Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bierpap

Pap, or porridge is a warm milky food that is flavored with sugar or stroop, and served for breakfast to the children of Holland. Lammetjespap, ontbijtpap etc was an easy and affordable way to feed large families and often served as comfort food when children were sick. Lammetjespap, or lamb's porridge, is either milk thickened with flour and sweetened with sugar, or beschuit, crumbled up in warm milk and sugar. Depending on where you grew up in Holland, it can be either one or the other.

Another type of pap is bierpap, or beer porridge. Bierpap, however, was not served for breakfast but rather dinner, or as a shortly-before-going-to-bed snack. The base is still the same: hot milk thickened with flour and sweetened with sugar, but now with the addition of a generous splash of dark brown, sweet beer. Table beer, or tafelbier like the darker beers, used to be a standard beverage during lunch and dinner, especially in the southern provinces and Belgium, where the drinking water was of low quality. Tafelbier, or "yellow belly beer" as a dear friend calls it, has a very low alcohol content, just around 1 to 2%.

When asked about childhood favorite foods, a family friend shared this recipe and reminisced about how her parents would regularly serve this dish for dinner, as it was filling, comforting and ensured that the kids would be asleep by bedtime.  If you can't find a dark beer, like the Heineken Special Dark, replace it with a low alcohol content beer and substitute the regular sugar for a brown sugar.

During these winter days, when it's rainy, cold and dark outside, bierpap might be just the ticket for a filling dinner and then a long, sweet slumber.

Bierpap
2 cups and 2 tablespoons of whole milk, divided
2 tablespoons of flour
1/2 cup of dark beer
1 tablespoon of sugar

Bring two cups of milk to a simmer. Dissolve the flour in the two tablespoons of milk and stir it in the warm milk. Bring the milk to a boil and stir until the mixture thickens, whisking it well so it creates an airy foam on top. Lower the heat, stir in the sugar and the beer and bring the porridge back up to temperature. Serve warm in bowls or mugs.

Sweet dreams!!

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