Beer Food: The Mega Dega Dessert

Yesterday, we introduced Gerrard "Mitch" Mitchell of Beersine, the WA-based beer food specialist who is coming on board as The Crafty Pint's in house beer food guru. Mitch is the man exploring the possibilities with beer and food more than anyone else in Australia today.

Below, he shares with us the recipe (in multiple parts) for the dessert he created for this year's Good Beer Week Mega Dega III. This is the event at which the festival unites six top Australian chefs with leading local and international breweries and asks them to create one course each. Mitch was set the challenge of creating something to pair with Nail Brewing's epic, 10 percent-plus imperial Clout Stout and pulled out all the stops with a multi-faceted dish (pictured above) that was a highlight for many in attendance.

It goes by the title "Pear, smoked plum, Carafa jelly, fennel" and features a number of beer ingredients within its various parts. And, given it's quite a mammoth operation for his first offering (well, it is designed to pair with a mammoth beer, after all), we also asked for some of his favourite beer and food pairings, both to give you something simple to play with and to gain an insight into Mitch.


Five simple beer & food pairings

A few of my favourite matches would be:

  • Steaks on the BBQ with a brown ale or a rauch (smoke beer)
  • I love a bit of spice so a curry with an IPA is heaven; I know that it accentuates the heat but that’s the way I like it
  • Cheese and saisons or most farmhouse ales/lambics pretty much go hand in hand.
  • Simple seafood with Berliner Weisse
  • Or any great, fresh beer with mates.

The Mega Dega III Dessert

Mitch from Beersine

I’ve created this dish to match one of Australia’s best beers and, in this chef's humble opinion, the best Russian Imperial Stout in Oz. Nail Brewing's Clout Stout is a beast of a beer with coffee and dark fruits all the way through and I wanted to show those flavours off while also giving some contrast with some other flavours. I chose wild fennel and plums that I gave a bit of smokiness to.

This recipe has several elements, some of which can be prepared a few days in advance so as to make sure you’re not stuck in a kitchen all day. If you don’t have Clout Stout then Nail's Oatmeal Stout is its little brother, while Feral Boris or Hargreaves Hill's excellent R.I.S would also work. You could also head towards English style barley wines as well if that’s what’s around or tickling your fancy.

There’s a couple of malts and hops in this dish that any good home brew shop should have or, if you live near a brewery, go and ask them for some. Brewers are lovely folk and I’ve found bribes of food work very well with them all.

The below will feed 6 to 10 people.

Amber malt sponge

  • 230 gm salted butter
  • 230 gm castor sugar
  • 210 gms eggs (free range, of course)
  • 230 gm self raising flour
  • 30 gm ground amber malt, I put mine through my smoothie maker. It can’t just be used for healthy stuff, can it now!
  • 2 tbsp warm water or beer, which ever is closer.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees centigrade. Butter an 18 cm loaf tin and place aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together til light and fluffy, slowly add the beaten eggs bit by bit adding a tsp of flour if the eggs start to curdle the butter mix. Once all the eggs are added, carefully fold in the flour and malt. It should have a dropping consistency – if not add the water/beer. Place in your prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. This may take a bit longer or shorter depending on your oven.


Poached pears

  • 3 pears peeled and cut in half, core left in.
  • 1 bottle or can of stout
  • 4 cardamom pods crushed with the side of a knife
  • Handful of brown sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod split and scrapped out

Place everything except the pears in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer taking care that the carbonation of the stout doesn’t make the pot over boil. Reduce for around 15 minutes then place pears in liquid, making sure the pears are covered. Cook til just soft enough that a knife goes in then remove from heat and cool in liquid. I do loads of these and store them in jars in the fridge, great with a bit of clotted cream on a cold night.

NB For the Mega Dega, Mitch added some of his Brettanomyces chilli sauce to this element of the dish, blended with the smoked plum to form a purée.


Carafa pastry cream

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod split and scraped
  • 50 gm castor sugar
  • 30 gm flour
  • 300 ml full fat milk.
  • 1 tbsp milled Carafa T2 malt. You could use coffee as a substitute if needs be.

Warm milk to just under a simmer or approx 65 degrees, remove milk from the heat stir in the malt and leave to sit for five minutes.

Cream yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add flour and mix thoroughly, strain milk mix onto egg mix and whisk together. Put mix back on heat and gently cook out til thick. You may need to whisk smooth or, if you're making larger quantities, you could place in a food processor. Once thickened, pour onto a tray that’s been lined with cling film and place in fridge to set.


Clout Stout being served at Good Beer Week's Mega Dega – credit Andrew Smith of Craft EverythingHop meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225 gm castor sugar
  • 90 gm water
  • 2 to 4 grams hop flowers chopped finely. Not pellets. Aim for around 6 to 10 percent alpha acids (ask the brew shop / brewer if this sounds like a foreign language)
  • You’ll need a hand or stand mixer for this and a sugar thermometer.

Place the egg whites in your bowl ensuring it’s free from any oils or fats.

Put sugar and water onto a high heat and take the temperature to 110 degrees, then start whisking your egg whites when your sugar gets to 120 degrees or “soft ball”; slowly pour the mix into egg whites being careful to pour the mix into the whites not on the whisk or yourself. Add the hop flowers and keep whisking till cooled. There will be a bit extra but that’s never really bothered me having extra meringue in the house!!


Smoked plums

I do these when plums are in season and store them for use later on. I find a slightly greener plum is better as a contrast however if you prefer sweeter ones then go for it. I warm smoke til they start to fall apart with a couple of chillies in there as well then puree and pass through a strainer. You could just get a really good quality plum jam but there won’t be the smoke element to the dish.

At home, I use a Texas style offset smoker with wood and spent grains. You could also put an old pot or tray on the BBQ with the grains in the bottom and a cake rack on the top, then place the plums on that and cover the whole lot with foil.


Fennel sherbet

  • 1 tsp citric acid
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle

Mix all together and reserve.


Serving

To assemble the dessert, slice the cake into serving size, remove the core from the pear and place on top, cut a piece of the pastry cream and lay over the top. Next, smooth some meringue over the top and finish with a big dollop of the plum puree then sprinkle over sherbet.


So there you go: an epic dessert for an epic beer (and a few ideas for elements that could make up other dishes). This year's Clout Stout should be out soon while we'll be back with more from Mitch next month.

Thanks to Andrew Smith at Craft Everything for the photo from the Mega Dega.


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