Beer... Beer... Beer!
Beer is constantly being reinvented and remains as fresh and as sparkling as it was some 6000 years ago when it was invented. It should be celebrated as a triumph of humankind over wild yeast and acknowledged as a cultural phenomenon as well as a great conversation companion - as good natured as most of its fans. Craft beers, known to most hip-hop-and-happening beer drinkers, even manage to tickle my champagne-loving taste buds and succeed in quenching a summer thirst. They may be a little more expensive but the proof of this pudding is in the tasting! Craft beer - crafted from natural ingredients such as malt, yeast and water, and brewed using traditional methods - is produced by small, independent brewers or artisans; hence the verb 'crafting' a beer. They are unpasteurised which means the flavour is full and rich. I hope all these interesting facts will encourage you to research and to appreciate all that goes into craft beers. I was inspired so chose to share some appropriate recipes with you. As with any food component, always use the best ingredients - in this case beer - that money can afford. This will make a difference to the final product.
'Can-Can' Chicken is simply delicious! My first trainee at Hartford House, Werner Wolff, taught me how to do it. After a few years he came back as my sous chef (for those who know my kitchen - yes I have had males cooking with me over the years even though I presently pride myself with having an all-female team). We were preparing for a braai demonstration and I was showcasing interesting and different ideas. I had never heard of 'Can-Can' Chicken so put this braai brilliance down to him having grown up in Bloemfontein. The crowd was amazed. These days, however, popularity has led to it being less uncommon. If you have never made this before I strongly recommend you do. The result is the most succulent beer-infused, crispy chicken that you could ever imagine.
On another braai note, why not marinate your meat, such as beef fillet, in beer? It brings out a caramelised sweetness which is decadently delicious.
Beef-stew pie, topped with homemade rough puff pastry, is perfect for these chilly evenings. It's my kind of home-cooked, winter meal, especially when paired with a glass of fine, red wine. Rough puff is simple to make compared with the traditionally-made puff pastry. Try it, you will be amazed. We always keep a few batches in our freezer so when needed we pop it into the fridge to defrost overnight. The freezing process does not spoil the quality; it gives you the opportunity to stock up when time allows and be ahead of the game when time isn't on your side.
We should all be serving beer bread in our homes. South Africa is a beer-drinking nation so this perfectly crusted; fine crumbed; slightly sweet bread, served with thick lashings of butter, compliments any meal time.
We have always caramelised onions in balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, red and white wine - now, think beer! Why not? Try this recipe and serve with the next cheeseboard you present. It could also accompany your marinated, braaied beef fillet. The options are endless.
Beer ice cream is the piece de resistance - the ultimate cherry on the top. I have to admit to scepticism when I embarked on creating this recipe. The result, however, was so successful that I decided to serve it with my Peanut Butter Semi-freddo, a recipe in my book Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home; impressing your beer-drinking friends is guaranteed. When taking the photos for this article, photographer Karen Edwards suggested a beer float (I wish I could claim the idea). So a beer topped with beer ice cream and served as dessert evolved!
Allow your creativity to flow and remember no idea is bad - especially when it comes to food. Try it all, experimentation is always fun!
You'll find more recipes in my recently-launched book Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home. At R250 from any well-known bookstore, or online, it's a worthwhile buy. I look forward to receiving your comments.
Please take these recipes and try them.
Send comments and food-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK, find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron and visit my website, www.jackiecameron.co.za. Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and food styling.