Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Cookbook for the Boy--Yea!

I think I've told you before about The Art of Manliness. It is the coolest place for those of us raising boys without the benefit of a significant grown man (if there is such a creature) in their lives. Today in the reader I ran across this from the site, The Art of Manliness: Man Cookbook. Here is an excerpt:

"There’s nothing like a hot and hearty stew to warm you up after working out in the winter cold. Ideally, a soup or stew should be eaten from a deep wooden bowl that you carved with your own hands. You should also be sitting in front of a warm fire that you built yourself. Extra man points are awarded if you eat said bowl of soup with a grizzly bear blanket covering your lap. Of course, you killed the bear with your own hands because that’s what men do. Now that everything is in place, you’re ready to let your delicious soup or stew melt the cold away and prepare you to get back to splitting wood and shoveling snow.

Shrimp Creole
Submitted by Todd McGillivray, -

Here's the deal. This recipe is food you only serve to people you like- or think you will. It's messy, it's embarrassing to other words, it brings everyone down to the same level, which is exactly where the hell they should be anyway. Pass out the lobster bibs and bottles of beer, and if you really like the folks, sit a container of baby wipes right in the middle of the table next to the shell bowl. They'll laugh, and then they'll thank you. It's even better the next day as an impromptu pasta sauce or stir-fry add-on.


• 1 pile of big-ass shrimp, preferably uncooked and with the head on. Needless to say,
when I'm at the family compound, we end up with cooked and cleaned and headless. But
my way tastes better. This makes enough sauce for two pounds.
• 1 white onion, somewhere between the size of a baseball and a softball, chopped fine
(1/8th inch dice)
• 1 green pepper, seeded and deribbed (obviously), chopped fine
• 3 stalks of celery, ends off, chopped fine between 2 and 6 cloves of garlic, minced. I like lots.
• an embarrassing amount of butter, like a stick at least
• heavy handful of all-purpose flour
• 1 can of good canned tomatoes - if they're whole, give 'em a rough chop (as in "stick knife in can, chop a little")
• lil' bit of tomato paste is good too, but only add it if you've got some kicking around already, don't go opening up a new can
• some cayenne pepper
• salt and pepper
• bay leaves
• thyme (dried's fine)
• chicken stock
• Jack Daniels (one shot)
• hot sauce (I like Frank's 'cause it doesn't adjust the flavor of the
• rest of the ingredients, but follow your heart/ulcer)
• cooked white long grain rice, if you're serving this as a meal. You do NOT use that weak short grain or calrose rice with this culinary gold, and if I even catch you THINKING about need individual grains that separate in the sauce, not something that feels like a third-grade spitball in your mouth.

• An enameled cast-iron dutch oven, or failing that, the heaviest pot you have - you want something that'll take to a low simmer well.
• Something that allows you to scrape large quantities off the bottom of the pot quickly - the biggest spatula-type thingy you've got.

Alright. First, you do the shot of Jack. (kidding, unless you want one. I've been known.) Get your mise-en-place together (read: do your chopping now), because once you start, you'll want everything handy to the pot. Stick the big-ass pot on a medium flame and melt the butter. When it foams and recedes, it's ready. Fire the onion, garlic, celery and pepper in there and stir occasionally until the onion is translucent. Then you flip the flame up to "Fourth Circle of Hell", grab a handful of the flour, fire it into the pot and start stirring the everloving crap out of it. You want to absorb the butter and veggie liquid with the flour, and then have the Cajun Napalm (aka: the roux, you posh bastard) adhere to the veggies. Stir, stir, stir, and eventually the flour will turn a nice light brown. Actually, it's a little faster than eventually when you cook at high heat. If you blacken the flour, start over. You cannot save it from that point, and it'll taste like carbon, and carbon is not a flavor, it's a mistake. If you're nervous, do this at the same medium heat. It
just takes forever, and while you and I appreciate that great food can take a great deal of time, we're not making a goddamn cassoulet here. Once the flour's nicely brown (think Halle Berry), you pour in the can of tomatoes with the liquid, a healthy shot of the cayenne, same amount of thyme, a serious shot of pepper, a couple bay leaves, and enough chicken stock to cover the amount of shrimp you bought. It's all eye here. You also add the shot of Jack. Have some for yourself, too. You've earned it. Bring the mess to a boil, cover it, and gently simmer it for like a half-hour, hour, whatever. You just want the flavors to come together. Stir every ten minutes or so. Taste it every so often and adjust the salt (totally dependent on the saltiness of the chicken stock; I buy the low-sodium stuff so I've got a little more control). Once everything's merged into something that approximates what I served you and has reduced into a thick red sauce, you can add the shrimp. If you need more liquid to cover the shrimp, add water, chicken stock, beer, whatever's handy. Once that shrimp is pink, it's done. Pour into an enormous bowl. Take the rice and put it in another big bowl. Service is easy - place rice in individual bowl, add lots of shrimp and sauce over top. Serve with amazing bread and real butter and beer. That's all you need. Seriously. Although a nice red Zinfandel (Ravenswood from the Napa Valley is a good default) works beautifully with this too. If anyone complains about the mess, you have to ask yourself a serious question: why is this person my friend?
This serves six or eight as a starter (omit the rice) or four for dinner, and hopefully leaves you with some leftover. Can be doubled, tripled, etc. I find this is the right amount for about two pounds of shrimp. And this works REALLY well with the jumbo shrimp, so splash out...or use the 21-30 counts and serve over a medium-rare steak. I mean, it's versatile as hell."

:) I'm hungry now...


  1. I'm hungry too. I just made a hugenormous pot of ham and bean soup. From scratch. Cooked it all damn day and then froze it. After smelling it all day I couldn't bring myself to eat it! lol

  2. mmm, that sounds wonderful! but i know what you mean...i've cooked so much chili this football season, if i even smell it, i gag, so now i have a freezer full. that's the great thing about soup though...that it freezes well. hey, i'll trade you some chili for some ham and bean soup? :) just curious...what kind of beans did you use? i love ham and bean soup...i usually use great northerns, and have used pintos, but, i'm open to suggestions...