With the opening of the Olympic Games this coming Friday, and the handful of sun-kissed days revealing the first signs of spring, I’ve been inspired to share some of my favourite bar snack-and-beer pairings with you.
There is nothing better than sipping a crisp, ice-cold beer with something deliciously salty to help it go down.
I must confess that I’m no beer connoisseur, but I love trying new things, especially different flavour combinations, and these have become some of my favourite snacks to enjoy with a chilled pint.
Tip: Read Andy Fenner's take on the local artisinal beer-making business
LAGER TO LINGER LONGER - OLE!
South Africa’s best-loved pale lagers have a gorgeous golden colour with a smooth, dense head. The tasting notes include a variety of zesty grassy and citrusy flavours, making lager the beer of choice for the ultimate refreshment.
I’m a sucker for all things Mexican and I love making my own chilli poppers at home. I stock up on lagers so there are always a few cold ones in the fridge when I serve this dish.
The light, zesty citrus flavours cut right through the richness of the cheese and the sweetness of the beer goes perfectly with the popper's spicy flavours.
MAKE CHILLI POPPERS
This recipe for chilli poppers is actually my good friends Lauren's version and the only way I have ever made them.
Drain a jar of pickled jalapeños. Carefully make a slit with a sharp knife along the length of the chilli and scrape out all of the seeds to remove the extra heat.
Grate equal amounts of Cheddar and mozzarella, combine then use to stuff the chillis (you can add fried bacon bits or cream cheese if you like, as many do Stateside).
Defrost spring roll wrappers (available from Asian stores) or phyllo pastry and cut squares in half to make two triangles, fold the point of the triangle to the meet the middle of the long side of the triangle to make a strip.
Starting at one end of the strip roll your jalapeños to fit snugly in the pastry. Lightly brush the edges with water, secure and seal.
Heat canola oil in a saucepan. Test if the oil is hot enough by dropping a piece of pastry into the oil - if it sizzles and browns you can get started.
Carefully fry the poppers in batches until golden and crispy and remove with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot with lots of sweet chilli dipping sauce.
Tip: you can also dip the stuffed poppers in flour, then buttermilk, then breadcrumbs before frying for a more crumbly outside.
THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL & BACON BURGER
When it comes to darker beers, I prefer milk stout made with roasted malts or barley because they’re so luxuriously rich and creamy. I’ve become quite partial to their light-coloured head, bold body and slight sweetness.
Burgers topped with crispy bacon are the perfect pairing for this creamy beer. The success of this bacon means on using the best possible bacon you can afford. I love dry-cured streaky bacon – the smoky flavours really stand out.
The best way to cook the bacon is to arrange it on a rack on a baking tray and oven-roast it, turning once, until it’s bubbling with flavour and gloriously crispy.
Stack it onto your favourite beef burger patty (Woolies has a devine range if you're all out of time) with a generous dollop of mayonnaise, butter lettuce and wafer thin slices of gherkins and serve between the slices of a powdery Portuguese roll. Heaven.
Tip: Read how Luke Dale-Roberts cooks with his favourite beers and more about my obsession with the perfect burger.
LIQUID GOLD WITH DUMPLING DELIGHT
South African pale ales also boast a lovely golden, toffee-like colour and an impressive full head. With a subtle honey and fruity undertone, they are usually tangy with a dry finish, making them the ideal partner to drink when eating fragrant pork dumplings.
Pork dim sum have just the right amount of salty flavour that goes so well with beer. Whenever I prepare a pork belly roast and there are leftovers, I make this Asian-inspired mixture for dumplings.
Place ¼ cup soya sauce in a saucepan with 2 T brown sugar, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 1 x 5 cm piece grated fresh ginger and 1 chopped chilli.
Bring to a simmer and stir in 2 T honey and a good squeeze of lime or lemon juice or two tablespoons of rice wine vinegar.
When the sauce has thickened, shred in the leftover pork belly and stir to coat nicely. Spoon the mixture into wonton wrappers and pan-fry them to make pot-stickers, or steam them to make classic pork dumplings.
You could also roll the filling into wonton wrapers to make spring rolls and bake them. (This is also a great way to use up left over stir-fry).
Serve with soya sauce, chopped spring onion and rice wine vinegar.
Let the games begin!
What's your favourite bit-size snack? Email me at Hannah.Lewry@newmediapub.co.za
MORE FROM HANNAH