A weekly beer + food column to support the launch of CAMRA’s new podcast, Pubs. Pints. People. You can tune in each week on Apple Podcast or Spotify or simply visit https://shows.acast.com/pubspintspeople/
By Sue Nowak, Food Editor
When we talk about beers having a fruity note we generally mean it’s one element in the overall flavour – such as citrus, or that hint of banana in a Bavarian Weisse. A beer made with fruit is a totally different proposition and, to my palate, far superior to a fruit wine; where the wine is generally too sweet and often syrupy, beer, with hops in its armoury, can balance the sweetness of the fruit and achieve quite a dry, sophisticated character that goes with main courses and desserts alike. Two of my favourites are raspberry and cherry and both are natural partners for lamb, which has a sweetness of its own – the raspberry is lighter and more summery while cherry beer is altogether darker and heavier in tone. Pictured is my very special bottle of cherry beer, Tamar Kriek, 7.3% ABV brewed by St Austell’s Brewery in Cornwall in the style of the ‘sour red beers of East Flanders’, then matured in oak casks, using cherries picked in the Tamar Valley. Obviously this was a limited edition but both raspberry and, especially, cherry beers are available in supermarkets. The new season’s lamb is now at its best, and a summer’s day the best time to enjoy it.
Lamb chops with raspberry beer
One medium thick lamb chop (or steak) per person; unsalted butter for frying; one small red onion finely chopped; one clove garlic, crushed; a sprig of fresh (or one tsp dried) rosemary; 300ml (half pint) raspberry beer; redcurrant jelly; one level dstsp plain flour; 300ml (half pint) stock (could use chicken cube); salt and black pepper.
Melt butter gently in a frying pan and when it starts to bubble add the lamb chops or steaks; increase the heat and brown swiftly on both sides, then lower the heat again and add the onion and garlic. Fry gently until softened but not brown. Remove the lamb when it is cooked to your liking – just a few minutes for very rare, a few more for medium or about 10 minutes for well done but with just a hint of pink in the centre or it would be too dry. Rest the lamb chops somewhere warm. To make the gravy, pour the raspberry beer into a small pan and heat gently to simmering point; meanwhile pour off any excess fat – lamb chops can be very fatty – then stir the flour into the onions to create a smooth roux, add the rosemary, and stir in the beer little by little to achieve a fairly thin gravy. Add a level tbsp of redcurrant jelly, which gives a lovely sheen as well as a tangy flavour. Season to taste.
Serve the chops on a pool of gravy, with small new potatoes and a green vegetable such as asparagus, peas or leeks sliced lengthways. Cheers – and bon appétit.
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