Picnics and beer on Karen Morton’s Food and Drink Show

The programme broadcasts on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 5pm, repeated the following Wednesday at 7am Thursday 11.00 am Friday 2.00 pm on Radio Reverb 97.2 FM. Or via www.radioreverb.com.

Sponsored by Brighton Gin (distilled by the seaside)

Karen Morton’s Food and Drink Show first broadcast 20th June 2021 with guest host Paul Couchman

The theme of the show was Picnics and Beer tying in with National Picnic week June 19th to June 27th and also National Beer Day on June 15th in the UK.

And it was English Wine Week too so Karen mentioned the rather decadent idea of having an English wine tour with a picnic made for you at Albourne Vineyard. What a treat?!

But for those that prefer to make their own picnics I suggested, modestly, that my Jane Austen Online Picnic Experience might suit. It is coming up on the 17th July 2021. Tickets available here.

Thomas Cole’s “The Picnic”, Brooklyn Museum (1846)

Beer and Ale

Karen paid a visit to Hepworth Brewery in Sussex, UK. The ingredients they use in their beers are simple and pure: Barley, hops, yeast and water, sometimes a little wheat or corn to vary the style. They are the traditional components of British Ales. They respect these traditions rigorously.

Locally sourced Ingredients

Hepworth Brewery source all their ingredients, where possible, in Sussex, a county of superb agriculture. Organic barley comes from the Goodwood estate. The barley is roasted to their own, very precise specifications.

Hepworth’s Sussex Pale Ale is used in Higgidy’s make a Steak & Sussex Ale Pie which is even available in Sainsbury’s.

Beer’s minor role in English Cookery

While beer was used for cooking in England during the sixteenth century, this seemed to be rare and beer appears to play a relatively minor role in English cooking until quite recently.

Gary Gillman, in a study of English and Irish recipes using beer, could only find a handful of examples, a few examples here:

  • Welsh Rarebit or Gloucester Cheese and ale.
  • Sometimes in Christmas pudding recipes
  • Some beef dishes,
  • As a cure for ham.
  • A Yorkshire beef-and-beer dish with spices like cloves and mace that recalls Middle Ages meat cookery. 

But the tradition of cooking with beer has always been, and still is, strong in Holland and Belgium.

Beer famously used in Dutch and Flemish recipes

A Carbonade Flamande is a beef and onion stew much like favourite the French dish – boeuf bourguignon.

But the Carbonade Flamande is earthier in taste because it uses beer instead of wine. This dish often comes with diced bacon or pancetta, and is seasoned with thyme and bay leaves.

Beers with a slightly bitter and sour flavour are traditionally used to make this dish which gives it a fantastic sweet and sour taste.

In Belgium it is served with chips or stoemp (mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables such as endive or cabbage).

It is sometimes served it with apple sauce. Beer generally adds bitterness to food and often recipes that use beer also include sweet ingredients to balance the flavours.

Beer used in Modern English recipes

Modern times abound with beer recipes. How about Jamie Oliver’s cauliflower fritters with spiced beer batter or Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake, if you haven’t tried it already!

For the show, I tried a Elizabethan recipe for stewed mutton steaks. The original is below. He highly recommends eating the adapted version (further below) on a rainy day, preferably in the autumn but he enjoyed his lamb in beer on a summer’s day in a storm and it tasted just fine.

To Make Stewed Steakes

Take a peece of Mutton, and cutte it in pieces, and wash it very cleane, and put it in a faire pot with ale, then make it Boyle, and skumme it clean, and put into your pot a faggot of Rosemary and Time, then some parsley picked fine, and some onions cut round, and lit them all boyle together, and season it with sinamon and Ginger, Nutmeggs, two or three Cloves and salt, and so serve it on soppes and garnish it with fruite’

From The Good Huswife’s Jewell, Thomas Dawson, 1596.

Here’s my adapted version of an adaptation of the recipe from the book The Art of Dining by Sara Paston-Williams.

  • 2 lamb leg steaks (approx 350g)
  • 25g butter
  • 1 large tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 500ml real ale
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped small
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 cloves
  • 50g raisins
  • freshly milled black pepper and salt
  • 200g (1 small tin) or dried prunes (stoned)
  • orange slices to garnish

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy pan and brown the lamb steaks quickly until well browned on all sides. Removed with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add to the pan the chopped onions and cook in the remaining fat until completely soft.

Put the meat back in with the onions and pour over the ale. Add the chopped herbs, the spices and the raisins. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the prunes and cook for a further 30 minutes until the lamb is soft and the sauce has reduced down.

Serve with toast to be authentic or with soft boiled new potatoes lightly crushed and spinach or cabbage on the side. Garnish with orange slices.

If you would like to listen to the show it’s on Radio Reverb on 97.2 FM.


Schedule Times for the Food and Drink Show are:

Third Sunday of the month a fresh Show. Repeats Monday 11.00 a.m.  Wednesday 4.00 p.m. and Saturday 6.00 a.m. weekly

Sponsored by Brighton Gin (distilled by the seaside)


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