There’s a reason the majority of the world’s beer is brewed with malted barley.
It affects the colour, flavour and texture of the finished product. Malt just makes beer taste better. If you’ve ever tried Nepalese chang (a mug of fermented millet with boiling water poured over it) you might agree with me.
Many people, though, can’t tolerate the gluten in craft beers, so this article is for them.
There are currently three gluten-free beers made commercially in New Zealand, by Scotts in Oamaru, Kereru in Upper Hutt and The Nuts Brewing Company in Christchurch. This exciting new discovery is a lager brewed with chestnuts. It might be a little subtle for use in the recipe below, but I’ll bet fellow chestnut fans will be able to put it to good use.
I don’t know much about the commercial aspects of beer production, but assume that to make a niche market product like gluten-free beer involves financial risk. Kereru’s latest batch was funded en primeur (to use a winemaking term) through Pledge Me crowd funding. What a great concept, for the producer and the consumer alike. In May when the batch was bottled, Kereru delivered a delicious golden ale to investors at a lower than retail price.
Beer is a vital ingredient in the classic Belgian stew carbonnade. While it is usually made with stronger Belgian ale, the subtle flavour that gluten-free beer imparts is also lovely. I chose to use beef cheeks and they cooked well, as would any casserole cut.
It is a versatile recipe. If you replaced the beef with chicken pieces and used cider instead of beer you would have a classic Alsace-style chicken dish. When cooking gluten free, always remember to read product labels for hidden gluten in ingredients like stock cubes, to avoid last-minute embarrassment. Organic vegetable stock cubes are usually safe, or better still, use homemade meat or vegetable stock.
BELGIAN STEW CARBONNADE
1.5 kg of diced beef
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 kg thinly sliced onions
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
3 tablespoons g.f. cornflour
330 mls g.f. beer
1 ½ cups g.f. stock
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
a small bunch of parsley, finely
Preheat the oven to 100°c.
Toss the diced beef in the salt and pepper to taste. Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef in batches.
Remove the meat and sauté the onions until golden.
Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes, then stir in the cornflour and cook until it is absorbed.
Next stir in the beer, stock and all other ingredients except the mustard and parsley, which are added just before serving.
Bring the sauce to a simmer on the stovetop then cover and cook in the preheated oven for 2 ½ hours.
This recipe can be made up to three days in advance and stored refrigerated until required.
Reheat slowly on the stovetop, stir in the mustard and sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Serve with green vegetables, a large bowl of your favourite root vegetable mash, and your chosen beer.