Who put the beer in the gravy?

It is snowing like crazy outside my window, all over whatever Spring had sprung, but on the bright side, my husband made dinner last night. We had meatballs and rice with one heck of a gravy made from the beer he was drinking. The beauty of somebody cooking who doesn’t normally cook, is that they aren’t hemmed in by habit. I am sure making a gravy with beer has been done before, but I would have put beer in the gravy about as quick as a as a tuna would take up mowing the lawn.
I had already started the onions cooking. (I am a strong believer that they should be fully cooked before going in the meat. Ground turkey or chicken, which has a hard time on it’s own getting close to anything near tasting good needs all the help it can get.) I had them sizzling away with some chopped parsley, a sprig of marjoram, and some garlic, just getting ever so slightly caramelized, when Jonathan decided to take over. “I think you should let me make dinner tonight” he said, and so he did.

I gave him pointers only when he asked for them, like let the onions cool before you mix, so that they don’t heat the egg and make it tough, and pour a little cream over your fresh bread crumbs, and mush them with your fingers until they are soft enough to feed a baby before you mix them in, and when you do mix it all up, mix it only as long as you need to, to get everything evenly distributed. That’s it. To one pound of meat, it was a cup of crumbs, a quarter cup of cream, one lightly beaten egg, one onion, one clove of garlic, and a quarter cup of chopped parsely, cooked along with the onion and garlic. He got the frying pan out, covered it with just a drizzle of olive oil, made the mixture into tiny balls, so that they would cook quickly, and browned them all over. He got the rice into another pan, two parts water to one part rice, with some salt and butter, and then I had to jump back and take my hat off. He sizzled the rice until it was losing all the water, sticking some more butter in there at end, so that it melted across the bottom. He waited until it was going golden and crispy, filled the sink with ice water, and jammed the pan in to release the rice. He ended up with a creamy mass of rice with kind of a crispy crackly bit on top when he inverted the whole thing into the bowl. He got the meatballs out of the pan, and I told him to sprinkle flour over everything that was left in the there.
Then I said, “I don’t know what you’re going to do man, because we have no wine, and I didn’t make stock this week, and you can put water in there, but it’s not going to give you what you what you’re looking for”. “Honey,” he said, “I’m puttin’ in the beer”. I don’t like to discourage creativity, so after I checked the cold cereal situation, I said “that’s all right; beer could work.”
It wasn’t bad. It was good. It was OK. Instead of a strong ale, he thought a pilsner may have worked a little better; we added a smudge of good mustard and a spritz of sugar. Water helped smooth it out a little. Black cabbage steamed with a little olive and garlic, and then sauteed with a bit of butter would be a good choice for a vegetable. And if you can’t find that, spinach. Or peas, peas would be good.
We didn’t do a vegetable. The thing is, if you’re going to let someone else do the job, you have to let them do it.

One thought on “Who put the beer in the gravy?

  1. Hello. I am a sixteen-year-old Ohioan who is aspiring to be a New York chef. I am taking a specialized cooking program at school for my Junior and Senior year, and plan on attending the Culinary Institute of America. I have high hopes, and little chance when I think about it, but food is my passion. I was curious as to whether you had any words of wisdom to offer me that I may be able to use. I would greatly appreciate anything you had to offer. My e-mail address is dphillips@mindless.com

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