Thursday, 26 June 2014

Eggs Gambrinus, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Belgium

You've got to give it to the Belgians; not only have they got a pretty decent football team these days but they've got the folklore nailed as well!  No men in green tights to be seen; instead we have Gambrinus.  There are several different versions of this mythical character (usually the case with these folklore types!) but one thing they all have in common is 'beer', hats off!  You can keep your bows and arrows just give me the beer!  In some accounts he is the inventor of beer, in others just a guy who could handle a lot of it (again, I doff my hat!).  He's usually pictured as a happy fatty with a tankard in his hand, he just gets better!

I'm not entirely certain of the current prominence of this recipe in Belgian cuisine as internet searches only result in one recipe.  The recipe is from the 1982 book 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces' by Enid Gordon and Midge Shirley.  Although slightly worried about not being able to find any other references to the recipe, this book does seem like the real deal so I think I'm in safe hands.

Unsurprisingly, beer features heavily in this recipe; kriek or cherry beer to be precise.  We poach the eggs in it and then use the poaching liquor to make a roux based sauce, it's a bit rarebit meets eggs Benedict.  In further good news, the eggs are then served on fried bread, outstanding!  Gambrinus can come around to mine anytime and I might even knock him a batch of these up!

Eggs Gambrinus (Adapted from 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces')

Having said that I was in safe hands in terms of the authenticity of the recipe book; the recipe itself is actually very vague in terms of cooking technique and quantities!  It tells us to poach the eggs in 'half a bottle' of kriek, thanks for that (I knew that size mattered!),  I also struggled to work out how it was possible to poach 4 eggs in half a bottle of beer; it's either a huge bottle or the Belgians poach eggs differently to me!  There are also lines like 'fry in the remaining butter', what remaining butter?!

My main dilemma (other than quantities e.g. googling what the hell a 'dl' is, decilitre in case you're wondering although I should've known!) was how to poach the eggs.  Even with a whole bottle of beer it isn't the amount of liquid needed to poach eggs in!  So I decided to abandon my usual technique of poaching in a large saucepan and switched to my smallest saucepan so the beer would be as deep as possible.  The pan needs to be non-stick when using such a small amount of liquid as the egg will hit the bottom on entry! These weren't my prettiest poached eggs but they did the job and I didn't have to spend a fortune emptying bottle after bottle into a large pan!  So, the version you see here is the result of me scratching my head and trying to work out exactly what to do!  Gotta love 80's recipes!  I hope I got it right!


375ml Kriek or other Cherry Beer ( I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Sugar
100ml Double Cream
Chopped Parsley to garnish


1.  Pour the beer into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Poach the eggs in the beer one at a time by cracking the eggs into a ramekin and then gently pouring into the beer.  Poach until just set, around 3 minutes (they will continue to cook as they rest whilst you make the sauce so it is important not to overcook at this point.  Don't worry about them going cold; we'll warm them up later!).  Remove eggs to kitchen roll when ready.  Remove saucepan from the heat and place to one side.
2.  In a separate pan, melt the butter and heat until bubbling.  Tip in the flour and stir thoroughly, fry for a minute to cook out the flour; gradually strain in around half of the reserved beer (bit by bit, stirring all the time) until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Add the sugar and stir in the cream.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
3.  Reheat the poaching liquor until simmering and gently place the eggs back in, place a lid on and gently cook for around 1 minute until reheated.  Remove to eggs to kitchen roll.
4.  Serve on bread (crusts removed and cut into an oval) that has been either fried in butter or toasted and buttered.  Top each slice with a poached egg and then spoon over the sauce and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!

I seem to be inadvertently stumbling across breakfast/brunch dishes during this challenge; Syrniki, Chakchouka and now Eggs Gambrinus!  Weekends are going to be fun and fattening in my household over the coming weeks!  I really enjoyed the sweet and deep sauce with the rich egg yolks.  It's a really decadent sauce which certainly packs a calorific punch!

This is my last recipe from the group stages of the World Cup so now I'm just waiting to see who qualifies from Group H.  I'll be posting recipes from the two countries which progress on the days they play for as long as they last in the tournament.

Search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter to see all the recipes and give @EwanMitchell a follow for creating this great challenge which will have me sporting a Gambrinus-style physique in no time! Cheers,

The Brewer King!  Image taken from this entertaining tale of Gambrinus!


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