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.

For Puritans, the Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

Little known fact: although Puritan in religious belief, The Pilgrims were sexy as hell.

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.

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The Stath likes his fish & chips with a healthy dose of malt vinegar and smoldering gaze.  P.S.  You're welcome, ladies (and The Chef's Prerogative's penis.)

The Stath likes his fish & chips with a healthy dose of malt vinegar and smoldering gaze. P.S. You're welcome, ladies (and The Chef's Prerogative's penis.)

When I was a wee lad I, like everyone else on the planet, read the book Angela’s Ashes. For those few among you who haven’t read it (or seen the movie I forgot that I saw, until just now), it tells the story of Angela, a secret agent in MI-6, and follows her through Europe as she exacts revenge for her murdered partner, one bad guy at a time, until she’s finally able to scatter her fallen comrade’s ashes in his hometown of Ankara.  At least that’s what I wish the book was about, because the actual novel was more depressing than an average Cincinnati Bengals season.  A well written book, it nonetheless made me feel sad every time I picked it up – perhaps so sad that I will one day write a harrowing memoir about me reading it, which will no doubt surpass the original in out-and-out depressing subject matter.  One thing the book definitely had going for it, though – aside for Frank McCourt’s writing – was his description of the hunger he and his siblings endured, as well as the attendant joy and sensory overload which accompanied the  occasional sussing-out of a real meal.  In particular, he glowingly describes how he would occasionally have the pleasure of fish & chips, that most iconic of British pub food.  And, man, does that motherfucker make fish & chips sound good.  Listen to this part, after our tiny, hungry, kleptomaniacal hero steals fish & chips from some courageous, passed-out drunk: “[I] thank the drunken man in my mind for drowning the fish and chips in vinegar and smothering them in salt and then I remember that if I die tonight I’m in a state of sin for stealing and I could go straight to hell stuffed with fish and chips but it’s Saturday and the priests [all right, that’s enough]…”  See, aren’t you craving some fish & chips, right now?  And commas?  I don’t know if I’d had fish & chips until I read this book, and I am eternally grateful to it for making the dish sound too irresistible not to try.  In other words, I guess I’m saying that Frank McCourt’s terrible, impoverished childhood was probably worth it.  I’m just glad he could pull himself up by the bootstraps and build enough wealth to finally buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I'm including this picture of Sohpie Howard because she comes from the land of fish & chips.  I'm also including it because I think it serves as a reminder of how disgusting the fur industry is.  The sexy, sexy fur industry.

I'm including this picture of Sophie Howard because, well, you ladies got The Stath, up there. I'm also including it because I think it serves as a reminder of how disgusting the fur industry is. The sexy, sexy fur industry.

I was recently looking at a map (of the world, no less) and discovered that true fish & chips are located very far away from me.  The British pubs around my neighborhood make delicious versions, sure, but it’s just not the same unless your meal is interrupted by some Man U fan hitting you in the face because he takes your blue jeans as a sign that you’re a Chelsea supporter.  I think those are soccer teams – did I do that right?  Good fish & chips, though, does not require a first-class ticket on a Virgin Airlines flight, a stay at the Savoy, or thinking Eddie Izzard is funny.  No, fish & chips can be made right in your very own home, after you’ve drunk eight pints of Guinness and four shots of Bushmill’s.  So let’s get to it, mate, an’ cook some chips, yeah?

Stuff To Put In Your Lorrie

Oil
Cod pieces (or, “cod fillets,” if you don’t want to be hilarious about it)
Flour
Spices
Potatoes
Other stuff I’ll list once I think you’re ready to read it

Fish

Fresh Fish!  Fresh Fish!  Fresh Fish!
Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish! Fresh Fish!
Cod has been the go-to fish for this meal ever since they signed an exclusivity contract with the dish in 1924.  I’m glad they did, because cod is a perfect counter-part to the richness of the batter and chips.  It’s light and flavourful, and more flaky than me when I promise that I’ll totally go see that play with you.  But the cod is only one part of what makes this meal great.  Like most things that are awesome, the best part comes from the batter.  In our case, the batter is made from flour, baking soda, salt, pepper, and glorious, wonderful beer.  Dredge the fish in the flour, dip in the batter, then gently submerge in a pot full of oil (heated to 160 degrees, Celsius.)  remove to drain while you’re finishing your chips and thinking how maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if the English had won the Revolutionary War, after all.  Sorry, General Washington!

Chips

Not pictured: jokes that aren't unfunny and obvious.  Also not pictured: not using double negatives.

Not pictured: jokes that aren't unfunny and obvious. Also not pictured: not using double negatives.

Oh, french fries, your temperamental nature reminds me of a woman.  Or a cat.  Or of a half-woman-half-cat vindictive beast, that I would still probably have sex with, even though I knew what I was getting myself into.  Why you seem to burn at a temperature just five degrees higher than that at which you’d cook perfectly vexes even the most patient of chefs.  That you are so delicious makes us forgive (and devour) you.  The bottom line is this: I could write a long instruction manual about how to make great fries from scratch, but I just don’t think it would do you any good.  Much like making a ten-foot putt to save par or staging a political or military coup in a country hostile to America’s pecuniary interests, making fries is much more about feel than academics.  For our purposes, cut your fries thicker than you think you should, fry them once at a low temperature, then let them rest while you fry your cod.  Cook them once more at a high temperature, remove to drain, and sprinkle with salt.
Heny Kissinger sez: "Coup?  What coup?  I have no idea what you're talking about.  Those chips sound good, though."

Heny Kissinger sez: "Coup? What coup? I have no idea what you're talking about. Those chips sound good, though."

Our Harrowing Conclusion
I would tell you to serve your fish & chips on a newspaper, in the traditional fashion, but because those don’t exist anymore, I guess you’ll have to serve it on your laptop while you display the online version of your favorite daily.  And, like the young Frank McCourt would say: “Oy, mate – serve ya fish & chips wit a noice helpin’ ‘a salt and mawlt vinega’.”  I like a side of tartar sauce, as well, but that’s mostly because I’m a fan of Eurasian ethnic groups.  However you serve your fish & chips, enjoy.  Then punch anyone in the face who dares to say that British cuisine is gross.  Unless they’re talking about haggis, in which case they may or may not be wrong.
New sous-chef, Ella Chairman Meow Who Dey, sez: "All your pants are belong to me.  Did I hear someone mention fish?"

New sous-chef, Ella Chairman Meow Who Dey, sez: "All your pants are belong to me. Did I hear someone mention fish?"

The LOLCats couldn't believe Terrell Pryor fumbled, either.

The LOLCats couldn't believe Terrelle Pryor fumbled that ball, either.

“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

a

John sez: "I'm here because I once played a character named 'Chili Palmer.' Also, I heard something about The Chef's Prerogative cooking without a shirt on, and thought I'd check it out."

Much like barbecue, pizza, and places in the U.S. where I don’t have to worry about outstanding warrants, chili predilections are largely governed by American regional geography and asshole sheriffs.  Texas chili, for instance, eschews vegetables and beans in order to focus on beef and peppers.  The southwest, however, is less draconian in their recipes, and readily allows for both tomatoes and legumes.  San Francisco cares not what’s in your chili, so long as I’m making it with my shirt off (hi, John!).  Not only are the recipes as varied and sundry as the races against which I’m prejudiced, but so are the myriad toppings, sides, and secret ingredients which make chili so personal a dish.  I’ve had chili with a peanut butter sandwich on the side, I’ve had chili served over Fritos and topped with cheddar cheese, I’ve been served chili made with lamb, and I’ve even had sex with my friend Doug’s mom while she was re-heating a bowl of chili for me, which she had made the night before (sorry, Doug!).

a

"But, Mrs. Williams, what do you mean, 'I hope you brought the sausage?' I'm just here to see Doug. But, what do you mean, 'by 'sausage' I meant 'your penis' and 'I want to have sex with you before Doug gets home?' You're very confusing, Mrs. Williams."

And while “the best” style of chili is certainly up for debate, there’s one thing we can all agree on: the best style of chili is Cincinnati-style chili.  For those of you who may be used to traditional chilis with cubed meats, heavy on the peppers and spices, Cincinnati chili will be as foreign to you as good chili.  The best place, by far, to get good Cincinnati chili is at Skyline Chili, located not only in Ohio, but also in other neighboring Midwestern states you’ll never visit.  Some differences in Cincy chili you’ll be able to recognize right away: it utilizes ground meat instead of large chunks, its “sauce” is less viscous than its southern counterpart’s, and, lastly, it gets put on fucking everything.  Another difference lies in the secret ingredient (which isn’t secret anymore because everyone knows it): chocolate.  Now, I hate chocolate.  I hate it in cake form, bar form, kiss form, and Charlie and the Factory form.  I just don’t fucking like it, and I don’t understand people who speak about it in hushed, rapturous tones – those should be reserved for adulation of scotch (and maybe Wayne Newton.)  So you assholes can do me a favor and stop looking at me weird when I say I don’t want any of that birthday cake you brought in for the secretary – you’re the odd ones, not me.  NOT ME!!!!  In chili, however, chocolate doesn’t overpower, but instead plays nicely with its bolder counterparts.  Chocolate merely compliments and enhances other, better flavors.  In fact, chocolate thinks it heard of a similar chocolate/savory relationship from his Mexican co-worker, Mole, who chocolate thinks has probably been stealing office supplies. 

Direct from the Library of Congress

I got this straight from the U.S. Department of Maps and Stuff

Now living amongst the beautiful people, where I belong, I can no longer get a decent Cincinnati chili.  My only opportunity comes once a year, or so, when I go on my annual pilgrimage to my parents’ house, in a tradition they like to call the “Your Drinking Is Ruining This Family” Summit.  And, while this time is generally marked by secret scotch binging, intra-familial stabbings, and lots and lots of crying, being able to get Skyline chili makes it all worthwhile.  The beauty of Cincinnati chili is that you never really order a “bowl” of it.  Rather, you merely pick the conveyance on which you would like your chili served.  The two most popular choices are hot dogs and pasta, both of which come as either a 3-way (with chili and cheese) or a 5-way (with chili, cheese, onion, and beans), neither of which were easy to refrain from making a joke about in reference to the fact that 3-ways and 5-ways could also describe sex with three or five people, respectively.  Boobies and vaginas! (ah, that feels better.)

Ingredients:

Ground chuck (or Tom, or Dave, or whatever hobo you happen to have laying around your basement)
Onion
Water
Garlic
Tomato sauce
Cider vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Spices: ground peppercorns, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, salt, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and cumin
Unsweetened chocolate

Cook, While Watching the Bengals Lose:

Bring the water to a boil, and throw the meat in.  Reduce to a simmer, then, uh, I guess just throw in the rest of that shit as well, maybe?  Cook until it looks, smells, and tastes like Skyline chili.  If it looks, smells, or tastes like something else (or just bad, in general) please understand that this reflects on your poor cooking skills moreso than on my recipe, which is awesome.  If, however, after several hours of simmering, you end up with some beautiful, delicious chili, then: congratulations – I can’t believe that worked!  Boil some pasta and top it with a little bit of Cincy.  Make some hot dogs and introduce them to the Queen City.  Whatever you do, make sure to add several pounds of grated, iridescent orange cheddar cheese – now  you’re eating like a true Midwesterner.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Correct.

Correct.

 

Add in an amputee, Skyline chili-dogs, that three-boobed chick from "Total Recal," and a laotian pool boy, and you've fulfilled my fantasy evening.

Add in an amputee, Skyline chili-dogs, that three-boobed chick from "Total Recall," and a Laotian pool boy, and you've fulfilled my fantasy evening.

Thank you, sweet, merciful, tap-dancing Christ: Football is finally back.  -Ish.  Today’s Hall of Fame Game marks not only the first outing of the ’08/’09 season, but also the end of having to cut myself every Sunday in order to distract from the emotional devastation caused by the lack of NFL games.  This is kind of how I feel right now:

This is football

This is football

 
This is me (that's a dude, right?)

This is me (that's a dude, right?)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is us, together.  Only, picture this with more Whitney Houston music.

This is us, together. Only, picture this with more Whitney Houston music, and less '70's.

 
As you can tell, this is a very happy day for me.  But this is a food blog, after all, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the return of football also gives me a socially acceptable excuse to eat horrible snack food and drink unspeakable amounts of booze.  This first game, though merely an exhibition featuring back-ups and a conspicuous lack of effort, will be no exception.  The following is a recipe for a perfect Hall of Fame Game menu.
 
Ingredients:
Take-out Buffalo wings
Bottle of The Glenlivet
Hot chick
Football mix-CD
Your screamin’ voice
 
Preparation
Put on your football mix CD and rock out for a while (mine consists of fourteen straight tracks of “Welcome to the Jungle.”)  Bang a hot chick, then tell her to go out and get you some wings and a bottle of scotch.  Upon returning with said items, tell the hot chick to scram, ’cause you’ve got to get your football on.  Once the game starts (you should have already drunk the bottle of scotch and moved on to beer), use this as an opportunity to practice your screaming for when the real thing gets here AND THE MOTHERFUCKING, COCK-SUCKING BENGALS FAIL TO REACH THE GODDAMN PLAYOFFS, AGAIN  !!!!!!!
 
Soon to be the only connection Buffalo will have to football.  Sorry, Buffalo.

Soon to be the only connection Buffalo will have to football. Sorry, Buffalo.

 _____________________
P.S.  this should clear up any confusion as to the above lion reference, should any of you be, like, totally out of touch, dude.