Why not try cooking with stout this weekend?
Ireland’s famous black beer isn’t just for drinking, as Jp McMahon explains in The Irish Cookbook
Think of Irish hospitality, and you may, quite reasonably, picture a welcoming, monochrome pint of beer. “Our relationship to alcohol is well known,” writes the Galway chef and author Jp McMahon in The Irish Cookbook. “From Guinness to Baileys and a myriad of fine whiskeys, the reputation of the Irish alcohol industry is second to none.”
But not every drop of black beer ends up in a pint glass. The Irish Cookbook is filled with stout or porter recipes, as this type of beer is known (historically, stout was a stronger version of porter, but today the terms are practically interchangeable.)
Jp’s new book features braised lettuce with beef and stout stock; mussels with stout; pigeon and stout; ham cooked in stout and hay; stout-battered sausages; beef ribs in stout; and beef and stout stew; and there’s a lovely looking porter cake, and a recipe for brown soda bread enriched with stout and treacle, in the baking sections.
Even a few recipes, such as the Irish leftovers stew, coddle, don’t specifically feature any of this beer, though McMahon adds in his notes that, in the past, the dish sometimes contained a few drops of the stuff.
While McMahon respects tradition, he also admires local innovation, and suggest cooks look beyond the beer’s biggest brand-name producer, Guinness, towards newer breweries.
“There are now many alternative stouts being produced around the country,” he writes in his beef and stout stew recipe notes. “I like to use Galway Hooker stout (named after the traditional sailing boat). It is brewed in Oranmore, County Galway."
Meanwhile, when it comes to his porter cake, he opts for chocolate stouts, that “give the cake a beautiful flavour. Galway Bay Brewery’s Buried at Sea is a milk chocolate stout which is great in baking.”
And, if you’re looking for something to begin or finish off your meal, McMahon even includes a recipe for Baby Guinness in his new book. This is “a short cocktail usually drunk as a shot (in one mouthful). It is usually made with Baileys and Kahlula, but it can also be made with Tia Maria and Black Sambuca.” That might be sacrilege for traditional beer drinkers, but it probably reflects contemporary drinking habits, and – more importantly – it sounds like fun. For all these recipes, and much more besides, order a copy of The Irish Cookbook here.