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A Beginners Guide To Cooking With Beer

The first thing you should know about cooking with beer is that it is in a whole different area than cooking with wines or spirits. Most modern beers, particularly lager beers, do not have a particularly strong or characteristic flavour. Add to this that the alcohol content of most beers is considerably lower than most wines and all spirits, because of the volume of liquid and you can see that if we want to use beer effectively in cooking, we need to be very selective both of the beer and of the accompanying ingredients.

I write from a British perspective, and can vouch for the unique and characterful flavour of many British bottled or draft beers, Greene King’s ‘Old Speckled Hen’ or Theakston’s ‘Old Peculier’ but I am aware that neither of these beers is universally available outside of the United Kingdom.If you are a beer connoisseur, and know the beers of your local micro brewery, opt for a beer of around 5.5 to 7.0 percent ABV (alcohol by volume) if possible, and one that is dark in colour and contains an above average amount of malt. This is a generalisation as there are some delightful paler beers out there, but this is likely to give you more distinct flavour in cooking.If you know little or nothing about micro breweries or beer that isn’t lager, don’t despair — use a bottle of Guinness, which is available just about everywhere in the world. (a word of warning, though, some export Guinness has twice the alcohol content of the domestic Irish brew!)But enough about the beer — let’s get cooking….Beer does not go too well with poultry or veal, and most definitely is a non-starter with fish of any kind. It is, however, good with beef and in my opinion delicious with venison. A favourite pub meal in Britain is steak and ale pie, and my home made version goes as follows: You will need 6 ozs of lean stewing steak (or venison) per person, cut into 1″ cubes

A good bunch of parsley

About 300mls of bottled beer (as described above, any will do but my own favourite is Old Speckled Hen)

A good pinch of ground black peppercorns

Small pinch of salt (optional)

Two medium sized carrots, cut in small julienne strips

A little cornflour for thickening (or you could cheat and use some gravy granules from a packet)

Some puff pastry (I cannot make good puff pastry and always use frozen ready made. Unless you are a kitchen wizard, I suggest you do the same!) Method:Put the diced meat into a bowl, cover with beer. Cover the bowl with cling film and put into the fridge for at least one

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