3 guides for men in the kitchen
Unmanly men need not apply. Or maybe I'm just being overly sensitive. Because just in time for Father's Day, there's a whole crop of new cookbooks aimed at guys, and I don't feel nearly manly enough to cook from them.
I suspect that's kind of the point. Not to make me feel badly, but rather to prod me to up my game. The message in the three books I found most intriguing seems to be that any guy — even complete kitchen clods — can and should get in the kitchen, and if you do you'll be surprised by how easy it is to make truly delicious meals.
Brawny: But to get you there, the books take on a certain brawny vibe. And this is not delicate fare. This is big, bodacious flavor with some serious meat action happening. They are, after all, playing to their market.
My favorite of the bunch is Billy Law's "Man Food: Good Food for a Good Time" (Hardie Grant Books, 2015), the cover of which is graced by a basket weave of bacon (which Law ultimately wraps around a jalapeno-studded meatloaf he calls the "Bacon Kaboom!"). There also are recipes for cider-glazed pulled pork sliders, caramelized pork belly and maple-chipotle sticky pork ribs.
Did I mention these books play to their audience? But true to that point, these recipes are approachable and lusciously appealing, assuming you're not counting calories.
Skewing slightly more educational — though not lighter — is Esquire magazine's "The Eat Like a Man Guide to Feeding a Crowd" (Chronicle, 2015). Here you'll learn everything from how to cook brisket and how to hold a knife to the best way to dispatch a lobster and how to clean mussels.
Esquire's recipes cover a broader range than Law's. But fear not, pig is still well represented. Slow-braised pork shank chili, anyone? The recipes also are nicely categorized as easy, reasonable and "worth the effort."
Refined: Finally, if you fancy yourself more of a refined Southern gentleman, there's a book for that, too. Matt Moore's "A Southern Gentleman's Kitchen" (Oxmoor House, 2015) is an inspiring and sometimes funky look at classic (and not-so) Southern cuisine aimed at getting guys feeling confident about busting out their own dinners.
This is the sort of book that has no trouble running recipes for fried dill pickle chips, raw oysters, stuffed grape leaves, bacon-wrapped duck and pan-fried bologna sliders alongside one another. And Moore does it without even a wink and a nod. Which kind of makes sense. Doesn't sound all that different from the way many guys forage.
— J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press.