Ask Chef Boy Ari
A Saucy Rejoinder
Dear Chef Boy Ari,
I’m hardly God’s gift to the kitchen, but I make a pretty good chicken-fried steak. I use only the shwaggiest ingredients, as required, and plus I’m from Texas. So when the steak comes out of the hot oil it’s perfectly crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and ready for a nice pour of good ol’ milk gravy.
Only problem is, my gravy is so bland it makes Wonder Bread seem spicy by comparison.
All I do is I take a few spoonfuls of fry oil, heat it in a pan with flour and add milk, salt and pepper like my recipe says, but the gravy is bland. I still serve it on my chicken-fried steak, as is required, and it’s the better for it. But I want a better gravy. Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Count on the Monte Cristo
I could pen a best-selling novel about some of the weird, inane or just plain ridiculous things I’ve heard people ask for when ordering food at a restaurant. My top three picks from when I used to wait tables (I was young and needed the money): No. 3: “Can I get a hamburger with cheese?” (“You mean a cheeseburger?” I asked. “No, just a hamburger with cheese.”) No. 2: “Can I get a glass of the pink wine?” And my No. 1 most irritating question, “My croutons are stale, can I get some new ones?”
When I lived in Chicago and biked around all winter, I learned firsthand how much a stiff drink can warm the cockles of your heart even on the coldest day. A shot of whiskey brings color to the cheeks, calms the chattering teeth and makes the ride back home through the slushy streets seem a little less daunting. Though winter in Albuquerque is a lot less traumatic, there are still moments when we need a warming draught to get ourselves through. Here are a few places we turn to for that tonic on a cold night.