Make My Day
GOURMET COOKING FOR GUYS
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACU.S.E, Ind. -- I've spent the last 12 years of my life slowly transforming myself from a Guy (with a capital G) to a mature and responsible Man. But there are at least three people who believe there is no difference between a Guy and a Man: Bruce Cameron, author of "How to Remodel a Man," Oprah Winfrey, and he head of the Lifetime Channel.
But there are actually several important differences. Guys drive trucks, Men drive sports cars. Guys like football, Men like yard work. Guys use power tools, Men still have all their fingers and toes.
Since I've begun making this change, I've noticed lots of differences between Guys and Men. And since I'm also an insufferable know-it-all, it's my job to help other Guys make the same transition, but with slightly less pain and suffering.
This week, I want to talk about gourmet cooking for Guys, and how you can learn to make a gourmet meal without sacrificing your Guy-ness, or using the word "beautiful" to describe a vegetable. I've chosen gourmet cooking because this is more than heating up a microwave burrito or melting cheese on corn chips. This is real cooking with a real recipe.
First of all, remember that cooking is actually a Guy's activity, despite the mistaken belief that it's "just women's work." I'm actually surprised that Guys haven't taken it over from women. After all, there aren't a lot of other activities that have the three elements that make it suitable for Guys: knives, fire, and melted cheese. Today you're going to make something that can impress your friends and your wife or girlfriend. This is actually harder than it sounds, since they're polar opposites on the taste and appropriateness scale. So today we're going to learn how to cook Mexican food. True Mexican cooking is gourmet enough to impress your wife and her snooty friends, but still has enough beans for your friends' enjoyment a few hours later. First, you need ground beef or chicken. I don't know what we're making yet, but most Mexican recipes use one of these. If your wife is concerned about your health, use chicken. If she isn't, she will be, but in the meantime enjoy your freedom and use the beef. For this recipe, brown a pound of ground beef in a frying pan. Avoid saying "How now browned ground" while you cook. Use a strainer to drain the grease off the beef when it's done cooking. Next, you'll want 32 ounces of tomato sauce and a can of stewed tomatoes. Dump those into a pot and put it on a low "simmer." (Simmer: the next-to-lowest setting on your "stove.") (Stove: That thing on the top of the big box that gets hot.) Helpful Gourmet Tip #2: You can buy tomato sauce at the "grocery store" (that's the big place that sells microwave burritos and beer). You might be tempted to get the cheap cans of sauce, but this is gourmet cooking. Spend the extra twenty cents and get the good stuff. Dump in the ground beef, and add some basil, two chopped garlic cloves, some oregano, and a cup of red wine. Simmer this for 45 - 90 minutes. Use the biggest sharpest knife you can find to chop the garlic cloves into tiny pieces. It really doesn't matter what size of knife you use, but this is Guy cooking, so go big. Helpful Gourmet Tip #3: Use real spices, not the dried stuff in jars that you got for Christmas 1994. Also, remember a clove of garlic is the little piece inside the head of garlic. Don't confuse the two. You can find these things at the grocery store. They're in the section with the "vegetables." Next, bring four cups of water to a boil and drop in 16 ounces of penne noodles (these are the ones that look like macaroni but have the letters "P-E-N-N-E" on the box). Let them boil until they're soft with just a teeny tiny bit of "toothiness" (crunchiness) to them. This is also called "al dente." Make sure the sauce is still simmering while the noodles boil. Don't add any oil or salt to the water, and don't rinse the noodles when they're done. This helps the sauce stick better. When the noodles are cooked, dump them into a colander to drain the water, and then transfer them to a big bowl. Pour in the sauce, add a cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (use the real stuff, not the stuff that comes in the plastic container), mix it and serve to your wife and friends. Then, when your guests say, "Hey, you said you were making Mexican food. This is Italian," point out that you're a Guy. You've never stopped for directions before, and you're not about to start now. Bon appetit!