A long (long, long) time ago I posted my recipe for Beer Batter, and it obviously resonated as it’s still my most popular post. I’ve been playing around with it again lately so I made a video!
While most people consider summer to be barbecue weather, I’m the opposite. Standing next to a screaming hot barbecue in 40C heat is not my idea of having fun. On the other hand, when it’s nice and cold outside standing next to a nice hot barbecue is quite pleasant. That and holding a beer and watching my Imperial Stout ribs slowly smoke is heavenly. Anyway enough rabbiting on here’s the recipe.
Imperial Stout - Pork Spare Ribs Serves 4
2 racks of pork spare ribs
3 tbsp salt
1½ tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
1½ tbsp sweet paprika powder
100 ml apple cider vinegar
100 ml Imperial Stout
1 cup of my BeerBQ sauce
Pre-heat your smoker to 135C (275F). I like to use a combination of applewood and ironbark.
Trim the pork racks and remove the membrane from the inside of the rack.
Combine the salt, pepper and paprika well and sprinkle evenly over the pork racks. Be sure to get a nice even coating, and rub it in a little with your hands. Pour the vinegar and beer into a spray bottle and combine well.
Place the pork racks in the smoker and cook for two hours, turning occasionally and spritzing with the beer/vinegar mixture every 30 minutes. Place a double layer of foil on your bench and remove the ribs from the smoker. Spritz again with the beer mixture and coat with the BeerBQ sauce. Wrap the ribs in the foil, making sure not to puncture it.
Return the ribs to the smoker and cook for a further hour. Check for doneness. Remember, barbecue is not an exact science so use your judgement if it needs a little longer. When the pork is done, remove from the foil and give them another 15 minutes in the smoker to set the glaze and get some colour on it.
Use a sharp knife to divide the ribs up and serve immediately with a pot of BeerBQ sauce on the side.
Note: I like to serve this with a simple kimchi slaw, and obviously a good beer!
I get asked about beer batter all the time.
How do you make it?
Does it matter what beer I use? Etc.
I’m writing this entry to dispel a few myths about beer batter. I’ve read so many ridiculous ways to prepare beer batter I thought it’s about time to debunk all the nonsense, deep breath, here I go…
FIRST RULE of beer batter:
Beer batter is not complicated, it should only contain beer and self-raising flour.
It does not need water, ice, soda water, cornflour, bicarb or any other rubbish.
SECOND RULE of beer batter:
The beer should be cold. Along with the carbonation of the beer the temperature helps make the batter crisp. I do not know the science behind this, I’ll ask Heston Blumenthal to research it and get back to you.
THIRD RULE of beer batter:
You DO NOT need to sift the flour, and don’t over-whisk it. A few lumps actually makes for a better texture.
FOURTH RULE and most important rule of beer batter:
It is important to choose the correct beer according to what you are going to cook. As any ingredient ranges in texture and taste, so does beer. Beers range from a light lager all the way up to a crazy chewy stout. Know your beer and match it accordingly.
If deep-frying seafood use the following beer in the batter:
Flathead – Lager or a Pale Ale.
Cod –Pale Ale or an English Bitter
Sardines – a Japanese Lager
Oysters – Stout or Porter
Note: The beer that works in the batter will generally be the correct beer to drink with the final dish. Remember though there are always exceptions!
BEER BATTER Makes enough for four medium pieces of fish
220g self-raising flour
1 x 330ml bottle of cold beer (the appropriate one)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
In your Kitchen Aid with the whisk attachment, add the flour and beer and whisk. Do not over whisk as a few lumps adds a bit of extra texture. You can do it by hand.
Pre-heat your fryer to 180ºC. You can use a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat with a thermometer but a small domestic fryer is well worth the few dollars. I have a Breville fryer, it’s brilliant.
Dredge your ingredient (ie fish) in flour, tap to shake off any excess then coat in the batter.
Fry for a few minutes or until golden brown, remove from oil and drain on kitchen towel. Season well, immediately.
Some suggestions of things to batter and fry:
• Fish, prawns, mussels, oysters
• Banana, pineapple
• Onion Rings, potato slices
• Hot dogs, pork sausages
Who am I kidding, you can deep-fry almost anything!
You can add some freshly ground spices to the batter to give a flavour kick if you like.
Try deep frying fish in a beer batter laced with cumin, coriander and paprika to give a Moroccan direction. Serve it with a Moroccan zucchini salad and yogurt.
The images below show beer battered Flathead tails. I’ve used a Kooinda Pale Ale in this batter. The Pale Ale’s texture and flavours match beautifully with the flathead. Buy a six pack, that way you get to enjoy the beers with the final dish.
UPDATE: I put all this in video!
I recently read an article that states that the recipe most searched for on Google is… wait for it… pancakes. This did surprise me more than a little, but then again who doesn’t love a good pancake? They’re so effortless to make it astounds me there are actually packet mixes out there, and people buy them! They’re made from basic pantry staples, and so much better from scratch. No excuses people.
Known by many names around the world (pancakes, hotcakes, griddlecakes, flapjacks, crepes, dosas, boxty and drop scones to name just a few) the pancake takes many forms, uses many ingredients and comes in many sizes. From sweet to savoury they are enjoyed in some form by pretty much every culture around the world and have been gracing our tables for centuries.
As I did with the humble cup cake on MasterChef, I’d like to make a beery injection into pancakes and give a Chris twist to this old favourite.
Beer does a couple of things to the pancake batter. Firstly it adds a nice earthy, maltiness to the flavour and secondly the carbonation in the beer adds air to the batter, making it lighter and fluffier. If you use a good ‘live’ beer the yeast also helps with the flavour and lightness.
It is very important to use the right beer for the job. Just throwing in any old lager would not be pleasant to say the least. You need to go with a mild Porter or Stout to get the best results. Porters and Stouts by their very nature are quite sympathetic to doughs and batters. “Beer and milk?” I hear you say? Trust me, this combination works like magic. And no, it doesn’t end up tasting like a beer!
BEER PANCAKES Makes 6 medium pancakes
1 cup self-raising flour
½ cup mild Porter / Stout (I used Coopers Dark Ale)
½ cup full cream milk
Unsalted butter to cook with
Maple syrup, the real stuff
1 punnet of seasonal berries
In your mixer with the whisk attachment, add the egg, flour, beer and milk, whisk until combined. You can easily do this by hand.
Melt the butter in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted add the batter, around ½ a cup at a time. Do not over crowd the pan, do 1 or 2 at a time. When small bubbles start to appear on the top of the pancakes they are ready to be turned. Cook for a further 45 seconds or until browned on the bottom and remove. Continue this process until all the pancakes are done.
Drizzle with the maple syrup and berries and serve immediately.
NOTE: Some people make their pancakes with buttermilk. This does not work in this recipe as the beer curdles the buttermilk.
For those of you who do not know what buttermilk is…
Buttermilk was originally the liquid left over form churning butter from cream. In modern times it refers to a lightly fermented milk product made from adding bacterial cultures during the processing of low fat milk. Contrary to its name, buttermilk contains no butter and is low in fat, 2% in fact. Buttermilk is slightly acidic, this reacts with the raising agents in the batter and adds to the lightness of the final product. Buttermilk is easily obtained from your local supermarket.
Munich, pork hocks and German beer – one of those holy trinity combinations of place, pork and pint. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Just picture sitting at one of the window tables of the Paulaner restaurant in Munich in the dead of winter, the snow is falling outside as a waitress places an enormous stein of Munich Hell in front of you. It’s not your first for the day (and will definitely not be your last). Moments later a large tray laden with tender pork, red and white sauerkraut and potato salad fills your peripheral vision and comes to a thumping stop in the middle of the table. Nothing is said for a few moments as everybody takes in the spectacle, then the smiles start and the approving glances. The feasting ensues.
More rounds of Hell hit the table. The steins appear to keep getting bigger and more frequent… not a problem.
This is not the scenario that caused me to fall for the humble hock, but it sure as hell didn’t hurt. Maybe it was the mesmerising walls of spinning, roasting hocks in the windows of Munich’s restaurants. Whatever it was I’m certainly a huge fan.
The hock is part of the pig’s leg, the first joint above the foot. It has a lot of connective tissue in it so it requires very long slow cooking to get the most out of it. I prefer a slow braise to get the meat tender, then roasting to crackle up the skin. The following recipe includes cloves which gives the dish a bit of a Christmassy feel but you can swap them out for any flavour you prefer – fennel is a nice addition and matches perfectly with pork.
German wheat, Munich Hell
Pork hock in beer. Serves 2 (hungry people)
2 pork hocks
1 brown onion, quartered
½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
4 sprigs thyme
1 head garlic, cut in half
12 black peppercorns
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 × 500ml bottle German wheat beer
In a heavy based saucepan, add all the ingredients and cover with the beer, top up with water if needed.
Over a high heat bring to the boil, reduce heat to the lowest setting, cover and simmer for 3 hours. Turn the heat off and allow the hocks to cool in the liquid.
Pre-heat oven to 180ºC.
Remove the hocks from the cold liquid and pat dry with kitchen towel.
Rub with a little olive oil and season well. Bake for 45 minutes or until nicely browned and the skin is nice and crunchy.
Remove from the oven and serve with saurkraut, home made potato salad, and a few litres of German beer (and then a few more).
Caillettes are small sausages traditionally made around France during the fete du cochon – the day of the pig slaughter. They typically contain belly and shoulder meat mixed with pig offal and cabbage, wrapped in caul and baked in wine or stock. They’re pretty much the French version of the traditional English faggot, but with a little more vegetable content (not altogether surprising really).
I’m a huge fan of the English-style faggots. On my last trip to the UK I visited friends in the Forest of Dean, West Gloucestershire, and my way through many a plate of this piggy treat. The English usually serve them with onion gravy and mash, while the French will eat it hot or cold with crusty bread (again, no surprises there). They’re basically the tastiest rissole you will ever find.
This is a great way to utilise pork offal. Pork offal has a very strong taste, and eaten alone it can be a bit much for the non-offal inclined. By combining it with the other cuts and all the herbs and spices, the flavour of the offal is not overpowering and is rounded out beautifully. The pig’s heart, liver and kidneys give a moistness and amazing depth of flavour to these little bundles of joy.
My version below is not so traditional in that I prefer to cut out the shoulder meat and just use the belly. I add a few more spices as well to give it that little kick, and true to form, I cook the little buggers in beer. These guys are brilliant straight out of the oven, and are even better the next day cold and sliced on a piece of lightly toasted sourdough.
Bière de garde, a dark Belgian Trappist Ale, a Belgian Blond or an English Ale
Caillette in beer. Makes 12-15
1 ½ cups chard, chopped
500g pork belly, minced
200g pork kidneys, finely chopped or minced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
½ bunch parsley, chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 cloves garlic, minced
50ml tokay (or similar)
good pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
caul fat, soaked in cold water
1 × 330ml bottle Belgian Blond (not the low carb rubbish, real blonde)
Pre heat oven to 160ºC.
In a bowl mix together all the Caillette ingredients and mix with your hand to combine. Make sure you season them well.
With wet hands, shape the mixture into 12-15 even balls. Lay the caul out on your chopping board and cut it into 10cm squares. Wrap each ball in caul fat and place them seam side down in a baking dish that’s just big enough to fit them snuggly.
Pour the beer over the Caillettes until just covered. If you don’t have quite enough beer top it up with water.
Bake for 45 minutes or until nicely browned.
Remove from the oven and serve with loads of crusty bread hot or cold.