Cooking with Belgian Beer

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Every country seems to have at least one traditional ingredient – in Belgium it's beer. Cooking with beer is increasing in popularity outside of Belgium and is an easy way to add a new and exciting twist to an old favourite. At the Sint Stefanus Monastery in Ghent, the original home of our abbey beer, the resident chef is well versed in Belgian cuisine and beer-based dishes. It is these beer dishes that are the clear favourites of the multicultural community living within the Monastery walls. And that should come as no surprise, as the chef says, “cooking with beer lets you discover tastes that you have never discovered before.” To find out more, we spent some time in the Monastery kitchen and collated these essential tips from the chef himself. When cooking with beer, the secret is to hold back – too much beer could overwhelm the dish. Use just the right amount and always err on the side of ‘less is more’. It is also important to pair the right type of beer with the right dish. St. Stefanus Blonde is ideal for fish and seafood dishes, while a darker beer is better with red meat. It is also worth remembering that the beer adds its own flavour to the dish – so you should never cook with a beer that you wouldn’t drink. Lastly, our chef advises that you don’t restrict yourself to just cooking with beer. Baked goods made with beer will be incredibly moist and also last that little bit longer. This is especially true for dishes made with bottle-conditioned beers that still contain yeast. This yeast will help to lighten the texture of baked goods and help battered dishes to ‘puff up’ while still enhancing the flavour. And if you have ever wondered why our beer makes such a good ingredient, the answer is in how it’s made. With St. Stefanus it is the combination of the bitterness of the hops in perfect balance with the sweetness of the sugar that adds such a distinct taste to any dish. Try your hand at this recipe for Honey Beer Bread made with St. Stefanus Blonde.

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