COOKING WITH BEER – CRAIL FOOD FESTIVAL 2014
- Beery Mac ‘n’ cheese in St. Andrew Brewing Co.
- Mussels cooked in St. Andrews Brewing Co. Crail Ale
- Venison shank braised in Eden Brewery beer
- Eden Brewery ‘Shipwrecked’ Beer Battered Pollock with homemade tartar sauce and minted mushy broad beans
WE ARE EXTREMELY fortunate to have two of Scotland’s finest craft breweries in Fife. The St. Andrews Brewing Company and The Eden Brewery are two beer producers Scotland can be extremely proud of and for this year’s Crail Food Festival, I was charged with creating a dish with beer as a key ingredient.
It was a tough task spending hours tasting beers I must admit, but somebody had to do it! I was fortunate that the Crail Food Festival gave me the opportunity to visit both breweries and get an insight into how these master brewers concoct their superb range of brews. The passion for quality beer was apparent in both camps, and it was great to hear of the success both have enjoyed in the relatively short time their respective businesses has been trading.
The St. Andrews Brewing Company, in partnership with local restaurateur Tim Butler, recently expanded by opening up their own tap house, offering 16 different artisanal beers on tap and a tasty tapas menu to compliment them. Initially owner Bob Phaff found it difficult to find premises actually in St. Andrews, so started brewing in an industrial unit in Glenrothes. With one of his main goals to be located in the University town, Bob has recently obtained suitable premises and gets the keys just a few weeks before The Crail Food Festival.
Meanwhile the demand for beers from The Eden Brewery has been so great that they are expanding their premises in Guardbridge, increasing production hours and taking on more staff. General Manager Kevan Fraser invited me to join a tour of the brewery, which includes an insight into the history of brewing in St. Andrews and an excellent (and rather generous!) beer tasting session.
So what exactly did I come up with? It was too difficult to choose between The Eden Brewery and the St. Andrews Brewing Company for one individual dish, so I came up with the idea of some Fife-inspired tapas-style sharing plates using a couple of beers from both camps.
With the East Neuk being famous for fish and chips, I had to include a tapa with a nod to this most iconic Scottish dish. I give you *drum roll please* The Eden Brewery’s “Shipwrecked” beer battered pollock with minted mushy broad beans and home-made tartar sauce. Although cod supplies have been improving recently, I still favour using Pollock; it’s more sustainable and better value for money.
RECIPE – Shipwrecked beer battered Pollock
Ingredients (serves four):
2x Pollock fillets (I always advise buying fish from your local fishmonger, but it not, look for MSC accredited fish)
1x bottle of “Shipwrecked” from The Eden Brewery
250g self-raising flour, sifted
Tbsp rapeseed oil
Sunflower or vegetable oil to deep fry
250g broad beans, podded
75g Parmegianno Reggiano, grated
Few sprigs of mint
Veg stock to cover
Salt and pepper
For Tartar Sauce
150ml Mayonnaise (or make your own!)
25 g capers, finely chopped
25g gherkins, finely chopped
½ carrot very finely chopped
25g of chopped parsley
Turn fryer on to 200C. First, make the batter, as it will need time to rest. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, the rapeseed oil and add the beer. When mixing, I like to leave little lumps of flour as they pop when frying and help make it light, so roughly mix and allow to rest for 15 mins in the fridge (you could make this a day in advance).
Bring some water to the boil and cook the broad beans for 1-2 mins. Drain, add mint and parmesan and pulse in a food processor until broken down to a mushy pea like consistency.
For the tartar sauce, mix all ingredients together and season to taste.
Next, cut the Pollock fillets into bite size chunks. Coat pieces in the batter and carefully place into fryer for 1 ½-2 mins until golden.
Serve in terracotta tapas dishes and dig in!
The St. Andrews Brewing Company’s Crail Ale was actually created to celebrate the 2012 Crail Food Festival and has went on to win several awards, which include regional winner of Sainsbury’s ‘Great British Beer Hunt.’ Winning this prestigious award saw Bob’s company granted a six-month contract with the supermarket giant. Such has been the success of the Crail Ale, it is now being stocked indefinitely – a great achievement for the man who ‘brews, bottles and labels by hand, on his own’. With its fruity, citrus flavour I reckoned this would go perfectly with one of my favourite summer time lunches – Scottish mussels.
RECIPE – Scottish Mussels
500g Scottish mussels, washed and de-bearded
1x shallot, diced
1x garlic clove
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
1x bottle of Crail Ale.
Crusty bread for serving
Salt and pepper
1) In a saucepan, sweat the onion in a little oil (make sure you have a lid close by)
2) When softened, add the garlic for one minute, then toss in the mussels.
3) Add the beer and quickly put the lid on the pot. Shake vigourously for 2-3 minutes until the mussels have opened. Make sure to discard any that do not open.
4) Serve in a big bowl with some crusty bread for an ideal summer tapas dish.
The next dish is venison shank slow-cooked in beer, which I came up with after visiting Eden’s Sunday stall at Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Market. I had picked up some venison shanks at another stall, and the butcher suggested I try braising the meat in their Barley Wine beer. The dish was a resounding success and I really like the idea of having people taking meat from the bone and sharing it, almost pulled-venison style. Venison is such an underused and healthy meat and I hope this simple recipe will get people cooking it more often. The Barley Wine variety is currently out of production until November, but the chocolaty notes from Eden Brewery’s Bourbon Cask works equally as well. Be sure to choose some Seriously Good Venison for some of Fife’s finest venison.
RECIPE: Venison Shank Slow-cooked in Beer
2x venison shanks
1x celery stick
1x tsp tomato puree
2x bottles of Bourbon Cask
Chicken stock to cover.
Salt and pepper
In a hot frying pan, brown the shanks all over then set aside. Roughly chop the onion, carrot and celery and brown in the same pan. Adding the tomato puree after 2-3 mins and cook for a further minute.
Remove the vegetables and deglaze the pan with the beer, bring to the boil.
Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and allow to cook for 2 ½ – 3 hours or until tender.
Let the venison rest for 10 mins, and reduce the cooking liquor down in a pan. Place shanks into a big dish, pour over the gravy and serve.
When I was doing my research for this article, I looked at St. Andrews Brewing Company’s Tap House menu and was rather intrigued by the ‘beer mac & cheese’ offering. As it happened, I required a vegetarian option to go with the other three dishes and was keen to use Anster cheese in one of my recipes – what better way to do so?
RECIPE – Beer Mac & Cheese
Ingredients (serves 4):
65g plain flour
1x ‘The Wee Blonde’ beer
Tsp Dijon mustard
200g Anster cheese, grated
150g Isle of Mull cheddar, grated
Salt and pepper
Turn on the grill to a high heat and boil the kettle. Cook the macaroni in well –seasoned, boiling water for around 8-10 minutes or until soft with a slight bite. Drain and set aside.
Next, make the cheesy beer sauce. Melt the butter and add the flour to make a roux. Beat thoroughly for 1-2 mins to cook out the flour. Gradually add the beer and milk, whisking thoroughly as you go. Once the mixture resembles a sauce, add the mustard and the cheese (reserve some for grilling) and mix through until melted. Check seasoning.
Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix. Fill individual tapas dishes with the mixture (or use one big dish) and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Place under a grill for a couple of minutes until a crispy top forms and serve.
I hope these recipes inspire you not only to cook with beer, but to appreciate some of the great brewing we have going on in Fife at the moment. I mentioned that the passion these guys have for their work, and for me, like most small food producers, it really comes across in their work. Please visit St. Andrew’s Brewing Company and The Eden Brewery during your visit to the Crail Food Festival, and always remember the golden rule when cooking with beer – always save a glass for the chef!