Beer and food matching: Shout about stout

Related tags Stout

STOUT AND shellfish is a classic match, and so it was no surprise that some of our beer and food panel looked to the oceans when asked to come up...

STOUT AND shellfish is a classic match, and so it was no surprise that some of our beer and food panel looked to the oceans when asked to come up with a dish to go with a pint of the black stuff this time around. However, there were plenty of other interesting ideas as well…

Ben Bartlett, catering development manager, Marston's Pub Company: ​A traditional dish to go with stout is lobby. It was originally eaten by potters from North Staffordshire and South Cheshire who were poor and didn't always have enough money for fresh ingredients. Lobby has no official recipe because it is known as a 'throw in' or 'chuck in' recipe. The traditional lobby contained left-over meat, some animal bones, diced onion and other vegetables lobbed in to maximise the flavour - all boiled in a pot. Sometimes Marmite, Worcester-shire sauce and pearl barley are added as a way to add flavour to the dish. Then, gerrit dine yer neck!

John Keeling, Fuller's head brewer​: There's an urban myth that you could live on stout alone, so maybe it doesn't require a food match at all! The smoky flavours you find in stouts would complement smoked foods quite well, either a strong smoked fish or perhaps a German cheese. I've also experienced some quite good matches with chocolate puddings or rich deserts.

Phil Vickery, chef and broadcaster​: The classic has to be fresh oysters - made famous by our Irish friends and very good it is too. But I reckon the match can be extended to simply wine-steamed mussels with a little smoked bacon and loads of fresh chopped parsley, accompanied by half a pint of stout. Alternatively, a deep-flavoured, coarse wood pigeon and hare pâté, sweetened with a little port and served with an earthy flavoured toast such as prune and onion bread, would also work very well in my opinion.

Melissa Cole, beer writer:​ Russian Imperial, English Milk or Irish Dry - stout is truly a marvel of brewing alchemy, its deep ruby depths yielding the most amazing array of flavours and aromas from gentle caramel to gooey molasses.

There is an array of stout-friendly dishes which spring instantly to mind - beef & stout suet pie, deep rich mutton stews and, of course, sausages & colcannon - but I think its unsung partner is Cajun food. Forget your overly creamy draught or canned Guinness and pop a bottle of Original in the fridge and, while you're getting your marinade ready for those ribs, sacrifice some of your drinking pleasure for the ultimate caramelised crust on your meat when you whack it on the barbecue or griddle pan.

For the chocoholics why not serve Sam Smith's Imperial Stout with a cardamom-infused 70 per cent cocoa pot and see how it makes the spice in both the beer and the dessert sing. And when it comes to English milk stout, such as Mackeson's, don't think of using anything else in your Christmas puds - they will never be as dark or rich.

Paul Drye, catering development manager, St Austell Brewery​: Matching food to go with stout couldn't be easier, from oysters to bitter chocolate and strong cheddar to Christmas pud... stout works wonders! If you drink enough of it, it even takes the bitter edge off losing your shirt at Cheltenham.

My favourite dish to eat with a good stout has got to be steak and oyster pudding, a great British standard that is truly a jewel in our culinary crown. Serve this with the first crop of new potatoes and a glass of Cornish Cream stout for a heavenly combination. If you're not in Cornwall, a locally brewed stout near you will fit the bill just fine.

Rupert Ponsonby, Beer Academy​: When I hear the word 'stout', I see visions of heaps of oysters, reclining on beds of seaweed, and enlivened by the occasional zesty lemon. But to make this wonderful pairing really work, I find that hunks of brown soda-bread are critical to mop up the oysters' liquor and to act as a bridge between the oysters and the stout. If any butter is spread on the soda bread, it should be unsalted, so as to lessen the saltiness of the combo and add a creamy quality to the mix. Failing oysters, venison is my preferred choice for stout or porter, as it's a wonderful full-flavoured (ridiculously cheap) meat which mirrors stouts' dry, yeasty meatiness; and they hit it off brilliantly.

Next month: What's wondrous with wheat beer?

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