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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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Interview with Bruce Aidells
president of Aidells Sausage Co. and
co-author, with Denis Kelly, REAL BEER AND GOOD EATS

Like many cooks, Aidells followed a circuitous route to the world of food. "In the late 60s, while in grad school, I started cooking my way through the Time-Life series, Foods of the World," recalls Aidells. "The first dish I made with beer was a classic, a Belgian carbonnade."

As a post-doctoral researcher living in London, Aidells began making sausages, and also sampling English ales. "London was where I learned to love Welsh rarebit, made with real Englishn Cheddar and ale."

Some of the most food-friendly beers to drink with a meal, Aidells realized, aren't always the ones to use in cooking. "Beers that aren't so hoppy and bold actually make better-tasting food," adds Aidells.

A few exceptions to that rule exist - as in another recipe Aidells learned in the UK - a gently braised beef stew rich with Guinness, mushrooms and cream. "The cream mellows and softens the hoppiness of the ale," says Aidells.

Beer is superior to red wine as a marinade base, believes Aidells. "I don't advocate marinating with strong red wines. The acidity in wine can be so overpowering. Beer is much more subtle, and really complements more delicate proteins such as fish, pork and chicken."

Of course, grilled, smokey flavors go best with beer, so Aidells recommends beer to drink with BBQ.

"As a general rule of thumb, the beer of a specific country often goes well with its cuisine, for example, Singha goes great with Thai food, and a beer that I normally don't drink on its own, Taj Mahal, goes really well with Indian food, because it's got a hint of that old rice taste, that nuttiness that meshes with spices and curries."

I asked Aidells if he ever tried to make sausage with spent grain, in the same tradition as Boudin sausage made with rice, Czech sausage made with liver and barley, and Norwegian potato sausage.

"Actually, the guys at Full Sail in Hood River, Oregon, had a better solution," recalls Aidells. "They gave spent grain to a local hog farmer who, months later, would give them pork sausages from these really well-fed pigs."

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