Category Archives: beer

Braised Rabbit In Belgian Ale

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Rabbit is one of those meats you either love or hate; I’m in the camp that loves it. I don’t cook it often but whenever I do I find myself wondering why I don’t cook it more often. After all, it is readily available fresh in Belgian markets. And rabbit is a versatile meat-it can be grilled, baked, or fried in the same ways one would cook chicken. But my favorite method is slow cooking it in a stew or a braise.

Now that the cooler weather is upon us again braised meat is the perfect dinner. This recipe, adapted from Simply Recipes, is easy to make and the ultimate in comfort food. And when using real Belgian ale, I like to think of it as a quintessential Belgian fall dinner. Serve the rabbit over a parmesan infused polenta or other starch that can soak up the juices.

BRAISED RABBIT in BELGIAN ALE 

1 2 1/2- 3 pound rabbit cut into 6 or 7 serving pieces

Salt

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1 1/2 cups Chimay or other Belgian ale

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons brown sugar

  • Place the rabbit on a large plate and sprinkle on both sides with salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Place the flour on another plate and dredge the rabbit pieces in the flour.
  • Heat the oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted and foamy, add the rabbit in a single layer. Brown on both sides for 5 to 6 minutes per side without disturbing. Remove the rabbit to a plate.
  • Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown.
  • Add the garlic cloves and thyme and cook until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant.
  • Increase the heat to high and add the ale. Simmer for 2 minutes then add the chicken stock. Season with the salt and pepper.
  • Return the rabbit to the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low. Cook for 45 minutes or until the rabbit is cooked through and tender.
  • Remove the rabbit to a platter and keep warm.
  • Increase the temperature to high and reduce the liquid by one third.
  • Reduce the temperature to low and stir in the mustard and sugar.
  • Return the rabbit to the pot and rewarm.

Serves 4-6

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Mini Chocolate Stout Cakes

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Happy St. Patty’s Day! Whether you are Irish by birth or by spirit, this is the week that  everyone is a wee bit Irish. And what better way to celebrate than with a bit of Guinness Stout? Guinness is great on its own but when combined with chocolate it only gets better. The combination of the rich beer and chocolate produces a dense and complex cake that isn’t overly sweet. You could skip the coffee infused ganache if you wanted but I think it takes these cakes from very good to great. After all, you now have beer, chocolate and coffee!

Like so many recipes, this one is an adaptation of an adaptation which you guessed it, was adapted from the original. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen but versions of this recipe are floating all over the web. Some recipes produce three layer cakes and others give you one large bundt shaped cake. I decided to make mini bundt cakes since I recently re-discovered my mini bundt cake pan while unpacking my moving boxes. And because I made this cake for a get together with Glenn’s co-workers, the mini cakes traveled better and were easier to serve a crowd. I had hoped to bring a leftover cake home with me but alas, they all disappeared. I guess the moral is that if I really want to eat the cake I need to leave one at home.

MINI CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKES

For the cake:

1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the ganache:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules

To make the cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a six-cake mini bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray taking care to get in all of the nooks and crannies. If you don’t have two pans you will need to wash, dry, and re-grease the pan before baking the remaining cakes.
  • In a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer.
  • Add the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.
  • Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
  • Add the stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed until just combined.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan.

To make the ganache:

  • For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
  • Drizzle over the top of cooled cakes.

Yields: 12 miniature bundt cakes

Meat & Stout Pie w/ Blue Cheese Crust

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Tis the season when everyone is a wee bit Irish so why not celebrate with food?

For me, pot pies are the ultimate in winter comfort food. Chicken and turkey are my usual fillings but since my family eats a lot of beef stew I began playing with making a beef pot pie that was reminiscent of meat pies I’ve enjoyed in Great Britain. And I found success. If a rich beef stew is good, it is even better when encased in a flaky crust. But I didn’t stop there. In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day I adapted this pot pie from Williams Sonoma into an Irish tribute. Both beef and lamb and slow cooked in a rich Guinness Stout broth which infuses the entire meal with flavor. And best of all, it is topped off with a blue cheese crust. Yum.

I’m not going to lie; this is a time consuming dish to make. But you can do as I often do and make this dish is two steps over two days. The filling and dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to assemble the pot pies and eat them. Simply reheat the filling until it is hot and bubbling then fill the pie dishes and proceed as directed. By doing this, you can easily serve up hot pie pies as a fast weeknight meal.

MEAT & STOUT PIE w/ BLUE CHEESE CRUST

For the meat filling:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

1 cup pearl onions, peeled

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 1/2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 pound lamb roast, cut into 1-inch cubes

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 1/2 cups Irish stout, divided

1 cup beef broth

1 cup carrots, cut into chunks

2 cups red potatoes, cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced

One 16-inch round blue cheese pastry

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms, onions, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 to 12 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned and softened. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
  • Place the flour and remaining salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  • Dredge the beef and lamb in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. When the oil is hot add half of the meat and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes. Transfer the meat to a separate bowl.
  • Add 1/4 cup of the Guinness Stout to the pot, stirring to scrape up any brown bits. Pour the liquid into the reserved meat.
  • Repeat the process with the remaining oil, meat and 1/4 cup of stout.
  • Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add the meat, reserved liquid, remaining stout and beef broth the the pot, stirring to scrape up any browned bits.
  • Add the mushrooms, onions, carrots, potatoes, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is very tender, about 3 hours.

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/3 cup ice water

4 ounces crumbled blue cheese

  • In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt and sugar until blended.
  • Add in the butter pieces and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal; about 10 pulses.
  • Add the water and pulse an additional 2 to 3 times. The dough should be soft and hold together when squeezed but not sticky. If necessary, add additional water, by the tablespoon, until the dough is the right texture.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands a few times. Shape into a disk, wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and place on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll into a rough 12 by 16 inch square.
  • Sprinkle the blue cheese over half of the  dough then fold the other half over the cheese. Roll the dough again until it it is 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To assemble the pot pies:

  • Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place 4 2-cup oven proof ramekins on a rimmed baking dish and fill each one with the meat mixture.
  • Using a sharp paring knife and your baking dishes as a guide, cut out 4 circles of dough, adding 1/2 inch to each piece of dough.
  • Place the dough on top of each pot pie, crimping the edges to form a seal.
  • Cut 3 or 4 silts into the top of each pie.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes or until the tops are browned and flakey.
  • Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Yields: 4 2-cup pot pies

Beer & Honey Baby Back Ribs

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Barbecued ribs are about as American as apple pie. But despite their popularity, ribs are one of those controversial foods where everyone thinks their version is the best with other simply falling short of being the real deal. Often your preference for rib style is dependent upon which part of the country you hail from. Ribs can be marinated in either a tomato or vinegar based sauce or it may be coated with a spicy dry rub. Or maybe you start with a dry rub and move onto basting the meat with a sauce as it cooks slowly over a grill. But really, each method will give you different flavor profiles but all –in my opinion– are equally delicious. All you have to do is think outside of the box.

And thinking outside of the box is exactly what I’ve done with this recipe that is based on one found on the Food 52 website. Not only have I skipped the vinegar or tomato argument instead opting for a sauce made of local Belgian ingredients-dark ale and locally produced honey  but I’ve foregone the grill all together. Thats right, I’ve made delicious and melt in your mouth ribs right in the oven. There really isn’t a better way to enjoy a traditionally summer time treat in the dead of winter. But don’t just take my word for how delicious these ribs are; try them for yourself. You just might want to double the recipe since they are that good.

BEER & HONEY BABY BACK RIBS

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

5 pounds baby back ribs, trimmed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1/3 cup honey

12 ounces dark ale

1 bay leaf

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

  •  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Generously season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper. Arrange the ribs in a single layer on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet.
  • Pour the oil into a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for five minutes or until the onion has begun to caramelize.
  • Stir in the mustard, honey, beer and bay leaf. Cook until the mixture is heated through.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and brush it over the ribs, pouring and additional sauce over the top of the ribs.
  • Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the ribs are fork tender and cooked through.
  • Allow the ribs to cook for 10 minutes before slicing and serving topped with any sauce that has accumulated in the pan.

Serves 6

Beer Braised Chicken Thighs

chicken

Chicken braised in wine is called coq au vin. The dish is a class and a favorite in my house. But what about switching out the wine for beer? I say why yes and it especially makes sense here in Belgium where your choices of delicious beer is virtually unlimited. So when I came across this recipe from Cooking Light I knew I had to try it.

This recipe cooks up quickly yet you have all of the rich flavors you would expect in a dish that cooks for a longer period of time. I’ve adapted it by adding additional spices and switching out porter beer for a spicy and flavorful Belgian winter brew. Choose your favorite beer or experiment until you find one that you like. As is the case with cooking with wine, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

BEER BRAISED CHICKEN THIGHS
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
4  bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved
3/4 cup dark porter beer, or other beer of your choice
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • Combine 3 tablespoons of flour, the thyme and the paprika in a large zip topped plastic bag.
  • Sprinkle half of the salt over the chicken then add the chicken to the bag, ensuring that it is coated on all sides.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to pan and swirl to coat.
  • Remove the chicken from flour mixture, discarding the remaining flour mixture.
  • Add the chicken to pan and cook for 4 minutes or until browned.
  • Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from pan. Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms are browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in the remaining flour , the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the beer, stock, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil; cook 2 minutes.
  • Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat and cook, partially covered, 15 minutes or until chicken is done.
  • Sprinkle with parsley.
  • Serve with polenta, noodles or rice.

Serves 4

Twenty-Five Days of Cookies: Cherry Lambic Chocolate Truffles

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Christmas is just nine days (gulp) away and what better way is there to countdown to the big event than to feature a cookie recipe each day? Think of it as a cookie recipe advent calendar. And to fill that advent calendar I’m featuring twenty five of my favorite holiday cookie recipes that are sure to fill your holidays with cheer. Bake them to fill your cookie trays, bring them to a cookie swap or eat them yourself; they are guaranteed to bring about holiday joy. And if you love baking as much as I do, making them is a fun filled gift unto itself. Enjoy!

Some foods are synonymous with a country and here in Belgium beer and chocolate top that culinary list. Walk through any Belgian town and chances are they have both their own brewery (brasserie) and their own chocolate shop. And I must admit that I am a fan of both of these Belgian delights. So what better way to show some national spirit than combing the two into a single treat.

These truffles are adapted from a Food 52 recipe and just one bite will have you hopping on a plane in search of more. Or you can make them yourself since they are quite easy. They are rich and intense without being sweet–my favorite kind of dessert. Be sure to use the best dark chocolate you can find. As far as the beer goes, experiment to find a combination you like. I’m a huge fan of cherry lambic and chocolate but raspberry is also good. Or choose a dark smokey stout which also pairs nicely with the intensity of the chocolate. Do experiment. And most of all, don’t omit the salt since it really brings out all of the flavors.

Here’s a final tip–rolling the chocolate can be an messy endeavor if your hands are warm. I tend to roll four or five truffles at a time then wash and dry my hands before continuing. It makes the process that much easier.

CHERRY LAMBIC CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup cherry lambic beer, or dark beer of your choice

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pinch flaky sea salt

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, for rolling

  • Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce to about 1/4 cup.
  • Add the heavy cream to the beer and return to a boil.
  • Pour the hot cream and beer mixture over chopped chocolate and allow to sit 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir until all chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth.
  • Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Part way through cooling, sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt over mixture and gently stir it in.
  • When you are ready to proceed, using a melon baller, scoop 1-inch balls of the ganache, roll it between your palms until smooth, and then roll in the cocoa powder to coat. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Yields 28 1 inch truffles

Cherry Lambic Chocolate Truffles

IMG_5080

Some foods are synonymous with a country and here in Belgium beer and chocolate top that culinary list. Walk through any Belgian town and chances are they have both their own brewery (brasserie) and their own chocolate shop. And I must admit that I am a fan of both of these Belgian delights. So what better way to show some national spirit than combing the two into a single treat.

These truffles are adapted from a Food 52 recipe and just one bite will have you hopping on a plane in search of more. Or you can make them yourself since they are quite easy. They are rich and intense without being sweet–my favorite kind of dessert. Be sure to use the best dark chocolate you can find. As far as the beer goes, experiment to find a combination you like. I’m a huge fan of cherry lambic and chocolate but raspberry is also good. Or choose a dark smokey stout which also pairs nicely with the intensity of the chocolate. Do experiment. And most of all, don’t omit the salt since it really brings out all of the flavors.

Here’s a final tip–rolling the chocolate can be an messy endeavor if your hands are warm. I tend to roll four or five truffles at a time then wash and dry my hands before continuing. It makes the process that much easier.

CHERRY LAMBIC CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup cherry lambic beer, or dark beer of your choice

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 pinch flaky sea salt

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, for rolling

  • Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heat-proof bowl and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the beer to a simmer over medium-high heat and reduce to about 1/4 cup.
  • Add the heavy cream to the beer and return to a boil.
  • Pour the hot cream and beer mixture over chopped chocolate and allow to sit 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir until all chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth.
  • Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Part way through cooling, sprinkle a pinch of flaky sea salt over mixture and gently stir it in.
  • When you are ready to proceed, using a melon baller, scoop 1-inch balls of the ganache, roll it between your palms until smooth, and then roll in the cocoa powder to coat. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yields 28 1 inch truffles

 

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