Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and welcome to The Chef’s Prerogative’s Holiday Extravaganza. Come on in, take a load off, and allow me to do all the cooking – after all, no one thought to bring a casserole or anything. It’s my pleasure to cook for you, the ones I love. And because no one showed up to culinary school graduation, it will be an opportunity to show everyone what I’ve learned these last four years. We’re having a beautiful turkey that’s been brined and cooked with an herbed butter; dressing made from Aunt June’s recipe that for some reason calls for oysters; my own special stuffing for the bird; and, of course, mountains of mashed potatoes and luscious layers of gravy made from the turkey drippings. Except for cousin Lauren, the vegan, who will be having oats and hay outside. Just kidding, Lauren. But seriously, get out. Wow, this scotch is great – is this 18-year-old? Today is a very special day. A day for us to give thanks. Thanks for family, thanks for friends, thanks for the fact that Uncle Mike could pull enough strings to get those embezzlement charges knocked down to a misdemeanor. I’d personally like to thank all of you for your unwavering antipathy in regards to the personal journey I’ve been on for the last four years while attending culinary school – Dad’s always told me I was nothing special, and your collective aversion to all things remotely resembling praise or support has really kept me humble. And with that, I’m going to retire to the kitchen to get a refill and check on the bird. There’s a cheese plate and some hors d’oeuvres if anyone but Lauren is interested.
Thanks for helping out, Dave; I appreciate you tasting everything to make sure it’s palatable. I’m sure no one will care that you stuck your fingers in the dressing. No, I don’t think anyone will mind that I’m drinking right from the bottle – plus, then when people ask me how many scotches I’ve had, I can honestly say “two.” Hey! You know what we need? We need some football – someone turn on the Lion’s game – Billy, go turn it to Fox. No, don’t worry, the Steelers aren’t playing, so your daddy won’t start hitting you or yelling at mommy if they lose. God, I forgot how good Sauvignon blanc was. Thanks for asking, Aunt Sue; I actually used a “dry brine,” which allows the osmosis of the juices to osmosisize into the meat of the turkey – osmosis is delicious. I’m also rubbing butter on the skin, much like Christopher rubs lotion on the skin of ladyboys whenever he visits Thailand. Oh, what? It’s not like it was a secret, Chris – I’m just tryin’ to have a little fun. Oh, man, I almost forgot – Dave, get me that bottle of Wild Turkey. See? I’m drinking Wild Turkey while roasting a turkey! “Bottle” is a weird word, isn’t it? Bottle. Booooootle. Weird. Dave, who is that redhead in the black top? Not to be vulgar, or anything, but I wanna stalk her like a big bull cat and fuck her sick. What?!?! First or second cousin? Nevermind, it doesn’t matter.
Man, can you guys smell that aroma? No, seriously, can you guys – because I seem to have lost my sense of smell when my face went numb. Anywho, it’s time to start the stuffing. Someone get me a loaf of bread and some drinks. Now that I think about it, the bread should be a few days old, so we’re kind of screwed. Although, our turkey’s been in the oven for two hours already, so it’s too late to stuff it, anyway. What do you mean the turkey’s still in the fridge?!?! Aunt Pat, I told you to put the thing in the oven! What do you mean you just got here?!?! Then who did I tell to do that? Shit. On the bright side, now we have time to stuff the bird! I knew I left that thing in the fridge for a reason. I’m going to take my knife – it’s important that it’s really sharp – and cube the bread. As you can see, I’ve cut off the tip off my finger, which, in culinary school, is known as the “Belgian method.” Dave, can you get me a bandage and some rubbing alcohol to drink. Thanks. Now that that’s taken care of, we add some sautéed onion, crisped bacon, and chicken stock. I’m going to need someone to go ahead and saute some onions, crisp some bacon, and make stock. Where’s everyone going? You’re going to miss out on some great jokes about the Jews. Whatever. Jesus, James, I know you’re hungry, but thanks to Aunt Pat, I’m only just now putting the chicken in the oven. I haven’t not had too much to drinking. Maybe you are. If you had a drinks to loosen up, every once in a while, maybe Mary wouldn’t have slept with that tennis pro that I introduced her to. Anyway, I’m going to start on the mashed potatoes. After the potatoes are boiled in boiling water, we put them through this device, which is called a “ricer.” Don’t tell that to grandpa, though, or he’ll have a Korean War flashback, and start calling Terry’s boyfriend a gook. It’s bad enough he had to meet Sarah’s new boyfriend, Tyrone.
Don’t worry about why I’m on the floor, mom, I was just looking for my contact and decided to take a quick nap while the room was spinning. But we just had a talk about my drinking last Thanksgiving. Speaking of which, I should have another tipple. Mmmm, this hard cider is delicious. Alright, so we’ve got our potatoes in a bowl, our turkey in an oven I’m just now noticing is not on, and our stuffing is still in its constituent pieces all over the kitchen. Obviously, someone has steered this meal off course, and I’m not pointing fingers, or anything, but that person is obviously Aunt Pat. Obviously. But that’s okay, because my culinary education has taughted me to be improv… improvishing… improvi-sation-ally inclined. Someone see if the turkey will fit in the microwave. Yes, you can, dad – it will be fine. I don’t need a nap; I took one last night for, like, eight hours. Does anyone have any model airplane glue on them, by any chance? Okay, I’ve made an executive decision: we’re having ham and cheese sandwiches for dinner. Where are you all going?!?! Listen, just give me four hours to roast this chicken and make the stuffing and potatoes and vegetables and – oh, shit, I forgot to buy the vegetables at the store. Come on, guys, it will be okay… alright, fine. Go to the country club for dinner, see what I care. I know who my real family is. I’ll see you for Kwanzaa, Tyrone!
24 November 2009
In an effort to keep your voracious appetite for my culinary musings satisfied, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog, cleverly titled “Amuse Boosh!“. It features mini-diatribes which will be published in-between my usual long-ass diatribes. You’re very welcome. That’ll be ten bucks.
As cavalier as I am about so many things (crime scene clean-up, lying on my resume, being a royalist supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War), there is one arena in life in which I am steadfastly fastidious. When it comes to cleanliness while cooking poultry, I conduct my culinary processes like a epidemiologist at the WHO. This is mostly due to my crippling and relentless fear of contracting salmonella, which, as we already know, makes your insides melt and your genitalia spontaneously combust. In general, I view raw poultry like Dustin Hoffman viewed those African Ebola sufferers in the movie Outbreak. I don’t know where this paralyzing fear of poultry comes from, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I was once attacked by a flock of birds, narrowly escaping just in time to save my girlfriend, Tippi Hedren.
It is with this trepidation and white-hot fear that I approach my Thanksgiving preparation. This year’s turkey, “Betty,” is currently in the fridge, hopefully benefiting from a dry brine. Forgetting, for a moment, the fact that brines are inherently wet, I’m hoping that the application of a nice miasma of kosher salt kick-starts the osmosis process, or whatever the fuck, and will eventually bring about a moist, tender bird, without a hint of gut-rending enterobacteria.
On a related note: what asshole decided turkey should be the traditional thanksgiving meal? The pilgrims had fucking lobster, you know; we couldn’t have done that? Societal norms couldn’t dictate a nice surf & turf? Trust me, I’d be much happier giving thanks with a nice steak that took ten minutes to cook and didn’t dry out to the consistency of balsa wood. Anyway, here’s to hoping Betty – and all our departed sacrificial turkeys – turn out juicy, delicious, and with a generous side of tons of scotch.
28 August 2009
“Lo, and the Lord said unto the faithful, ‘The football is good, and thou shalt have it.’ But, unto his children he spake a caveat, ‘Ye, the football shall be watchethed, but only by he who eateth a bunch of wings and puncheth thine walls when his starting quarterback injureths himself and is lost for the majority of the season.”
I, for one, would like to take a moment to thank our Lord for the return of our most favorite of pastimes and drinking excuses. In His honor, I will worship at the alter of my local bar, and genuflect by watching the heinous play of my wayward Bengals. Also, I’ll drink a shit-load of bloody Marys. For those of us who have looked forward to the first week of football, the excitement is almost too much to handle. Last season, I was so excited that I was passed-out next to a dead hooker before half time. In an effort to help you get the most out of the first time in seven months you’ve cared about something, I’ve decided to put together an itinerary. Note: all times are PST; because games start at 10 a.m., we get to drink a lot earlier than all you Quakers, out there.
3:oo a.m. – Wake up. Practice tantric masturbation for three hours to center yourself. Orgasm pure energy.
6:00 a.m. – Make a pitcher of margaritas [FN 1]. Put on your “Get Pumped” mix CD to get pumped in a manner commensurate with the occasion. Mine consists of fourteen straight tracks of “I Don’t Know Much (But I Know I Love You)” by Aaron Neville. Drink the pitcher of margaritas. Shit, while your at it, make a margarita pizza [FN 2].
7:30 a.m. – You’re going to want to warm up your rage muscles, because even though it’s the first week, you’re inevitably going to see something in their play which convinces you that your favorite team is going to have a shitty season. Such as, “they’re from Detroit.” I like to do ten minutes of yelling exercises, followed by three sets of wall punches.
8:30 a.m. – Make your lucky breakfast of two soft-boiled eggs with toasted, buttered, French bread soldiers [FN 3.] Sure, this lucky breakfast hasn’t worked in terms of bringing you happiness during the football season, but – hey! – you’ve never gotten Ebola after eating it, so it must be doing something right.
9:00 a.m. – Generally, this is the time of day when you’re going to start getting the shakes and hyperventilating, in anticipation of kick-off. The best way to calm these sensations? You guessed it: drinking mescal and huffing model airplane glue. Another way to calm yourself is to set a terrible towel on fire. And a Steelers fan.
9:30 a.m. – bang hot chicks.
9:45 a.m. – [If you happen to be on the East Coast – or follow a team other than those that generally start their games at 1:00 EST – good for you! You get to start drinking now, and will be able to get drunk, throw up, nap, and start drinking again, all before your particular kick-off. Hooray, you! ] Begin your pilgrimage to the sports bar (unless you have Dish Network, in which case, fuck you and your Sunday Ticket.) I suggest leaving a trail of cigarettes, so you can find your way home after the game.
10:00 a.m. – Ohboyohboyohboyohboyohboyohboy. Order second bloody mary.
10:01 a.m. – Well, it’s official: the Bengals are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. If you listen closely, you can hear Mike Brown being inept while counting his money and blindly piloting my favorite football team towards yet another unyielding maelstrom of suck.
10:02 a.m. – Order your third bloody Mary since getting to the bar. Also order nachos. And wings. And artichoke dip. And a breakfast burrito.
10:30 a.m. – I tend to be a pretty reticent football viewer while I’m at the bar, but I’m not averse to standard, perfunctory conversation every once in a while. It’s important to know, however, that if you’re engaged in conversation with someone while the game’s going on, there’s a good chance you may be interrupted by the other person when someth- OH, MY GOD, HOW THE FUCK COULD YOU DROP THAT FUCKING PASS! CATCH SOMETHING, YOU FUCKING MONGOLOID!!!
1:00 p.m. – Well, the morning game is over, and you have several options open to you: (1) you can stay at the bar and continue to try and woo that cute bartender (I think his name is Dave); (2) you can emerge from your cavern of iniquity, scratchy-throated and heartbroken, to voyage home and nap the nap of the valiant; or (3) if you’re a Steelers fan, you can, you know, eat babies, or whatever it is you sick fucks do. I generally opt for the nap…
1:30 p.m. – …But not before making a traditional post-game snack of chile con queso. Melt shredded cheddar and Velveeta in a double boiler, then add in some cream, onion, peppers, and whatever else your shriveled, defeated heart can dream up. Slow down your afternoon drinking by nursing 18 Modelo Negros. Weep softly. Nap.
5:00 p.m. – Tune in to Football Night in America to watch an hour and fifteen minutes of Brett Favre coverage. Get out your punchin’ fist one more time.
9:00 p.m. – It’s been a long day, so you’re going to want to pack it in a little early. Stake yourself out a nice, comfortable spot next to the toilet. And, hey, no worries about work tomorrow, because when you call in sick, you won’t be lying. Plus, it will give you all day to drink before Monday Night Football. God, I love this sport [FN 4].
FN 1. As such: 1.5 parts good tequila, 1 part lime juice, 1/2 part Cointreau (or Triple Sec.) Rim the glass (not in the sexy way) with salt, and pour over ice.
FN 2. As such: Awww, you know how to do this, already, you chef, you.
FN 3. As such: boil water, drop in the eggs, remove from the heat, then let steep for 7 minutes (for XL eggs, 5 or 6 for smaller ones.) Remove eggs and run under cold water. Cut off the tops and dip toasted matchstick-sized segments of french bread into that luscious volcano of cholesterol.
FN 4. Apologies for the lack of culinary excellence in this post, as well as for it being so Bengals-centric. Speaking of the Bengals, please be sure to take a moment to join the revolution. If not for me, do it for Karen, here…
“Dinner was always a big thing in the joint. We had a pasta course and then meat or fish. Paulie did the prep work. He was doing a year for contempt and he had a system for doing garlic. He used a razor and he sliced it so thin it used to liquefy in the pan with a little oil. Vinnie was in charge of the tomato sauce. I felt he put in too many onions, but it was a good sauce, anyway. Johnny Dio did the meat. He didn’t have a broiler, so we did everything in pans. He smelled up the joint something awful, and the hacks used to die. Everybody else in the joint was doing real time, all mixed together, living like pigs.”
-Ray Liotta, as Henry Hill, in Goodfellas
“I cut myself slicing the garlic like how the bad man told me to, and now I have a owie.”
–The Chef’s Prerogative, after cutting his finger with a razor blade
Perhaps it’s because I’m a de facto Italian, but the cooking of my make-believe homeland has always struck me as being about more than just food. One can’t overlook the copious amounts of meats, cheeses, and pastas, naturally; but Italian food, to me, seems to be about something more than just what’s on the plate. I’m not going to wax too rhapsodic about the communal and celebratory nature of Italian feasts, but let’s just say that Italian feasts offer a respite for the soul from the burdensome weight foisted upon it by a cruel and despotic reality, allowing it to blossom into its true and evanescent nature, nurtured by food, family, and friends, and imbuing in its very nature that which heaven and joy have imparted at their union in that most sacred and special of places, through no less than a repast fit for Gods, but befitting of we mere mortals. Also, it tastes good.
When I have people over for a night of greaseball Italian fun, you can bet your sweet, mocha ass I’m putting out a plate of antipasti, I’m wearing my badass gold chain, and I’m sure as hell not skimping on the Chianti that I make make in my bathtub (it tastes like going blind!). After the guests arrive, I usher everyone into the kitchen with me, to help out and to help themselves to whatever sous chef Bruno hasn’t eaten off the table. “But is there Frank Sinatra on, TCP?” Hooo, boy – not only is there Frank Sinatra on, but as an added attraction, I’m singing along to “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” like I was at the fuckin’ Copa! Shit, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in my charming little apartment during Eye-tie dinner time, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s more than a little reminiscent of the Bacchanals in ancient Rome (mostly because everyone’s throwing up, afterwards.) In other words, cooking a big Italian meal for friends and family is, perhaps, the best and most enjoyable use for a kitchen man has yet had the good fortune to devise. Here’s how you can achieve such a raucous, wondrous night in your own home, right after you buy a fuckin’ cool track suit.
Primo – Antipasti
Antipasti (Italian for “you can a-now commence-a the stuffing of-a you face”) is most commonly served as an appetizer platter of meats, olives, marinated vegetables, and Cheeses. There are really no rules when it comes to preparing your platter, but keep in mind that your wife probably isn’t going to let you get away with describing the three pounds of sausage on your plate as “an appetizer.” The key to a good antipasti plate, much like making your college seem more inclusive by photo-shopping a black dude and an Asian chick onto the cover of your admissions brochure, is diversity. By “diversity,” I mean, of course, “an ass-load of prosciutto and half a shit-ton of cheese.” The simple fact is that prosciutto, in my opinion, goes so far in its succulence as to push in on bacon’s territory (if only slightly) as king of the delicious pork applications. If I ever learn that kids in Italy get prosciutto and cheese sandwiches packed in their school lunch bags, I’m going to be seriously pissed off. Although, when I picture an Italian kid at recess, I see him smoking an imported Marlboro Red, drinking a glass of wine, and making kissing noises at the girls, so I guess it kind of fits. Fits like a glove made out of stereotypes.
Primo – Pasta
Unlike that pasta bowl you just ordered from Domino’s, the pasta course in a traditional Italian meal probably won’t feature a ton of meat, seafood, or poultry (nor unlimited breadsticks, I’m being told.) And, while you may view the pasta, itself, as a mere conveyance with which to get that cream sauce from the plate to your glutton-hole, Italians take pride in the intrinsic deliciousness of the noodle. I try to make my pasta from scratch as often as possible, but with me being lazy and that shit being hard, I’m often wont to opt for the dried stuff, instead. For the vast majority of home cooks, this is a better option than getting out your stand mixer, coating your entire kitchen with flour, watching the Reds’ season implode, and punching walls and pets when you realize that you did all that work for nothing (it’s kind of a metaphor for life, in that way.) Because Italian feasts generally equal the caloric intake of an entire African nation – approximately 10,000 calories (sorry, Africa) – I like to make the pasta course fairly light. Make a simple sauce of crushed San Marzanos, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, parsley, and salt and pepper. And, as always, kids, just put a little sauce in a pan and toss in the pasta with a little of the water. Serve with bread you painstakingly bought at Ralph’s.
Secondo – Meat or Fish
Now that you’ve already eaten a full dinner, it’s time for the main course! Generally speaking, the main course in an Italian dinner is comprised of cigarettes and tight pants, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the more traditional option of meat or fish (or meat stuffed with fish, if you’re having dinner at John Madden’s house and actually think this joke is funny.) Sausage, game, poultry, or even more prosciutto is great, and all, but I’m a big fan of roasting a whole fish for this course. This is mostly due to the fact that it makes me look like an honest-to-goodness chef, but also because I like the idea of serving my guests something that features pin bones (because at least one of them, at some point, will spill wine on my floor, that’s why.) The great thing about roasting a whole fish is that it’s easy and allows for lots of freedom in terms of seasoning, type of fish, and lying about how you caught the thing yourself. Take a fish and place it in foil. Add oil, a drizzle of white wine, salt and pepper, and lemon. Stuff the cavity with herbs of your choosing, you sick bastard. Make four slits half-way to the bone, cover with foil, making a large packet, and bake at 450 for 35 to 45 minutes. Bangzo! You’ve now got a nice, whole fish that you can serve family style. And because we’re talking about Italian food, here, you have full license to make some inane and unfunny reference to “sleeping with the fishes,” just like I did up there, because we’re totally the only ones who thought of that.
Dolce – Conclusion
By now you know that I don’t do desserts (unless they’re dressed provocatively and promise to leave afterward), so I’ll just use this section to wrap up the post. Big, Italian dinners are a great way to get together with friends and family, and have them eat all your food and never thank you for cooking, even though you spent $150 at Whole Foods, and stood in front of the stove all day, which wasn’t all that comfortable, because it was hot last weekend, and I don’t have air conditioning, and, also, I think the cat I adopted is probably crazy and bites me when I try to pet her, which really doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but fuck it, I’m on a roll.
So, anyway, grab your friends and family, put some gel in that hair, talk with your hands, lose your temper because someone looked at you wrong, and make some Guido magic in your very own home. And, remember, nothing goes better with Italian food than aggressively oggling pretty girls and telling them “Eh-oh, if you like dat sausage, hon, I got sumthin’ ovah heah you really gonna like,” while grabbing your crotch. P.S. If that doesn’t get you laid, nothing will. Mangiare!
19 March 2009
Hey! So here’s a fact to which your mother can no doubt attest: I love tactile eating. Perhaps it’s some primordial impulse that’s satisfied by eating with my hands, thus triggering a vestigial memory of clubbing a woman over the head and dragging her back to my cave by her hair, which would thus have begun an animalistic mating ritual. Or maybe it’s something else equally weird and misogynistic. Who knows. What I do know is that food eaten with my hands often tastes better to me, for some reason, than food eaten with a knife and fork; but that, admittedly, could be because I always have bacon grease on my fingers*. Of course, I’m not alone in my affinity for this type of food – I mean, when was the last time you used utensils to eat a slice of pizza, a cheeseburger, or a bowl of soup? And, come on, how fucking awesome is cracking crab legs open with your bare hands, forcing your meal to yield its meaty bounty? Really awesome, that’s how.
Normally, I hate work in any form. But having to exert a little energy while eating, I must confess, always seems to increase my satisfaction of any meal. For example: I’ve never gone hunting before, but I imagine that the feeling one gets in taking down a ten point buck is remarkably similar to the feeling one gets when cracking open a lobster claw and getting that perfect claw-meat bite – you know, the one which leaves not even the faintest remnant of flesh behind? And going to a baseball game, I’m sure, would be infinitely less fun without the necessary prestidigitation required of cracking open peanut shells at a clip of two pounds per inning. Actually, that’s not true at all – baseball would still be awesome, because who doesn’t like to drink ten beers at $8.00 a piece on a nice Spring afternoon? Seriously, I just did the math, and that’s, like, over $100. I blame it on steroids. And A-Rod.
My favorite meal to eat with my hands is the unfortunately French-sounding moules frites. You do need a fork to get the mussels out of the shells, but that’s a small price to pay for a dish whose deliciousness is matched only by its requisite manual labor and palpable sensuality. Simple to make and delicious to eat, making moules frites is great as an appetizer or for dinner, but mostly for seducing that girl whose pants you’re trying to get into without the use of GHB or a fake police uniform. Seriously, you make moule frites for a dame, and there’s no way you later don’t get her to pee on you while wearing a Jason Voorhees mask and a viking helmet, all the while singing the Russian national anthem in an unsettling falsetto. Talk about a great night! Here’s how to accomplish it…
For The Putting Of Stuff In The Pot:
For The Making Ready Of To Put Food In The Tummy:
Buy about a pound of mussels from your local mussel monger. They should all be closed, and try avoid those with questionable characteristics like chips, discoloration, or Aryan Nation tattoos. Cook the mussels in some white wine until they open, then remove them to a separate bowl. Keep the liquid in the pot, which is now infused with the bivalves’ liquor, and add some more wine… Speaking of liquor, you’ve had a hard day – why not take the edge off with a nice, refreshing, bad-thought-removing Knob Creek Manhattan? Just pour four ounces of smooth, delicious Knob Creek bourbon in a highball glass, over ice. Add in some some sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters, and a maraschino cherry, and let a little taste of Bullitt County, Kentucky, take your worries away. There, doesn’t that feel better? Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon: America’s Native Spirit… Anyway, on your cutting board chop up some garlic, parsley, and anchovies. Sprinkle with salt and make a paste using the side of your knife. Add the paste to the wine/liquor mixture and reduce, adding wine every so often and reducing further. Divide up your mussels into separate Pier 1 moules frites serving bowls, and when your sauce is done, stir in a happy ending of butter and pour liberally over the moules.
As for the fries, you can go the easy route and make the frozen variety, or you can, you know, sack the fuck up and fry your own, Rebecca. Get out a cast iron Dutch oven, and pour in your peanut oil (unless you’re allergic to peanuts, in which case, that sucks.) While bringing the oil up to a temperature of 320 degrees, julienne some russet potatoes on your potato cutty thing, and submerge in cold water. Pat dry until all excess moisture is removed, hopefully by utilizing your Potato Drying ShamWow (“It’ll have you saying ‘Holy fucking shit’ every time!”) Drop your fries in the oil and cook for a few minutes until they’re pale and pliable, like a Croatian gymnast whose success her parents are banking on so that they can become rich and famous and finally emigrate to the United States where they will open a car wash. Remove to drain on a cooling rack inverted over paper towels or your special French Fry Oil-Draining ShamWow. While those are cooling and draining, increase the temperature of the oil to 375. Re-introduce the potatoes to the oil and cook until golden brown and mouth-scorching. Seriously, try and resist the urge to bite into these fuckers right after they come out of the oil. Sprinkle with a little Celtic sea salt and place in a cone of parchment paper cradled in a pint glass. If you don’t have Celtic sea salt, feel free to substitute with salt cultivated from the Caspian sea. Put the whole shebang together by pairing your mussels and sauce with a big piece of crunchy french bread and your cone o’ fries.
A little while ago, I overheard some dude talking about how he was being made out as “the bad guy” in some undisclosed scenario, and ended the conversation by saying that he wasn’t going to be their scape goat. Only, instead of “scape goat,” he said “escape goat.” I can’t remember a time when I’ve laughed harder at anything than I did upon hearing that simple, utterly ridiculous phrase. I tell you this story because as awesome as this scenario was, moules frite is a good ten to twelve times even more awesome. And, seriously, once again: moules frite is perhaps the best aphrodisiac in the history of “food that makes people want to bone.” I mean, come on: there’s juices, and little vaginas, and eating with your hands, and me cooking it in my cowboy boots and nothing else.
*Also: whore stink.
Sometimes the best of things are also the simplest of things. Sometimes the ornate, indulgent, and festooned disappoint because their hauteur is uncalled-for and overbearing. The simplicity of certain things, rather than being a hindrance to their enjoyment, becomes the very predication for that thing’s beauty. Modesty and humility are not only attributes I don’t possess, but are also keys to some of the best things in life – and most of the time they serve to mask what is, in a thing’s very nature, a complex and wondrous soul. Golf, in it’s conception, is a beautifully simple game: hit little ball into little hole. When attempted, however, one quickly realizes that what was ostensibly, at least, a simple concept belies the true nature of the game as a gut-wrenching, agonizing, frustrating, and infinitely infuriating medium, designed solely to facilitate the hurtling of expensive clubs at innocent trees. Likewise, a good cigar seems on its face to be a mere cylinder of dried leaves. Light one up, however, and the smoker experiences flavors like chocolate, resin, berries, and entitlement.
The culinary equivalent of the above examples, I think, has to be the humble egg. Scrambled, fried, over-easy, or sunny side up, eggs are as easy to make as your sister is to get in the sack (hint: tell her she has pretty eyes.) Even the dumbest of chefs knows to heat the pan, throw in some butter, crack in some eggs, then cook until the desired firmness is reached. But if you’ve ever eaten Rachel Ray’s cooking, you know that even the simplest of dishes can end up tasting decidedly like evil. Rubbery, runny, or over-cooked eggs are unfortunately not as rare as they should be, given the inherent simplicity of the dish. Not to mention the fact that people continue to forbid the egg to speak for itself; rather, they load it with onions and meat and cheese and all manner of egg-spotlight-stealing accoutrement. Eggs, by themselves, are delicious. And, while certain additions heighten this deliciousness, it’s as easy to go overboard on this as it is for yours truly to go overboard at a scotch tasting. Take the omelet (please!): what should be a simple meal can easily turn into a breakfast calzone, with eggs serving as an ersatz crust, playing second-fiddle to its obnoxious cohabitants. The true omelet is a celebration of the egg. It is a simple meal made with care and respect for its ingredients. Actually, forget about all that “simplicity” bullshit I wrote back there, because really good omelets are fucking time consuming and difficult to make correctly. To wit:
Support The Economy And Buy This Stuff:
Eggs (if you use substitute I will punch you through the internet)
Chives, or some other herb
Support Your Tummy By Cooking This Stuff:
You’re going to need to pre-heat your pan over low heat for, say, ten minutes. This should provide ample time to make a bloody Mary and/or masturbate five times. Crack three eggs and scramble them in your Tiffany’s diamond egg-scrambling bowl with some salt and pepper. When your pan is heated, crank it up to medium-high, throw in a pat of butter, and toss in the eggs. Things are going to get pretty fucking real, right here, so try and keep up. Scramble your eggs in the pan for about thirty seconds or so. Let your omelet cook until it’s just a little bit runny on top, then immediately remove from heat. I’m not kidding when I say that you have about a twenty-second window to do this, or else your omelet will suck harder than Transformers. Throw on your toppings and let sit for another half a minute, off the heat. I’ll let you decide how to turn out your omelet, whether folded-over, french style, or in a tetrahedon. I like to pair my omelet with potatoes fried with bit of chorizo. In terms of toppings, remember that less is more. I prefer a little gruyere cheese and an herb of some sort.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve left off some important steps that make my own omelets better than having sex with Salma Hayak while the ghost of Otis Redding sings you a song. Experiment a little, though, and I’m sure you’ll figure out your own recipe to serve to that chick with low self-esteem you brought home last night. On to more important stuff: omelet/cocktail pairing can be dicey, as a Bloody Mary is generally too strong for the delicate dish, and a scotch on the rocks at ten in the morning will cause your mom to give you disapproving looks. I prefer a Salty Dog, stirred with fresh ice and grapefruit juice in a shaker. Make your omelet right, pair it with a perfectly poured drink, and your morning will be better than those when you were a kid and you woke up to a snow day. Though an eight hour Nintendo playing session is still highly encouraged (the Metroid dude was a chick?!?!? All that work for some kind of NOW propaganda?!?!? Oh, fuck that – where’s Tecmo Bowl?)*.
*Spoiler alert if you still haven’t beaten Metroid yet. The dude’s a chick.
6 February 2009
There are certain things in life that are unassailable in their logic, inarguable in their consensus, and inalienable in their inherent veracity. These are things we can always count on, never worried that we’re going to turn on CNN one day to find out that, behind closed doors, they like to text message pictures of their privates to underage pages. In this ever-changing world, we can count on them to stay staid and true. Among these are included the assertion that The Third Man is the most criminally underrated Film Noir of all time; that, while certainly delicious, Chicago-style pizza is bested by its nemesis from the Big Apple; that one’s perception of “time” can change dependent upon his relative motion in space; and, of course, that guilty feet have got no rhythm. Indeed, these “truths” extend to every category of American thought: Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame; Simon Van Der Meer never deserved that Nobel Prize in the first place; East Coast girls aren’t as “hip” as originally thought; and, if you ask my father, it all started to go wrong when I quit football. As an intelligent people, we know that those of us who don’t agree with the intractable truths listed above are “stupid,” “dumb,” and probably “Puerto Rican.” We can use these agreed-upon notions to weed out those among us with bad taste, inferior deductive reasoning, and addresses in Michigan.
Indeed, there are many truths in the culinary world, as well. These maxims serve as litmus tests for those people who know, love, and live for food, and those of us named Rachel Ray. Oh, sure, reasonable people may disagree on some of the following, but those people probably also liked the movie Crash, so fuck them. To be sure, we’re not talking about mere predilections and opinions based on taste – anyone can argue ad nauseum about their favorite dish, the most overrated chef, or if I’m “extraordinarily” handsome or merely “amazingly” handsome. What can’t be debated, however, is the fact that Frank’s is the best commercially available hot sauce. You see, to say that Cholula or Tabasco is the best would mean that you’re as dumb as a sack of rocks, worthy not of our pity, but of our mocking. These are the truths I’m talking about. These are the concepts which, if not agreed with, result in unrelenting derision from those of us in the culinary “know.” So, without further ado, feel free to peruse the following food truths and keep score to determine how big of an ass you are (hint: if you disagree with more than “zero,” you’re an enormous ass.)
Less Is More When It Comes To Pasta Sauce
There’s an old Italian saying which states: “Aaaaayyyy, what the fuck are you doin’, ova here?!?!? Knock it off with the fuckin’ sauce, you rat bastard, befores I’s gots to knock your fuckin’ head off!” Generally attributed to Herodotus, modern culinarians are wont to follow his sage advice. Pasta, after all, should be about, oh, I don’t know, pasta?!? The sauce should be an accompaniment, not the main attraction (unless your sauce is made of Beyonce, because good luck giving that trilling whore second billing.) And, as much as I love a Sunday dinner of spaghetti with homemade ragout, I don’t want to have to eat it like it’s marinara soup. As a general rule, the home chef should heed the advice of another wise Mediterranean thinker, Epicureus, who said “Oh, for fuck’s sake, just toss the pasta in the pan with your sauce, use tongs to transfer to a serving dish, and be done with it – it ain’t like it’s a fuckin’ soup, after all.” See, told you so.
No Ketchup On Hot Dogs, Ever
For starters, let me state that I love ketchup. I love it on burgers; I love it with meat loaf; I, of course, love it with fries; and, when I’m feeling especially frisky, I even love it with my fried egg sandwich. Ketchup is an essential ingredient in thousand island dressing and indispensable in many barbecue sauces. But, inasmuch as I respect the ubiquitous crimson condiment, I must insist on one rule regarding its usage: ketchup, for those of us over the age of ten, does not – cannot – belong on hot dogs. Why I am adamant about this rule I can’t say, as it’s more of an irrational pet peeve than a well thought out culinary maxim. And please do not think I mean to exclude all condiments from the list of acceptable hot dog toppings. Perish the thought! My yearly visits to my hometown would be wasted were it not for Skyline chili dogs, and who could visit chicago without getting a traditional dog loaded with whatever the fuck it is they put on hot dogs there. No, I’m speaking more to the baseball fan at the ballpark or the fourth of july party-goer: if you put anything other than mustard – yellow mustard – on your hot dog, anyone witnessing such an act of nitrate desecration is vested with the authority to repeatedly round-house kick you in the larynx. It’s in the Bill of Rights.
Martinis Are Not About The Vermouth
We American people take our drinks very seriously. We invented the tailgate solely for the purpose of imbibing for hours before athletic contests, during which we will subsequently drink fifteen $8.00 Bud Lights; we regularly participate in “Happy Hour,” which, despite its name is woefully inadequate when it comes to hand jobs; and we created a special lunch predicated on the notion of drinking three of the most favorite of American libations: the martini. Simple in its ingredients, a martini is not a cosmo, nor an apple-tini, nor that neon-colored concoction I just poured that GHB into. A martini is a humble mixture of Gin (or vodka) and vermouth, garnished with olives and a wondrous glow of intoxication. Unfortunately, many bartenders who keep 86ing me from their establishments insist on treating the quintessential cocktail as a mixed drink. They pour in vermouth, rather than merely bless the drink with it, thereby desecrating the crisp taste of the concoction. As a general The Chef’s Prerogative rule, please make martinis as follows: pour a small amount of vermouth in a shaker, add ice and a good gin, and stir for thirty seconds, strain into a martini glass and garnish with olives. There is, of course, some lee-way to this one: some prefer to merely coat the glass with the vermouth, some to coat the shaker and subsequently pour out. Either are fine alternatives, as they adhere to the general rule that one should never drown a martini in dastardly (yet regretfully necessary) vermouth. Indeed, as Winston Churchill once said of his method of martini mixology: a martini is best made by drinking a glass of gin while looking at a bottle of vermouth. I prefer to look, instead, at a picture of Megan Fox, but whatever.
Beef Is A Dish Best Served Cold. I Mean “Rare.” Beef Is A Dish Best Served Rare.
Outside of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there are few things more disappointing than beef that’s been over-cooked. I know that the government says that meat not cooked to, like, 500 degrees is going to give you worms, or whatever, but the government also says that if you smoke pot you’re going to kill little kids with your car, so fuck them. Beef, whether in burger, steak, or Philly cheese form is best when served as far from “well done” as humanly possible, while still being fit for human consumption. We’re not talking Chili’s “rare,” here, either. I’m talking Ruth’s Chris rare, where you’re a little alarmed at how rare it is (and at how you’re paying $40 for some cook to put a steak under the broiler for two minutes, total.) Truly rare steak melts in your mouth, tastes indescribably delicious, and is reason No. 2,384 why we’re better than the Hindus. After all, so what if you get the Mad Cow disease and have to go to the hospital for a month? Just apply to the know-it-all government for a bail out, and everything should be A-OK.
When Dressing Up For Dinner At A Nice Restaurant…
…Please, for the love of Karl Lagerfeld, tie your tie so that its falls no further than your belt. If your tie reaches your zipper, I can assure you that it will be the only thing approaching your crotch all night, if you get my drift. If you don’t get my drift, I’m trying to imply that the girl you’re with will be so put off by your sartorial faux pas that she will not want to touch your penis. You want her to touch your penis, don’t you? Don’t You?!?!?!? Do it for your penis, man!
Happy holidays, everybody, and welcome to The Chef’s Prerogative Christmas Extravaganza. I can’t tell you what a joy it is to have my family here by my side acting as my honorary sous-chefs, even if they still think this “cooking thing” is some kind of silly pipe dream. At least I’m not gay, right Dad? And I’d also like to take time to thank my wonderful, supportive friends who have made the trip here to be with me today and eat all my food that they didn’t help make. Can someone freshen up my Scotch? Thanks. Today marks a joyous occasion in the culinary world, as Christmas is one of the few times we get an opportunity to enjoy goose. Or is it geese? Whatever. Goose is akin to a duck, I think, but more of the female variety. Or is that a swan? We’re not cooking swan, are we? Okay, I just looked it up, and a goose is not a swan. Much like a duck, goose is covered in a luscious layer of subcutaneous fat which serves to keep the meat tender and jucy, and also covered in fat. Generally a flightless bird, gooses don’t fly; this means that their meat is not sinewy like a chicken’s or turkey’s, but smooth and silky, like that of a Laotion pool boy. Just kidding, Dad. This wine is fucking delicious, by the way; can you get me a refill? Great, thanks, Tom. So, anyway, I don’t want you beautiful, demanding people to think that goose is the only thing on the menu, though. Oh, no, we’ve got a bunch of delicious sides planned, as well, that I’ll also have to make! But I’m happy to do it. Verrrrrrry happy.
The side dishes will start off with Potatoes Anna. Now, I know that there are some people here today who aren’t big fans of carbs. But you know what has surprisingly few carbs, though? Shutting your face. Ha ha ha, just kidding, folks. Hey, Timmy – be a sport and go get Uncle TCP a bourbon, okay? If you’re confused about which bottle that is, it’s the one your Daddy starts drinking from right before he gets angry and yells at Mommy until she cries. Thanks, kiddo. For those of you who are trying to watch your weight over the holidays – Aunt Marie – I’m also featuring an orzo salad with lots of vegetables and herbs in the colors of the season. Hey! Someone put on Manheim Steamroller! I can’t cook without my Man-Steam. Don’t get too excited about the thought of Man-Steam, cousin Mike, or you’ll out yourself to your parents. Shit. Sorry. Anywho, you know what we should do? We should watch Christmas Vacation, tonight. I love that scene where Chevy Chase tells off his boss about how much he hates him and resents his lack of support for wanting to do something other than be a lawyer like your cousin Mike. Whew, this eggnog is strong. What an odd word “strong” is. Strrrrroooooonnnnggggg. Where was I? Thank you, Pat – yes, our final side dish will be the stuffing we cook in the bird. I’m fairly certain this won’t give us salmonella, but we’ll see, right? Jesus, Kim, you have really grown up – we’re not related by blood, are we?
Stuff We’ll Need
Definitely a strong Manhattan
Those little pasta pellets. I can’t remember what they’re called, but they look like rice
You know what’s another great holiday movie? Die Hard.
Green herbs. You know, I just realized this, but all herbs are green. So, “herbs.”
No, No, No – You Go Sit Down, I’ll Do All The Cooking:
Martin, I’m a grown-up adult person, and I’ll tell you when you- I’ve had enough. So, hey, we’ve got our swan thawed out and ready to cook in the cooking machine. Look very, very closely at the tempachure… temperchur…. temp-er-a-ture dial on your thing. It should read 350 350. Tell your two-headed cousin to help you up off the floor, then put your duck in the fridge. Oven. When nobody’s looking, sneak some whiskey in the coffee your grandma gave you to sober up with, even though she’s a hypocrite and smells like a distillery and also only sends you birthday checks for $5.00. In the meantime, let’s start on our sides, won’t you?
Peel your potatoes because no one is going to help you, and pull out that one thing that you rub stuff on and it cuts it. You know, the thing? Cut your potatoes about an eighth of an inch thick. Put ’em in a bowl or whatever, and cook them. Salt and pepper. But first, put your goose in the oven. DAVE! Put Manheim back on. MANHEIM !!!! Now that our potatoes and water fowl are cooking, let’s cook that other thing I talked about earlier. Will someone please hand me that margarita. When did I make margaritas? The pasta should be placed in boiling water, and then boiled. During this time chop up your herbs and some tiny tomatoes and onion. Mandoline! That’s what the potato-cutty thing is called. Mandoline.
I didn’t forget the giblets, Dad, I took them out before. And if not, I left them in on purpose. Geeses don’t have giblets! So now our geese is cooking in the stove, there’s potatoes there, and I chopped up herbs and things for stuff to put them in. This tryptophan is making me sleepy. Dave, I don’t come to where you live and tell you to stop drinking and embarrasing this family, I think I deserve the same respect in my house that my parents live in with me. Besides, who apointmented you king of the alcoholoic people? Never, that’s who! Someone put on the Harry Connick, Jr. Christmas CD. HARRY CON– Oh, it’s on. Thank you. Back to cooking… Karen, not for nothin’, but that sweater looks great on your boobs. Oh, lighten up, Josh – you paid for ’em; am I not supposed to look? Jesus, you people need a drinking to lighten up. Someone take the rice off the oven burner. Good, it should be the consistency of a nice mush. Drain in a collander and, no, wait, don’t drain in a collander – it just all goes away. Oh, well, let’s check on the potatoes. Where are my potatoes? Well why are they in the cupboard, Brian? No I did not put them there.
No, fuck you, Todd. Maybe you spilled that wine on yourself when I tripped and spilled that wine. And considering the Cosby nature of that sweater, I think whoever spilled that wine was doing this party a favor. Karen, take off your sweater and give it to Todd. And your bra. I’m just trying to have a little fun, folks; don’t get all serious on me. Where’s everyone going? What? Why?!?!? I am too not drunk! I’m just a little buzzed right now from being drunk, is all. I don’t know why everybody’s leaving – we’re getting ready to eat soon, once I’ve had a cocktail and cooked everything. Jim, take the goose out of the stove. What do you mean the goose is under the sink?!?!? I have no recollection of doing that. I think it was probably black people.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Unless you’re one of those liberals that O’Reilly warned me about, that is; in which case, happy Kwanzaa!
28 October 2008
“When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in [good football teams],
Featur’d like him, like him with [winning records] possess’d,
Desiring this man’s [Longhorns], and that man’s [Titans],
With [scotch] I most enjoy contented at last.
Penn State 13, Ohio State 6
Texans 35, Bengals 6
This week’s football-related mood is: Drunken Resignation