Men love food. Don’t question it because it just is. There is an old saying that “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” (thank you, Carnivore) and I have always found this to be very true. I’ve said before that this idea that caring for a man makes his wife somehow his mother is crazy. Caring for a man simply shows the appreciation that you feel for everything that he does to care for you. If he brings home the bacon then you should cook it and learn how to cook it well.
There are certain foods that most men prefer and it really boils down to meat. Men love meat. The inspiration for this post partly came from what one sometimes hears happening in a marriage where the wife will cook what many would consider bird food for her husband in a effort to keep him healthy. (By the way, meat is healthy) I don’t know how often this actually happens in a marriage, but it is a bit of a stereotype. I also understand the motivation behind it. We want our men to be healthy because we want them to be with us for a long time. But we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. If we want them to be healthy they also have to be happy. Meat makes men happy. I mean, close their eyes, juice dripping down the chin, moaning with pleasure, happy. If you have ever had the pleasure to witness this then you understand what I mean. It is also one of the reason I love to cook. I love food (seriously, I love it), but I actually get more pleasure out of watching someone eat my food than I do eating it myself.
So, ladies, learn to cook meat, or if it’s not meat, learn what your husband absolutely loves. I don’t care if it is the most unhealthy thing you have ever seen in your life. If he loves it, you need to learn to cook it, even if you only make it once a year, it’s important.
Mmmmmm. I love steak. So does Maritus and it really is easy to grill. (WARNING! If your husband is the grill master, do not attempt this. Back. Away. From. The. Grill. You will feel the slap of his hand on your backside even as he is 20 miles away at work. He will know. ;) I do suggest, however, that you ask him to show you how it’s done. He might truly enjoy teaching you.)
~ The trick with steak is to get the grill extremely hot. I usually wait until it gets to about 500F. This will caramelize the meat on the outside while holding in all the juices.
~ Don’t use a fork to flip it, use tongs as you don’t want to make holes to allow the juices to escape.
~ Only flip the steak one time!! Don’t keep flipping it. You can get some really nice grill marks on it by turning it 90 degrees while you’re cooking, but only flip it once. It becomes tough if you flip it too often.
~ Learn how he likes his steak cooked. In my experience most men like it either rare or medium rare (but still with a faint *moo* in the background). Here is a handy chart that will help you to know when the steak is cooked to his liking. Push on the meat at it’s thickest point with a fork or your finger. When it feels like it should in the picture below, remove it from the grill and tent it with tin foil for about 10 minutes. This lets the meat rest and allows the juices to reabsorb into the flesh. It will be more tender and more flavorful.
~ Learn what he likes on his steak. I just use a good salt on it. No rub or anything, but this will be different for each man.
A Big Breakfast
Men also seem to love a big greasy breakfast, also laden with lots of meat. Maritus just finished telling me that his favorite breakfast that I ever made him was one morning when I had forgotten to take the sausage out of the freezer. Just eggs weren’t enough, the kids had eaten all the bacon and I was in a pinch. I checked the fridge and the previous night’s steak was in there. I threw that in the pan with the eggs and served it to him. He was in breakfast heaven. It was so fun to watch.
Here is the best way to make your man’s eggs:
~ Always save your bacon grease (Also, I cook bacon in the microwave as it cooks more evenly). Get some pyrex jelly jars so they don’t break when you pour in the hot grease. The grease keeps for a very long time in the fridge. Just keep adding your drippings to it. I keep two jars going so I can wash the jars out as needed. Put a dab in the bottom of the pan and add your meat (leftover steak, country ham, breakfast sausage) and let this cook for a bit.
~ If needed (as may be with ham or steak) add more bacon grease when the meat is about half through cooking. Swirl the meat around in the pan to spread out the greases or better yet, move the meat to the other side of the pan (steak might not work with this as the flavors might not be as good as ham or sausage) and then cook the eggs in the pan juices from the meat and bacon grease. Add some salt to the top of your eggs and cook them to his likeness. If he does low-carb he can sop up the egg yolk with the meat. If not, make a couple of slices of toast.
We don’t eat too many white potatoes here, but they are still a wonderful happiness food. For breakfast you could do hash browns, or home fries (again, cook them in bacon grease. It gives amazing flavor) but our favorite is something call roesti (pronounced ROO-stee).
This makes a really good side dish for dinner with anything that has some kind of a think gravy (and meat, of course. This pairs very well with veal. It comes from Switzerland where it is traditionally served with Veal Zurich) and it also goes very well with the mornings eggs. It uses an absurd amount of grease and salt but it is very much worth it. Also, be patient with this one as it’s not terribly easy to make.
~ Start with left over boiled and peeled potatoes (Three or four of good size at least, I’d say, for about 4 people, though you may want to use more if they would like a bigger serving). They should be at least a few hours old so they have a chance to dry out of bit. If they are freshly boiled the potatoes will be soggy.
~ Grate the potatoes on the medium holes of a box grater.
~ Add a good amount of salt and a bit of pepper (Sorry there are no measurements. I just add and taste). Add a few shakes and then taste them. You want them to be a bit on the salty side, but not overly powerful. You may also wish to add some garlic powder or onion powder or even a bit of diced onion and/or mushrooms. We prefer just the salt.
~ Get a good size skillet (cast iron or non stick will work the best) and add the potatoes on medium low heat. Add an obscene amount of bacon grease and butter (use more butter than bacon grease as the flavor will be too bacon-y. You want to add some of the flavor but not take away from the potatoes). After it melts, gently mush the potatoes down to cover the whole bottom of the pan and let cook. These take a while to cook as you want to keep the heat fairly low. If you cook them too fast they will become soggy, depending on the thickness of the roesti. Every so often, use a spatula to check the color of the potatoes.
~ Once they are evenly a medium brown, it is time to flip them. Julia Child recommends just going for it and doing the chef flip of the wrist. It is incredibly hard to do with this number of potatoes. If you are making a small roesti this might work. But for a family size one, I recommend getting a plate, placing it upside down over your frying pan and quickly flipping the roesti onto the plate. Add another heaping pile of bacon grease and butter and gently slide the roesti back into the pan. It will lose it’s form a bit but just use your spatula to put it back together. Don’t worry too much if this doesn’t come out pretty. Pretty food is nice and all, but it is the taste that is important. If it tastes good, the men are not going to care one whit whether it’s pretty or not.
~ When the flip side is also a nice golden brown, gently slide the roesti onto your plate, cut in triangles like a pie, and serve.
I have so many other man dishes I would like to share with you, but this post is already getting overly long. I will post more another time, especially as the holidays are approaching. If you only take one thing away from this, just remember, cook what your man loves, even if only once in a while. It will make him incredibly happy and you might be surprised at how happy this makes you as well.
***I would like to ask how much my readers are interested in recipes or what you might like to learn about cooking. I posted this just as much for my enjoyment as I hope yours but if there is not much interest in it, I don’t wish to bore you with posting too many more. Let me know what you think.
Commenter Phedre provides the following technique to make a steak. It sounds amazing.
My man, like most, used to swear by high-heat grilling for steaks until I figured out a different technique. Now he never orders steak out because mine is ‘the best’. Try it if you get a chance. Like most women I used to like but not love steak, until now.
The steak must be a good thickness or you won’t get a really mindblowing crust. Heat the pan (not nonstick) over medium-medium high heat (the thinner the steak the higher the heat will need to be).
If the steak is dry-aged you can just pat it dry, otherwise wrap it in paper towels a couple hours in advance. Salt and pepper liberally and pat it into the meat with your hand. Put a huge spoonful of fat into the pan. You’ll get the best flavour with ghee (clarified butter), but coconut oil is also nice. Lard, tallow, or olive oil would also be ok. There should be a lot of fat in the pan, enough to come up the side of the steak by a couple millimeters.
As soon as the fat is shimmering (5-10 sec) gently place your meat down. It’ll take a while to get the crust. Make sure the meat is sitting on top of the oil. Once it looks nicely browned, flip. Likewise on the second side. If your steak was thick enough it should not be done yet. Although the surface looks browned it is not yet crusty. You want it to give it another while on each side. This is key to really making a mind blowing steak. With the second stage frying the oil gets into all the surface crevices and makes them crispy. It’s kind of like how you fry French fries in two stages.
Now I go unorthodox and slice the meat right away so that the crust doesn’t soften, but if you cook yours beyond rare you might prefer to let it set so the juices redistribute.
Update 2: Average Married Dad has an excellent meat post today, too. Check it out.