Black beer for St. Patrick's Day | Chef Dez

By Chef Dez | Mar 16, 2016

My annual salute to the Irish always includes a pint of Guinness Beer, a delicious black stout from Dublin, Ireland.

This full-bodied beer has a considerably smooth finish despite its bold characteristics –and is delightful to drink anytime of the year.

Although there are many fans of this traditional ale, there are just as many cynics due to its dominant taste.

I have determined, however, that even people who don't drink beer can appreciate the unique taste of Guinness when used in cooking.

I always question a recipe when it calls for water to be added. Why not add wine, broth, juice, or even beer? How much flavor does water have? Zero. If you want a dish to taste wonderful, and full of flavor, could you not add something that has more distinction than water?

I have always preached creativity and improvisation when it comes to preparing a meal.

Guinness beer is a very clever way to add flavor intricacy to a dish, especially when the recipe involves red meat. The hearty flavor of red meat holds up nicely when married with the boldness of Guinness, whereas the taste of fish would most likely be lost.

A beef stew, for example, made with a combination of beef broth and Guinness beer is incredible. The full-flavored dark, almost black, broth will not only have people guessing, but it will also have them requesting a second helping!

With this knowledge in hand, think of the endless possibilities of recipe modifications you can now carry out. Try Guinness in beef gravy, Shepherd's pie, casseroles, soups, stroganoff or even your next beef and tomato spaghetti sauce, to name a few.

You can even try marinating an inexpensive, tough cut of beef in Guinness. You will be amazed at the results.

The flavor and darkness of this beer comes from the selected hops and roasting of malt barley, similar to the way coffee beans are roasted. Although Guinness representatives claim that the color of their beer is actually a deep ruby red, black is most popularly used to describe the obscurity of this beer.

The smoothness is supposedly from the pure water obtained from natural springs fed by the St. James well.

In modern day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been celebrated as a religious holiday.

It was up until the 1970s that Irish law banned the opening of pubs on the 17th of March. So this St. Patrick's Day, one may find it more fitting to raise your fork or spoon (instead of a glass) in a toast to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

However, let's also make a point of remembering Arthur Guinness, who set up his brewery in Dublin, Ireland in 1759, by signing a nine-thousand-year lease. Thank you, Arthur!

If you are interested in traveling to Ireland (or other destinations) with Chef Dez, you can now do so through his exclusive Chef Dez Culinary Tours. Trips include Savannah, Ga. this year, Ireland and Scotland next year, and Atlantic Canada in 2018.

Chef Dez is a food columnist, culinary travel host and cookbook author. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Write to him at dez@chefdez.com or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4.

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