Beer food, they said, for when you’ve got people over to watch the World Cup and stuff … But what is beer food, beyond nuts, crisps and calling in a meat feast pizza with extra jalapeños? It’s what my friend Alejandro calls “nibblings” and my dad “snackettes”.
A good nibbling is a well-seasoned, often potato-based thing. It is pick-up-able, dunkable and, sometimes, slatherable with something nice and punchy, allowing for kick-back against (my) horrible habits such as smoking out of the window and other such abominations. These recipes deliver all those things and are mostly doable well in advance. There is only a little work involved in getting them ready, the shopping is one fell swoop of a large, high-street retailer-type thing and, vitally, there is very little effort required when it comes to eating them. Which frees up time and, indeed, a hand for holding a beer or waving about in the air when someone scores, or doesn’t, or whatever it is.
Curried egg mayonnaise
If crisps aren’t your bag, though I hope they are, use chopped raw veg such as cucumber sticks, chicory or baby gem leaves instead.
Prep 10 minCook 12 minServes 4
4 eggs, boiled for 7 minutes and peeled4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced (both white and green bits)1 heaped tsp mild madras curry powder2 heaped tbsp mayonnaise – Hellmann’s is my go-to1 tbsp malt or white-wine vinegarSalt and black pepper 1 big bag of crisps of your choosing, for dunking – check the ingredients if you need them to be gluten-free (a surprising number aren’t)
Put the eggs in a bowl and mash the hell out of them with a fork. Add the onions, curry powder, mayo, vinegar, a big pinch of salt and some black pepper, and stir thoroughly. Serve with the crisps for dunking.
Baked new potatoes with soured cream and rose harissa
I don’t want to teach my granny to suck eggs here – I’m sure we’ve all baked a potato – but this is how I do it and these ones are little.
Prep 5 minCook 40 minMakes 20
10 new potatoes, all of a similar size150ml full-fat soured cream1 x 170g jar rose harissa – I like Belazu, which all the supermarkets now sell
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Hold a fork in one hand and cradle a potato in the palm of your other hand. Tack, tack, tack the fork firmly all over the potato, turning it around as you go, so perforating it all over – this will allow for an even evaporation of the water inside it and therefore result in a better baked potato. (This is the same thing I do with big baked potatoes.) If their width allows, arrange the little spuds on an oven rack; if not, put them on a dry, heated baking tray. They’ll take about 35 minutes until they look exactly like a normal baked potato, but in miniature! (Squeeze one in a tea towel to make sure it’s completely soft.) Remove from the oven and drop them one by one – do not throw them! – from a height of a foot or so on to a work surface, to break up their lovely insides.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, arrange them on a platter, then spoon on some soured cream followed by some rose harissa; I also like these topped with that lumpfish caviar you get in little £2 jars from the supermarket, in which case ditch the harissa. You’ll probably have soured cream left over, and harissa, and some raw potatoes from the bag you bought, so do the same thing tomorrow, when that other match is on.
Rösti with lime pickle yoghurt, peas and mint
Prep 5 minCook 30 min Makes 1 big rösti, to cut into at least 8 slices
2 medium-sized waxy potatoes 2 tbsp olive oil2 tbsp vegetable oil10 mint leaves, to finish, or 1 tbsp mint sauce or jelly
For the yoghurt3 heaped tbsp thick, full-fat yoghurt1 heaped tbsp of your favourite lime pickle, chopped up small or blitzed smooth1 handful frozen peas, defrosted (petit pois are always best)At least three hours in advance, boil the potatoes in their skins until the moment a skewer goes all the way through with little resistance, then drain and leave to cool. Once cool, grate the potatoes, skin and all, on the coarse side of a box grater and season heavy-handedly.
Get a frying pan on the heat, add a tablespoon of each oil and get it hot. Put the heap of grated potato in the middle of the pan and, using the back of a spoon, gently press it down into a rough circle about 1cm thick. A little messy is fine – it’s a potato cake, not a tax return. Leave the thing to sizzle and cook for a few minutes, then shake (or, if necessary, use a spatula) to get it loose. Keep cooking the rösti, moving it about occasionally (but not turning it over), for another 10 minutes, then slide out of the pan and on to a plate.
Put the remaining oil in the pan and let it heat up. Pop a second plate on top of the rösti plate and flip over so that, when you lift the top plate, it’s now fried side up (you may well be able to flip it on the plate with a spatula, but do that only if you don’t think it will fall apart). Slide the rösti back into the hot pan and cook for another 10 minutes.
While the second side sizzles and turns golden (you could also have done this hours ago), roll up the mint leaves, if using, and shred finely (poncy chefs call this a chiffonade); alternatively, dig out the mint sauce/jelly. Combine all the yoghurt ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Once the rösti is cooked through and beautifully golden on both sides, slide it out of the pan, leave it to cool a bit, then cut into at least eight slices, like a pizza.
Dunk the rösti in the yoghurt (or slather it all over it) and top with your mint of choice. Then get everyone another beer.