Yes, it's 2011. And yes, we are still falling into the tired stereotypes about cooking: Women make the salads and bake, and men cook the meat--preferably on the grill. In Esquire's Eat Like a Man, there is not a salad recipe to be found (potato salad doesn't count), just one dessert recipe, and nearly every recipe includes meat. The thing is, this is a really great cookbook. And the reality is, many stereotypes exist for a reason. If there is one cookbook that will inspire the cooking-averse men you know to get into the kitchen, this may be it.
With Father's Day around the corner and young men soon heading out of the nest and off to college, you could do worse than to arm them with advice about entertaining from Ted Allen, cheese tips from Anne Saxelby, booze wisdom from David Wondrich, and recipes like White Bean and Italian Sausage Chili, Duck Fat Potatoes, and French Toast BLT.
The folks at Esquire know good layout. Eat Like a Man looks a lot like the magazine. The font is sharp and clean, the pages have plenty of white space, and there are little graphs showing the difficulty level of each recipe. The 100 or so recipes are from chefs like Michael White, Scott Conant, Bryan Voltaggio, and Seattle's own Kevin Davis. Nearly every recipe includes a mouthwatering photo of the completed dish, and while many serve just one or two (especially the breakfast and lunch dishes), others serve four or six, perfect for inspiring men to cook dinner for their friends or family.
The book is divided into basic chapters for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, dessert, and drinks. There is but one dessert, a fruit crisp. But as the authors say, it's the only dessert recipe you'll ever need. In addition to contemporary recipes, there are recipes from the Esquire archives from 1955, things like French onion soup, beef Stroganoff, and deviled crabs. A lot of recipes are geared towards the sophisticated urban set. They suggest Berkshire pork for one recipe, and to ask your butcher to debone your chicken for another. And they unapologetically call for ingredients like guanciale and challah, without any suggestions for substitutions.
Throughout Eat Like a Man are informative sidebars and sections like "The Steak Information Center," with tips on grades of beef and tips for cooking the perfect steak, "Four Techniques Every Man Should Know," and " The Five-Minute Guide to Oysters." And in the "What I've Learned" lists, culinary luminaries such as Thomas Keller and Julia Child share wisdom like "Eggs are the perfect food" (Keller) and "There is nothing worse than grilled vegetables" (Child).
Many recipes are for simple but tasty basics like roast chicken, while others--like the béchamel-topped Croque Monsieur--will require some cooking savvy. Some are one-pot dishes, but others require multiple pots and pans. And in a fun use of leftovers, the Resuscitated Pizza recipe calls for reheating pizza in the oven, topped with some freshly grated cheese, then sautéing some bacon and frying an egg to put on top the warmed slice.
Read for Part II of this week's Cooking the Books and a recipe from Eat Like a Man.