Hungry to find my own kind, I recently corresponded with a fellow beer chick, the very accomplished Lucy Saunders. Besides being revered by the world's leading beer writers and experts (do Michael Jackson or the Alstrom brothers ring any bells?), she also has 20 years experience as an author, a cook and a teacher. She's also a Chicago girl, like myself, and believes that beer is food. Yeah, she pretty much rocks it. Oh, and she calls beer the "sauce of life." Which makes me smile for a couple of different reasons: one of which is that the quote comes from her most recent book called "Grilling with Beer." KEEP READING.
Now I know this is crazy. Because, while some of us chicks are now comfortable with having breached the masculine world of beer; grilling is a whole 'nother level of male. I feel a bit like Marlow in "Heart of Darkness," traveling into unknown territory a little scared and a little excited, but certain that I will be experiencing things I never have before. Hand me the Maudite, I'm ready for fire...heh heh...fire...FIRE!
You might be saying to yourself, "Big deal, beer and grilling, what's new?" But as Lucy herself says in her book, you probably "have summertime memories of sucking back ice-cold fizzy, yellow, cheap beer while charring burgers, hot dogs and chicken on the hibachi." This book is about something on the far side of the culinary planet from that experience.
Lucy writes about sauces, bastes, glazes, rubs, marinades and brines. She talks about nuance and flavors found in craft beer that "range from fruity, floral, citrusy, sweet, sour, spicy, herbal, earthy, toasty, roasted, smoky and burnt." She talks about craft beer providing a diversity of flavor that you simply won't find with any other beverage.
She's right you know.
So far, I've tried the "Mexican Dark Lager Mole," which was awesome. I used Craftsman Smoked Black Lager and the flavors and textures with the chocolate, chiles, cumin, coriander and pumpkin seeds were amazing (I cooked this recipe with chicken.)
I also had a great slow food experience with the "Dunkel Weiss & Spice Marinade" and a flank steak. I used the Aventinus Eisbock (a 12% wheat dopplebock - close enough). The steak was wonderful, there was wonderful herbacity, big spicy notes (I used extra red pepper flakes) and a deep, rich sweetness. I took Lucy's advice and used part of the marinade reduced as a sauce. Delish.
Here's a simple recipe from the book that looks really interesting:
Mustard Sage Glaze
1/2 cup prepared Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1/2 cup amber ale
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper.
1. Whisk together all ingredients in medium bowl; brush
on chops, steak or chicken or fish during last 5 minutes
Makes 1 cup.
**Wonder what this recipe would taste like subbing the Craftsman Triple White Sage for the amber ale? Dare to dream.
Where can you find more from Lucy? She edits BeerCook.com. You can buy her book at http://www.grillingwithbeer.com. She also wrote a book called "Cooking with Beer" that is equally lauded. You can click here for more information.
You can also glean more of Lucy's knowledge in this month's issue of Beer Advocate (click here for a subscription.) In a column called "Last Call by Lucy Saunders: The Sizzle" She asks the question, "Must great taste be at the expense of good taste?"
You go girl!