Entertaining | How about having a New Year's Eve beer dinner for a change?


How about having a New Year's Eve beer dinner for a change?

If you haven’t already made your plans for New Year’s Eve why not invite over a few friends and treat them to a beer dinner instead of one based on wine? It’s a great way to open their eyes to the great range of artisanal beers that are now available.

This suggested menu comes An Appetite for Ale, the award-winning book that my son Will and I wrote a few years ago.. Do dip into it for other beer-friendly recipes and pairings.

French-style chicken liver paté with cognac

Well, not a lot of cognac, if truth be told but it just gives the recipe that extra pzazz. I like the French way of making chicken liver paté better than the Italian way - it’s more mellow with beer

Serves 4-6 (you could also add some other charcuterie if you like)

225g fresh, free range chicken livers
100g butter at room temperature + an extra 25g for the topping
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
4 fresh bayleaves
A couple of sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp cognac or other brandy
Salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of allspice
A few coloured or black peppercorns for decoration (optional)

Pick through the chicken livers cutting away any bits of sinew or greenish patches and cut them into cubes. Heat 25g of the butter in a saucepan, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook gently for about 5 minutes until they are soft. Add one of the bayleaves, the thyme and the chicken livers, turn up the heat and fry, stirring for about 3 minutes until the chicken livers are browned on all sides.

Take the pan off the heat and cool. Remove the bayleaf and thyme and tip the livers, onion and garlic into a food processor. Whizz until smooth then add another 75g of butter, cut into cubes and whizz again. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of allspice, add the brandy and whizz a final time.

Spoon the mixture into a small pot and smooth over the surface. Heat the remaining butter gently and spoon off the milky layer that rises to the surface. Pour the clear butter over the surface of the paté and decorate with the remaining bay leaves and peppercorns, if using.

Transfer the paté to the fridge for at least a couple of hours then return to room temperature before serving with plain or melba toast (thick slices of bread, toasted then cut in half horizontally and the exposed sides grilled to create deliciously thin, crispy toast)

Suggested beer match: This is a very beer-friendly recipe but goes particularly well with strong pale ales like Anchor Liberty and American IPAs. Try it with a Belgian tripel too

Carbonnade of beef with Orval

One of the striking things about cooking with beer is that you can afford to use your best bottles to cook with. This is based on a recipe in the splendid Everyone Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook by Ruth Van Waerebeek. Like most stews it tastes even better if made a day ahead and reheated

Serves 6

1.25kg leg of beef
3 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3-4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
25g butter
450g onions, peeled and sliced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or a pinch of dried thyme
1 bayleaf
250ml beef stock
330ml Orval or other dark Trappist beer
1 tbsp demerara or brown sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove any excess (but not all) fat and connective tissue from the meat, pat dry and cut into generous cubes. Put the flour in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Toss the meat in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the meat in batches until well browned, transferring it to a casserole as you finish each batch. Add extra oil if needed. Once the meat is browned melt the butter in the pan, add the onions, stir well and cook over a moderate heat until beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Stir in the thyme and bayleaf, tip the onions onto the meat and stir well. Add the beef stock and Orval to the casserole, stir, bring to the boil then half cover the pan and simmer very slowly for about 2 1/2 hours until the meat is completely tender. Stir in the sugar and vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and serve with baked or boiled potatoes.

Suggested beer match: Orval is the obvious choice but any dark trappist ale would do.

Bakewell tart

It stands to reason that raspberry flavoured beer should go with a dessert made with almonds and raspberries. But just how well you wouldn’t believe.

Serves 6

110g unsalted butter
3 large free-range eggs
110g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
2 level tbsp plain flour, sifted
1 level tsp almond essence
6-7 tbsp soft set raspberry jam
225g fresh or frozen raspberries
25g flaked almonds

For the pastry
250g plain flour
2 tbsp icing sugar
125g chilled butter
1 large egg yolk (+ the white, lightly beaten)
Pinch of salt

You will need a deep flan tin 23-25cm wide

First make the pastry. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, cut the butter into the flour then rub lightly with your fingertips until the mixture is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Mix the egg yolk with 2 tbsp ice cold water, add to the pastry mix, mix lightly and pull together into a ball, adding extra water if needed. Shape into a flat disc and refrigerate for at least half an hour. (You can also, of course make this in a food processor).

Roll out the pastry into a circle large enough to fit the tin with a bit of overlap. Carefully lower the pastry into the tin, pressing it lightly into the sides and cut off the excess pastry round the edges. Prick the base lightly and chill the pastry case for 10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line the pastry case with foil and bake for 10-12 minutes then remove the foil and brush the base of the pastry case with the reserved egg white. Return to the oven for another 3-4 minutes then set aside for a couple of minutes while you make the filling.

Slowly melt the butter in a small saucepan. Whisk or beat the eggs with the sugar until light and frothy then add the ground almonds, sifted flour, almond essence and melted butter. Spoon the jam onto the base of the tart and spread evenly. Scatter over the raspberries in an even layer then pour over the topping. Bake at 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 for about 40 minutes until risen and nicely browned, scattering the almonds over the surface 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve warm with double cream.

Suggested beer match: My dream beer with this would be New Glarus Raspberry Tart from Wisconsin but any raspberry beer would do nicely

If you're more into wine try this New Year's Eve dinner for wine lovers or, if you looking for inspiration Five Easy Ways to Impress your Friends and Family this New Year's Eve.

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