25 August 2010
Cooking in the name of. I talk enough shit about Food Network, so it’s time to put up or shut up. I joke around a lot, but there are certain things you should know about cooking. And if the network seemingly devoted to the culinary arts ain’t going to do it, I will. What I hope to impart in these posts is a mini compendium of stalwart recipes which you can expand upon and make your own. Consider this the (semi) serious part of The Chef’s Prerogative.
Here’s what you should know about this post: (1) I’m fantastically drunk; (2) cooking is fantastically easy; (3) I really like the the adverb “fantastically;” and (4) I’m not altogether clear about what an “adverb” is. That having been said (or written, as it were), cooking is, as previously mentioned, easy. Not only easy, but wonderful. If you’ll permit me a bit of sentiment, I feel it’s my duty to digress. Cooking for those you love – or, if you’re like me, those you’ve just met at a truck stop, who may or may not be an actual lady – is a pretty special thing. Moms have done it for their families for ages, albeit with the help of Velveeta, bread crumbs, and Prego. Guys still drunk from the night before, but who are nonetheless willing to turn on a stove in the interest of morning sex, have done it, albeit with the help of one last gulp of tequila and several eggs of questionable expiration date. And I’ve even done it, albeit with the help of my ample member and a sensual kiss to the neck.
Cooking for someone special doesn’t entail – as Food Network would lead you to believe – a “Peruvian burger” or “meatloaf with a twist” or “Kwanzaa cake.” Even if you’re just cooking for yourself, cooking is a special thing. Cooking is a time when we can be masters. Cooking is a time when we can can take disparate pieces of nature and turn them into something which, hopefully, pleases without exception. Cooking is when we can have a three-foot space of fastidiously-controlled mise en place, which we can then utilize to make something that other people think is amazing. Cooking is when we turn that cramped, little space in our apartment into a concert hall – because, after all, we’ve made someone feel far more than they would have by, say, listening to Dvorak. You’re not going to paint a Matisse. You’re not going to blow like Miles Davis. You’re not going to compose a poem like Bukowski. But, in this life, what you can do; what has been imbued in you by the French masters, by the myriad recipes contained in your grandmother’s cigarette-stained library of culinary anachronism, by your will and whim to make those around you feel good; what you can do is be a master. You control how those who eat your food feel. You can make them happy. I don’t care if you’re the wife of an over-worked CPA, a husband to a big firm attorney, or a single guy who’s dying to make an impression; when you cook, you are in control. Not only of your ingredients, but of those who will experience what you have created. That, my handsome friend, is powerful. You are the chef – the knife; the ingredients; are yours. All you need is some passion, some technique, and some tried and true recipes. I can’t give you the first two, but with this inaugural in-between-post, I can endeavor to start giving you the latter. And with that, I get back to what this blog was all about: fucking recipes. Good, simple recipes. (And truck stop whores.)
So, let’s talk about risotto.
Risotto is three things: (1) short grain rice, (2) stock, and (3) confidence. The risotto you want depends most on the second of those aforementioned things. Pick a good stock, be it seafood, beef or vegetable, and then you’re off. Now for the serious shit: Heat some oil in pot No. 1. Put your stock in pot No. 2, on a different burner, and let it simmer. All the aromatics you need are a smattering of shallots. Sweat the shallots in pot No. 1 (keep the heat low – there’s no need to rush.) When the shallots are done, dump in your rice, and stir to coat with the oil (maybe one minute.) Splash with vermouth (or white wine) and let it burn off for about two minutes. Put in a bit of stock, and stir. Stir until the stock gets soaked up, then put in more stock. Don’t worry – it won’t take all that long. Keep doing this until you get the – sorry, my cat is nestling up to me, right now, and she’s just so cute – consistency of the rice you want (you want it to have a little bite.) This is your basic risotto recipe, and you can add to it as you see fit. Throw in some veg or parm or bacon or mushrooms, or whatever else is in your chef’s heart. Risotto couldn’t be more simple, and if you don’t use it to get laid, I will, personally, punch you in the head.
Man, cooking is great.