilled BBQ chicken wings. (Photo: Supplied)

You will need:

1kg chicken wings

1 cup honey

1 cup soy sauce

½ cup chopped coriander

zest and juice of 3 limes or lemons

4 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup Windhoek Premium Lager, room temperature

What to do:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk to combine the soy sauce, honey, chopped cilantro, lime juice, minced garlic, olive oil and Windhoek Premium Lager.

Set aside one-third cup of marinade mixture to use for basting while the chicken is on the grill.

Place the chicken wings in a resealable bag and pour the remainder of the marinade over the top. Fold the top of the bag to get as much of the air out as possible before sealing it.

Let chicken marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The longer the better – I’ve left this overnight and the flavour is incredible!

Braai or grill the chicken wings until cooked to perfection, basting regularly. 

Beer, strawberry and basil leaf sorbet

Windhoek beer, strawberry and basil leaf sorbet. (Photo: Supplied)

You will need:

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup water

2 tsp chopped basil leaves, more to taste, plus leaves for garnish

3½ cups strawberries, hulled, pureed and strained

1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup Windhoek Premium Draught

What to do:

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture reduces in volume and thickens, about 5 minutes.

Add the basil to the syrup and chill the syrup until slightly cool, at least 30 minutes.

Pour the basil-infused syrup through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the basil.

Process the infused syrup, strained strawberries, lemon juice and Windhoek Premium Draught in a blender until the mixture is smooth.

Churn the strawberry-basil purée in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

Serve the sorbet garnished with a fresh basil leaf, if desired. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    And don’t forget, Tony – many Italian wine connoisseurs will tell you that the best drink with a crusty pizza is a beer! Try it and be converted.

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