Buddies cook with beer at Thanksbeergiving
Is it really that far of a stretch? If beer has done such wonders to the art of drinking, why not extend its magic into other areas of humanity? We had actually dabbled in this area before with Matt's now-famous Sammy Burgers, which combined grilled burgers doused in Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
Such success inspired us to seek out how far we could take this notion. Upon further investigation, we have discovered that we are certainly not the first to think of spicing up the dinner table with a little brew. We found mouth-watering recipes on our fantastical voyage along the Internet Sea. Shiver me timbers!
On Sunday night, the end of our holiday weekend, we selected the best recipes and celebrated our very first Thanksbeergiving. Much like Thanksgiving, our holiday doesn't so much honor Native Americans and Pilgrims as it gives us an excuse to be gluttonous.
Our friends arrived after we'd been cooking for an hour, wary of what they might find. As we unveiled the key ingredient, Iron Chef-style, they squealed with glee. Some of them spoiled their dinners by eating our Guinness Beer brownies dusted with fermenting sugar. The recipe was basically the same as regular chocolate brownies, with a cup of Guinness included in the batter. Any porter or stout would work, or even coffee.
After sweets and a few beers, our guests were well prepared for anything we might serve up. Thus, we began with our appetizer of beer cheddar bisque. It was well-received and got polished off in an instant. Ryan fixed this dish with some sautéed vegetables, cream, lots of grated cheese, and a few egg yolks. It thickened up nicely and made Ryan at least look like he had more culinary skill than Chef Boyardee. It did not, however, serve 12 as the recipe promised. Our friend, Dan, who ate three bowls, might have contributed to that problem somewhat.
Ryan followed up with his vegetarian entrée, pasta and eggplant in beer sauce. The response was lukewarm (but his parents loved it!). The assembled party apparently wasn't excited about the eggplant, which is understandable because eggplant inspires as much excitement as, well, eggplant. Ryan wasn't excited either, but he's trying to develop a taste for it. The beer (Leinenkugel's Red Lager) held up just fine, making a tasty sauce and elevating Ryan from Chef Boyardee status to full-blown Wolfgang Puck.
The side dish was Scotch ale spuds, soaked for an hour in Belhaven Scottish Ale and oil. This could easily be grill-cooked, as it called for the potato chunks to be wrapped in foil in the oven. The product was moist potatoes with barely a hint of caramel flavor from the beer - nothing special, but a decent dish.
Mentioning that they had "meetings" and such, our friends decided not to wait for Matt's long-cooking meat entrées. It was a shame, because the "carne-tarian" dishes were enough to satisfy even Dr. Atkins himself. The first course was Guinness stew, a merger of beef tips (when baby seal is not in season), carrots, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and Ireland's finest stout. Due to a slight miscommunication, the stew ended up consisting of just beef, tomato, a couple cubes of onions and a lot of beer. Yet part of the glory of stew is that it is a fairly tough dish to screw up. Aside from its lengthy cooking time (set oven to 300 degrees, cook until doomsday) the stew was delicious and supremely satisfying.
As a main course, Matt decided to cook a recipe which goes by the classy moniker of "Beer-Butt" chicken. As you could guess, it combines two college guy's obsessions into one. Basically the recipe calls for one half-empty beer can to be placed up the rear hole of a chicken, which saves Matt a lot of money normally spent on dinner for two and a movie to get the same result elsewhere.
The process by which you do this is truly something to behold. It starts with a gentle massage of the chicken with some flavored oils by candlelight. Then you slowly lube the can up in preparation for entry. Finally, using a position the karma-sutra describes as "Chicken crouching over Budweiser can," you slowly and gently lower the chicken down on the can, making it stand ? erect. We'd go into further detail, but we have to think of the kids at this point. Suffice to say, after an hour of serious heat, this combo creates a succulent bird.
We unfastened our belts and leaned back from the table. This was a sure sign that Thanksbeergiving had been a momentous success. We had barely seen the tip of the iceberg of beer food and we were well fed and exhausted. There is still so much to explore. But pilsner-flavored salmon filets, Chocolate stout chili, beer-battered shrimp, and the famous Samuel Adams Sammy Burger would all have to wait until next year. Or until we invent another holiday to celebrate beer. New Beer's Eve, anyone?
To bore Ryan and Matt with your holiday stories, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.