I'm a big fan of the cooking of Ana Sortun, chef-owner at the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her seasoning is sophisticated and daring, her dishes warm and intense. This is one of her most tantalizing recipes: a beer-braised lamb shoulder, shredded and shaped into galettes or keftedes, then pan-fried until the exteriors are crisp, while the interiors remain soft and satiny.
The concept of Mediterranean people cooking with beer surprised me at first; it seemed so Nordic. But it is a fairly common practice in some Armenian communities in the Middle East. In fact, the brewing of beer was practiced thousands of years ago in Egypt. According to ancient tablets, peasants made beer using bread dough mixed with dates.
The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert. Copyright © 2003 by Paula Wolfert. Photographs copyright © by Christopher Hirsheimer. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.