Beer and Food Pairing with Red Onion Restaurant

I am a firm believer that beer pairs with food just as well, if not better, than wine. There are so many different beer styles, with a vast range of flavours that can compliment all kinds of dishes from sweet to savoury. Thankfully I’m not alone in this thinking and John Quigley from Red Onion Restaurant also agrees. John has had an incredible life in food, starting off as a chef in a London restaurant to becoming a private chef to the stars including Tina Turner and Bryan Adams and the incredible Guns n Roses, where he learnt to cater to all sorts of weird and wonderful dietary requirements. He now owns Red Onion restaurant in Glasgow, just up from the city centre on West Campbell Street. He specialises in catering for all dietary requirements – he has a full menu for vegan and gluten-free guests as well as the regular menu, featuring classics like steak and bang bang chicken. Last weekend, he was doing a Facebook live cook-a-long for Glasgow Pantry, sharing the recipes for on those very two dishes and invited me along via Zoom to share my thoughts on what beers would work best to accompany them both.

Bang Bang Chicken

This is a firm favourite in the restaurant – a light, spicy and zingy salad with a peanut dressing and fresh lime and mint. On hearing what goes into making Bang Bang chicken, I immediately thought of lager, in particular, a Pilsner. I chose Merchant City Brewing‘s Pilsner because not only are they a Glasgow-based brewery and I wanted to keep it local, but their Pilsner is a fantastic example of the style. It’s very light, with quite a lot of lemon coming through in the aroma which would help to amplify the citrus in the salad. The bitterness cuts through the creamy peanut dressing to sharpen the flavours and it’s extremely refreshing to help cool your mouth from the chilli heat.

My second option was for those who maybe aren’t quite beer converts yet, or are craving a cocktail but can’t be bothered with the faff of making them at home. Mojito Sour is from another Glasgow brewery, Ride Brewing. This is brewed with lime zest in the boil and mint and lime is added at the end. The result is pretty much exactly like drinking a mojito! I was a little worried it was just going to taste like just another fruity sour, but was delighted when the focus really was getting that mojito taste, with only a slightly sour note. Mint, lime….I needn’t really say more on why this worked so well with the Bang Bang.

Steak with Creamed Spinach and Sauté Potatoes

Steak and red wine are a match made in heaven. But you can pair beer with red wine too! The rich flavours you associate with red wine – dark fruits, a tannin bitterness and a little sweetness, can all be found in beer, albeit from different raw ingredients. I’ve looked at two beer styles depending on what kind of wine you like.

Those who like a deep, rich and smooth red like a Cab Suav, could try a stout or porter. You’d be best getting one with no adjuncts that will alter the tatse. Porters tend to be slightly sweeter and less bitter than stouts so depending on your preference, you could pick either. I chose Elemental by Tempest which is a lovely, decadent porter with loads of dry, rich and dark fruits with a slight bitter chocolate aftertaste. The bold flavours really stand up to the steak and the dryness provides a nice contrast to the creamed spinach and potatoes.

Alternatively, if you prefer a spicier red with lighter fruits (like a Merlot maybe?! My wine knowledge is very limited…), then a rye beer is for you. I LOVE this Red Rye by Barney’s in Edinburgh. Rye gives a lovely, spicy, peppercorn note and it has a rich, almost umami, meaty depth of flavour. This combined with lighter fruits and a slight sweetness results in a whirlwind of flavour captured in this unassuming beer.

You can watch the full cook-a-long here

Roast Vegetable and Garlic Puff Pastry Pizza


Ingredients

5-6 tomatoes
Tomato puree
Mixed herbs
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Green pepper
Aubergine
Courgette
Garlic (I used 5 cloves)
Puff pastry
Mozzarella
Red onion

Method

To make the sauce, chop the tomatoes and add to a pan with a dollop of tomato puree, mixed herbs, garlic powder, olive oil and seasoning. You can also add a bit of chili or BBQ sauce for a kick. Let simmer until the tomatoes have reduced to a thick liquid.

While the tomatoes are reducing, chop the pepper, courgette, aubergine and garlic into small chunks. Add to a baking tray with a glug of oil and salt. Mix together so the vegetables are coated and roast on about 200°c for 40 minutes or until they’re well roasted.

Once the vegetables and sauce are ready, roll out the pastry and smother over the sauce. Add the vegetables and sliced mozzarella and red onions. Return to the oven for another 20-30 mins until ready.

Port Charlotte Peated Whisky BBQ Ribs

The peatiness from the whisky adds a real depth of smokey flavour to your BBQ sauce. You could try this recipe with any peated whisky but I think Port Charlotte works particularly well because it’s got a much less medicinal flavour than other Islay whiskies.

Ingredients

  • Pork ribs
  • A beef stock cube
  • 50ml Port Charlotte heavily peated single malt
  • A teaspoon of chipotle chilli flakes
  • A big squirt of tomato ketchup
  • A wee squirt of honey
  • 250ml apple cider vinegar
  • 100g brown sugar
  • A splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • A splash of soy sauce
  • A teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • A sprinkle of garlic powder

Ribs

Drizzle olive oil over the ribs then rub in smoked paprika. Add the ribs to a roasting tray along with a large splash of water – it should be enough to just cover the bottom of the tray – and a beef stock cube. Cover with foil and roast in the oven for three hours at gas mark 3 (140°C). Remove and brush on a liberal amout of BBQ sauce. Return to the oven without foil for 30 mins.

BBQ Sauce

Heat the chipotle chilli flakes in a pan then add the peated whisky. Allow to simmer for a minute to burn off the alcohol. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the sauce reduces and becomes sticky which should be around about 20-30 mins. Once the ribs have cooked, stir in a couple of tablespoons of the juices from the bottom of the roasting tin into the sauce.

To Serve

Pour more of the sauce over the ribs to serve. I recommend some paprika and garlic chips and coleslaw on the side

Schöfferhofer Grapefruit and Cardamom Rice Recipe

Schöfferhofer Grapefruit is a wheat beer/grapefruit mix. At 2.5% it’s definitely a sessionable drink, and could not be more perfect on a super hot, sunny day. I must admit I’ve been a bit sceptical about this as I thought it would just taste like a grapefruit version of a Smirnoff ice but it’s actually lovely. It doesn’t taste much of beer, but as a juice, I’d happily drink this instead of my usual orange any day.

🕳 Schofferhoffer grapefruit beer
🕳 Water
🕳 Basmati rice
🕳 Cardamom pods
🕳 Coconut oil

The Schofferhofer and cardamom really lift the rice and add a lovely citrussy, fragrant element. Perfect for serving with lighter curries.

Rinse the rice then add a teaspoon of coconut oil – I always add a tiny amount of oil to rice as I find it helps to prevent the rice from clumping. Crush your cardamom pods and add them in. Then add equal amounts of Schofferhofer and boiling water. Cook as you normally would and serve.