Kitchen Fundamentals: How to Make a Whole Roasted Chicken

by Matt Moore on February 25, 2011 · 77 comments

in Cooking, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

During my senior high school football season, my coach forced me to make the switch from linebacker to wingback. Initially, I was excited about being on the offensive side of the ball. Envisioning my name in print for scoring the winning touchdown in Saturday’s newspaper had quite the appeal. Besides, I had spent the past three years on the other side of the coin, and since defensive players rarely get the recognition they deserve, I was ready to get my moment in the sun.

Boy was I wrong. My coach did not intend for me to carry, much less catch the ball. Instead, he wanted to use me as an oversized blocking back. Out of a playbook of over a hundred plays, only one offered the opportunity of getting the ball into my hands. Oh well.

Never to be discouraged, I embraced my new role as wingback. For me, playing defense was always relatively simple: A) Find the man with the ball B) Tackle the man with the ball. Offense, however presented new challenges: memorizing plays, adjusting to different assignments, and working off the snap count.

Thankfully, I caught on fairly fast. As a former linebacker, I was accustomed to playing physical football. I had no problem making blocks at full speed against linemen twice my size. In fact, I enjoyed the challenge. That was of course, until I attempted to thwart an oncoming pass rush.

It was a late August afternoon and I had just about solidified my starting role as wingback before our exhibition game. My high school was serious about football–so serious that we had lights on our practice field to ensure nightfall never stopped us from becoming  “winners.” So, as the sun was setting, my teammates and I were anxiously trying to wrap things up before the dreaded words “turn on the lights” came out of my coach’s mouth.

Standing in the slot position, I was set to defend an oncoming defensive end from reaching the quarterback. When the ball was snapped, I went on the attack. I was determined to show this guy who was boss, and more importantly, end practice early. With my eyes fixated on the numbers on his jersey, I went for the big hit . . . darkness.

As I pulled clumps of grass out of my facemask and got back on my feet, I witnessed my own worst nightmare–my quarterback curled into a ball on the ground with the defensive end jumping up and down in excitement. My competitor had used a simple “swim” move to face-plant me and sack the quarterback. Around that time my coach threw his clipboard and began hurling insults in my direction. I’m pretty sure “waste of human flesh” made it out of his mouth during his tirade. I was ruined.

Yet, when the verbal abuse finally ended, my coach took me by the arm to discuss the “fundamentals” of blocking the pass rush. I guess he understood that I’d never been taught the basics of my new position. In that very moment, I learned an important lesson. Countering the pass rush is more about defending, and not attacking. You see, it’s all about keeping a solid base and using the momentum of the defensive player to take him outside of the pocket. It’s more reactive than proactive.

Just a few tips and a short lesson later, I now possessed the fundamentals which made me a successful player throughout the season.

Thanks coach.

Though I’m no longer on the football field, I’m constantly reminded of that lesson throughout my life. Whenever taking on a new challenge, it’s important to master the fundamentals. Taking shortcuts or relying on luck will only take one so far.

Today, in my role as a food and lifestyle writer, the problem I most encounter is that readers lack fundamentals in the kitchen. I’m not talking about how to boil water – that excuse is more about ignorance than anything else. Instead, I’m talking about the basic skills or recipes that each man should possess as part of their culinary repertoire.

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate to write several posts for The Art of Manliness related to easy, healthy, and simple meals. Now that I’ll be taking on a monthly column, I figured it prudent to get back to the fundamentals.

I’m starting off this month with a simple, yet elegant dish that will serve each of you well throughout your life. A whole roasted chicken is an incredibly affordable and foolproof way to entertain guests or feed a family. Better yet, it’s another one skillet meal.

Spend about 30 minutes putting this dish together, and move on to other tasks while waiting for the oven to do its magic. The aromas coming out of your kitchen will be incredible, but do not open the oven until at least an hour and fifteen minutes into the process. Trust me. Cracking the oven door will release all of the heat, stalling the cooking process.

A meal all-in-one: lean protein, vegetables, and starches make this a healthy, balanced dinner. Of course, you can round out this dish with a simple salad. I’ve included a basic ‘house salad’ recipe that will go along nicely.

Serve with either a dry white wine or lighter reds (Pinot Noir, Cotes du Rhone, etc.)

Enjoy!

MM

P.S.-I need your help. In the comments, let me know what you’d like to learn in the kitchen. Whether it’s knife skills, or how to make fresh pasta, a perfect rib roast, or even a salad dressing, I’ll take all of your thoughts into consideration throughout the year.

House Salad

4 Cups Chopped Green Leaf Lettuce, loosely packed
6-8 Cherry Tomatoes
¼ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
½ Teaspoon Italian Blend Seasoning

Combine greens, tomatoes, and onions into a large serving bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, combine oil and vinegar, mix vigorously to combine ingredients. Pour the mixture over salad and season with salt, pepper, and Italian blend seasoning. Toss well and serve.

Roasted Whole Chicken with Vegetables

1 5 – 6 lb Roaster Chicken
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Fresh Thyme
1 Head Garlic, cut in half
½ Lemon
Unsalted Butter
Butcher’s Twine
2 lbs Petite Red Potatoes, quartered
1 Red Onion, roughly chopped
10 Carrots, peeled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Thoroughly rinse chicken, removing neck and giblets, and pat dry. Coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with garlic, ½ lemon, and about 10 sprigs of fresh thyme. Carefully pull back the skin from the breast, creating a small pocket, and work about a tablespoon of butter between the skin and the meat for each breast. Finally, tie the legs together using butcher’s twine. In a shallow roasting pan or large cast iron skillet, add the remaining vegetables. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss until evenly distributed. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables (breast side up) and roast in the oven, 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.

Remove the chicken from the oven and rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Slice the chicken and serve immediately with the cooked vegetables.

Dinner is served.

Kitchen Fundamentals Series:
How to Make a Whole Roasted Chicken
The 6 Knives Every Man Should Have in His Kitchen
Basic Knife Skills

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jim February 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Advice about knife skills, and selecting the right set of knives, would be great. I have a whole drawerful of knives, but I always end up using the same few.

As for the chicken, I find tying up the legs to be unnecessary. YMMV.

2 Chandler February 25, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Slow cooking beef briskets and roasts have given me headaches this year. I’ve braised, I’ve wrapped in foil, I’ve tried smoking, all with less than desirable results. If you would do a spot on selecting the right cut for the intended purpose and how to slow cook less expensive beef cuts to a tender and delicious finish, I would be very interested in reading it. Thanks.

3 Jim February 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

I started cooking whe,n in my early 20′s I got tired of ‘bachelor food’. Eggs, hamburgers and canned pasta sauce. I learned to really enjoy cooking and did most of the cooking during my 20 year marriage. (No, that has nothing to do with the divorce.)
For some reason I always found the oven intimidating. Anything on top of the stove, I was on it. Chinese dinners, Mediterranean dishes, good old American food, I was all over it. Roasting scared me. Even after I started baking bread, I was intimidated by doing anything else in the oven.. DON’T BE! It’s so easy.
Roast a chicken as soon as possible. (Coincidentally, my grocery store has buy on get one on roasting chickens when I was there this morning and I put one in the oven 20 minutes before I sat down at the computer.)
This is a good one for guys who are learning. It’s easy. It gets you over your fear of cooking. It’s easy. It tastes good. It’s easy and you’ll have leftovers so you don’t need to cook again too soon. Soon you’ll be roasting chickens and pig parts and cow parts.
One additional recommendation. Learn to make gravy. (It’s also easy, but you do need to stay in the kitchen while you’re making it.)

4 John Reames February 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I am rather naive about the selection of various herbs. I would like information about logical pairings of herbs with meats and soups, etc.; how much, how little. I don’t want to be timid in my use of herbs but at the same time I don’t want to overuse and ruin a perfectly good meal. Thanks.

5 Jason February 25, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Since the men in my family love to cook, I’m already fairly adept at the art. However, I did learn a new trick when roasting a chicken. Never thought of putting butter between the skin and breast. Thanks for that!

As for suggestions for future articles: knife select and use is a definite. How about food presentation (how it looks on the plate) for those romantic evenings with the wife or girlfriend, and possibly some cooking terminology. For the latter: what is braising? What is rough chopping?

Keep up the good work!

Jason

6 Ralph February 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm

@Chandler – man, I was having the same problems. It was frustrating wanting that awesome product I saw in a TV segment or in pictures online and not achieving anything near what I expected. My problem turned out to be my oven temps were way off. I bought a cheap oven thermometer, and figured out how to compensate for the off temps. I had a really old oven at the time, and between knowing the actual temp being used and using baking stones it helped regulate the heat better. Apparently I was supposed to really use those temps and cooking times, hahaha.

7 Scott February 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I spend alot of my free time fishing and come home with alot of pike and walleye fillets. 99 times out of 100 I just end up coating them in flour and lemon pepper and frying them up. It’d be nice to have a few other simple options to bring some nice change to the “regular”.

8 Paul February 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Since we are covering the basics how about covering different types of bread. I would love to be able to make my own sandwich bread, dinner rolls, biscuits and some really tasty bread to dip into olive oil.

9 Hunter Bond February 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

I know there are a lot of tutorials online about this subject, but I’d like to see your take on it. How exactly do you go about carving various cuts of meat for maximum use?

I’ve surely hacked up a few nicely roasted chickens on the path to the plate.

10 Paul February 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

@Jim
Amen to the gravy. The gravy you can make from fresh drippings is the best gravy you will ever have if it is made correctly.

11 Mark II February 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm

I’d like to second the request for selecting/using/and where to buy good knives.

Also, could you describe in more detail how to ‘Season the cavity with salt and pepper’? Do we rub it in, which I am assuming, or just shake it all in there?

And one more question, you mention waiting until ‘the juice runs clear’ when you cut. I heard that letting the juice run out let’s some of the flavor go. Is there a proper balance here I’m missing?

12 JEREMY February 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Herb and spice knowledge would be a excellent. I’m currently a college student and I’m doing fine in the cooking dept but I still have a problem over cooking steak, I’m still afraid to undercook it. I would also like to know what recipes other men that frequent this site had success with.

13 Daniel Curry February 25, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Rack of lamb. Looks really intimidating, but oh so impressive.

14 Adam Gainer February 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Matt this is a great article. Spot on. I usually pick u pa chicken and roast it on the weekends and make my lunches for work / dinners for the week out of the bird. I worked in kitchens for 6 or 7 years and all my friends have gone through culinary school (they’ve taught me so much).

The only thing I would suggest to readers is cooking it at a lower temp (350 degrees for 40 mins per /lb) then finishing it at a higher temp (425 for the last 15-20 mins) to get that crispy skin.

I look forward to seeing more in this series. I think a great article would be basic knife skills (including onion cutting).

15 chuck February 25, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I am one that knows precious little about wines. I would like to change that with my twenty-first birthday only 5 months away. I would love to see an article that at least teaches the basics of different wines and how to match wines with foods.

16 BillS February 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Nice roasting guide! Not sure the football story contributed to it at all though, lol! Almost lost me halfway down the page

17 n February 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Pick up a basic cookbook. Nothing fancy…they explain the different terms- braising, roasting, etc. and usually have charts on seasonings to pair with what foods.
Most have simpler recipes as well as complicated.

18 Brainwrek February 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm

How about a little write up about the manly cooking method known as dutch ovens?

Pretty much anything and everything can be cooked in one, and for some, dutch ovens are still a mystery. Campfire, or on the oven, they are awesome.

19 Dustin Boring February 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm

@ Jim, there is no shame in just using a couple of different knives. I would argue that a well armed kitchen only needs 3 or 4 knives, including a good sized chef’s knife (the first thing that you should typically reach for), a paring knife (for anything where a small knife is needed), and perhaps a serrated bread knife. Better to spend money on getting a small number of good, quality knives than to skimp on quality and buying a block-full.

Go to a professional kitchen, and you’re not going to see prep cooks using an arsenal of different kinds of knives. Most likely, they’ll be using cheap kitchen supply shop knives (with white plastic handles).

Regarding trussing the bird, yes YMMV, but generally trussing helps to even out the cooking rates for the different parts of the chicken (and thus preventing dry-as-a-bone breast meat). This article talks about fundamentals, and indeed, that is truly fundamental.

Thomas Keller (chef at the French Laundry in the Napa area) tells a story about how a French chef that he was working for threw a kitchen knife at him when he (the chef) figured out that he (Mr. Keller) didn’t know how to truss a chicken. Fortunately, the chef missed, but Mr. Keller vowed to learn the fundamentals of cooking after that (even though he already considered himself an experienced chef)!

20 Jay February 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Even though they are disappearing, how about writing something about the magic of butcher shops?
They usually offer better quality, and fresher meats than grocery stores, yet sadly butcher shops are few and far between these days.

21 Zach February 25, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Alton Brown had a great episode on just this!
He talks about using the drippings to later season the chicken, what type of pan to use, how to dress the chicken for roasting, why seasoning under the skin makes sense, and includes a way to further season the vegetables with the chicken (with red wine).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L7E7ncE3yk&NR=1

22 Zach February 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I apologize, I gave the link to part two. Here is part one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5sxus2B3so

23 Marinda S. February 25, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Leg of lamb, whole or butterflied, dry rub or marinated is a challenging basic, but once mastered will win the hearts and minds of the people you serve it to. Hubby uses the Silver Palate Cookbook recipe, one marinade is with soy, the other is with red wine vinegar, both are excellent.

Consider doing a cookbook review. Everyone should know where to look, who does what well and go back some years, to the older one Craig Craigborn or James Beard.
(James Beard represents for me the art of man in the kitchen)

24 Zach February 25, 2011 at 4:27 pm

@Jay

The Blog: Being Manly wrote a great article on butcher shops some while back you might like.

http://beingmanly.blogspot.com/2011/02/butcher.html

25 Joe February 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Matt,

This is a delicious recipe, thank you for sharing. I do not find it having to do much with kitchen “fundamentals” however. It’s just a recipe.

To me, kitchen fundamentals are more like tips for cooking. For instance when you watch “America’s Test Kitchen” they explain to you how to cook a nice piece of steak to an internal temperature of 140, or whatever, and to then let the steak sit for 5-10 minutes to resoak the wonderful juices you will surely lose if you immediately cut into it.

You know, great tips like that are essential for men looking to become a better cook. These tips can then be carried on into other aspects of cooking to make one a better, well-rounded chef (or just a dude that knows what the hay he’s doing in the kitchen).

I read your article and kept asking, why? Why put butter on the breast? Why tie the legs with kitchen twine?

If I just follow your recipe willy nilly I’ll never know the answers to those ‘why’ questions and thus learn those elusive cookin fundamentals. I am sure you are not interested in copying another program, but for anyone who wants to learn the fundamentals and tips about cooking and the answers to those ‘why’ questions should turn to America’s Test Kitchen.

Thanks again for this awesome recipe.

26 Keith February 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Excellent article. Roast chicken is a great place to start for a novice cook. It doesn’t hurt that any left overs are tasty too. As far as future articles, knife skills would be a great addition. I have known a number of people who have held their kitchen skills back by simply not knowing how to handle a knife.

27 August February 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I personally really liked the football story. Set up the post and the coming series well. I also like the fact that the style writer on this site was a Marine and now the cooking guy played football. I like it because cooking and style are things modern culture considers not manly sometimes, even though they’re quite manly and have been important to men for a very long time.

I’d personally like to know more about how to make pancakes. I like to make pancakes for my family every weekend, but mine are only okay. They never turn out as good as I’d like. I’d also second the motion for something on butcher shops. Actually, something on the different cuts of meat in general would be good. I have no idea what cut of beef for example would be good for a stew versus a steak versus a stir-fry.

28 mjf February 25, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I like the write-up, and it certainly looks tasty.

Having taught this myself, I have a few things to note…

1) A simple roasted chicken is a good way to start out. Salt+oil on the skin is enough for a great tasting bird.

2) Vegetables in the pan are a good idea to keep the pan clean, and taste great roasted but they are also not required.

3) Learning how to use a meat thermometer should be considered essential for even the most basic roasting class. Clear juices are not a bad way to know done-ness, but nothing beats a thermometer with a timer. And they are cheap and never over-done.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the extras. In fact there are a few I’d suggest…

The most tasty and juicy birds I’ve eaten have had tight leathery, sometimes crunchy, skins (not floppy wet skin). You can boil the bird for a few minutes (or pour boiling water over the skin), dry + oil + season. Or even easier, you can start it in as hot an oven as you can get for 15 minutes, then decrease to 350. Don’t worry about it being too leathery, after a good rest it loosens up. Or consider making a glaze for the skin (1/4 cup honey, 1tbs soy sauce is easy and works well).

Someone suggested high heat at the end. This is best done for roasting meat without skin. There you want the water soluble proteins sweating out on the surface to create a crust that is then browned as the last thing. When the meat already has a skin, (like with chicken) you can help create a natural oven-bag effect by tightening up the skin (browning or boiling) first thing.

The natural progression in my house went from roasted chicken like this (only stood upright by a special rack, some people use beer cans to do about the same thing) to butterflying the bird (ala Alton Brown) to nowadays we still buy whole chickens but we cut them all apart.

We either broil or braise the legs and thighs (40 clove chicken in a skillet is my wife’s favorite) and keep the breast meat around for its many dish/sandwich uses later. Then we have a nice fresh skeleton for chicken stock and gizzards for fun. We also render some of the chicken fat from the fatty ends of the skin to make vinaigrette (has to be eaten fresh), roux (could be gravy or gumbo later), or wilting greens.

Most recently now do the same thing with Turkey. The breast can be used anywhere you want to use veal, some roast potential with the thighs but mostly we just braise them with the legs.

But that takes some carving/butchering skills which are easy to acquire but outside of the simple cooking skills you are promoting.

What should you do next? I’d say something with grains. Perhaps butterflying and quartering the bird is a nice step after this also.

29 Derek February 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Basic butchering. Beyond hacking up a bird, I have no idea what to do. Also: field dressing game and fish. I’d suggest soups next month, so people know something to do with that chicken carcass they learned how to make this month.

30 Jake February 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm

@ Chandler and Raplh

I just made my first Thanksgiving turkey last year using similar ingredients and directions as mentioned by the article. My family loved it and it was one of the best turkey I’ve ever eaten. Anyway, one of the most important thing I learned was what to do after the cooking was done and the turkey/chicken/poultry was out of the oven. I learned that wrapping the entry poultry in foil and letting it sit for 15-25 minutes really lets the flavors and juices seep into the meat. I’ve done the same to the pork butt I served for Christmas. Very juicy and tender. Enjoy.

31 Josh February 25, 2011 at 6:28 pm

The knife stuff would be great – especially technique. I know for a fact even at the novice level there’s a faster way to cut up an onion, etc. Also, I like the comments from others re: pairings – I would like to do more going off-recipe and just grabbing stuff from the spice drawer, fridge, etc and “whip something up”…but am just a bit timid in what kind of risk I’ll take. Finally, substitution rules – e.g. you don’t have X spice that the recipe calls for; what might I have that would work instead?

32 Michael February 26, 2011 at 1:22 am

Knife skills would be much appreciated especially what knives to be used for different situations.

33 Gus February 26, 2011 at 1:39 am

A good chicken or turkey technique is to coat the bird with olive olive, coarse kosher salt, and fresh milled pepper. Rub that mixture in and cut a lemon in half. Squeeze the lemon juice over the bird too. Then stuff the lemon peels in the cavity of the bird. It adds flavor and really keeps the flesh very moist and juicy.

34 Nikki Nighthawkk February 26, 2011 at 5:23 am

Anyone care to know some manly vegetarian recipes? I don’t find anything manly about pre-bought chickens from a store.

35 Mykola February 26, 2011 at 5:40 am

Thanks for the article. Indeed

As to your kind request: “let me know what you’d like to learn in the kitchen. Whether it’s knife skills, or how to make fresh pasta, a perfect rib roast, or even a salad dressing”

I would certainly vote for the ” knife skills”

And would be very thankfull for any further materials of yours

Good Luck!

MK

36 Shawn February 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

Nikki, no we don’t, and what the hell is a pre bought chicken? Is that when you grab the chicken and run out the store before buying it? Men eat meat, it’s what we do. Cooking vegetables is easy.

37 Matthew February 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

I appreciate this article. I’d like to learn more about knife skills. Sometimes carving a turkey or cutting up meat is a bit difficult to figure out. Also maybe something about different cuts of meat and what their good for.
Thanks.

38 Lorin February 26, 2011 at 11:26 am

Hey, great recipe.
Can you do a post on how to sharpen knives.
Thanks.

39 Ryan Grimm February 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

Cookbooks are our friends, but need some explaining. THey often refer to tech or processes that most kitchen uses ‘should’ know, but don’t.
No worries, many cookbooks have reference sections (or should) and they explain a lot.
I second the Alton Brown references, there is a wealth of stuff there for Men to use and profit from.
My favorite easy dinner is London broil.
Take one from the market, stick it in a havy freezer ziploc gallon bag. Add three or four crushed garlic cloves (minced even better).
In a bowl mix a few tablespoons lemon juice, a 1/4 cup decent olive oil, salt (kosher works great) and lots of FRESH ground pepper…you can get pepper grinders cheap at most chairty/resale shops.
Mis well, then pour into the bag with beef/garlic..Smoosh it around and squeeze out the air.
Either let it sit on the counter for 1 hour (no more!) or in the fridge for 4-12 hours, this will marinate the meat.
BTW, room temp meat cooks more evenly to my experience, and lowers cooking time. If it’s been in the fridge for a long time, take it out 30 minutes before cooking to warm slightly
Take it out of the bag, and onto a rack on a baking sheet or pan…I line the pan with foil for easier cleanup….under the oven broiler for 6 minutes, then turn and another 6-7 minutes. That’s it. DO NOT use the marinade remaining, toss it.
Now the hard part….WAITING. NO NOT cut the meat right away, you must let it ‘rest’.
Place the meat on a plate and cover with foil, tightly. Let it sit for 8-12 minutes, this will let it re-absorb any juices and keep the meat from being ‘dry’ when sliced.

NOW slice on the bias (at a 45 degree angle to the cutting board surface) as London Broil can be tough, and slicing like that gets through possible connective tissues.
The same cooking times over charcoal or gas grill.
I serve with cooked rice pilaf or similar, salad, some veggie. Don’t be afraid to garlic up the veggie dish as there’s some in the meat.
Impresses the hell out of the Lady du Jour.
I have lots of easy recipes for dating or ‘other’ purposes, email me if wanted.

40 Dustin February 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm

This is the kind of stuff I like to see. Simple recipes that don’t require 10 ingredients you can’t pronounce, or locate in a grocery store are the stuff dreams are made of!

41 Rob February 26, 2011 at 2:02 pm

@ Joe: you can’t do better for the “why” of cooking than to check out Harold McGee’s book “On Food and Cooking.” Lots and lots and lots of the science of cooking.

@ Shawn Simple courtesy to our host forbids me from responding in what I consider an appropriate fashion to your remarks about “men eat meat.” There are countless men who, for ethical or philosophical reasons, choose not to eat meat: to imply that one must eat meat to be a man is itself unmanly.

My daughter is vegetarian, and I would be interested in good vegetarian meals. As a man, I respect her ethical choice, even if I have come to different decisions, and as a man who cares about his daughter’s health, I want to be able to provide tasty, nutritious, filling, healthy *vegetarian* meals for her.

42 Mike February 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I’d like to see several entries devoted strictly to grilling. I think that is the epitome of manly cooking. Articles on different things that you can could on the grill would be great. Many of us limit it to ribs, steaks and burgers when there is a lot more.

Also, how to select good cuts of ribs and steaks for grilling and how to prepare them. For instance, when I make ribs I go straight to the grill while other people have told me I should put it in the oven first. To me that seems like cheating.

On the topic of using a grill, a guide on how to smoke meat would be good as well.

My thoughts aren’t very well organized at the moment, but what I really want is all thing grilling!

43 Michael February 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

An article on knives, how to select them and how to properly sharpen them at home. It’s an essential skill that every culinary artist or amateur needs. No matter what dish you’re cooking, you’ll probably need to use some sort of knife so a mastery of cutlery is fundamental to the culinary arts.

44 eddy james February 26, 2011 at 4:06 pm

For tips here, I would like to see:

knife skills
types of cuts of meat (which ones are good for what)
baking pastries
how to make your own pasta sauce (various types)
how to select pots
how to decide what level of heat to use for what meats
pot roast
meatloaf
roast pork

fish — please discuss types of fish and what one would expect to pay for it

thanks

45 Josh February 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thanks for the great article(s). Add me to the list of people who would love a primer in basic knife skills. More specifically, trying to do my part in helping cook dinner with my wife, I’m often cutting vegetables for prep. What are the proper/most efficient ways of chopping tomatoes, onions, peppers, and galric?
Maybe this isn’t exactly the epitome of manly, but doing your share of the work is certainly a man’s responsibility.
Thanks

46 Panel Çit February 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I’d like to second the request for selecting/using/and where to buy good knives

47 G Mr. Bill February 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm

At 40 I transitioned (retired) from the USAF to the civilian world. I ended up working at Williams-Sonoma as Christmas help to pay the bills while waiting for my job search to bear fruit. It was a very informative two months, but I missed the opportunity to ask my co-workers some important questiosn, too (not realizing my new job’s hours would soon make me household chef).

I spent the first half of my life using non-stick pans because that’s what mom used. Now I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t have. So, what are the fundamental cooking vessels? 8, 10, AND 12 inch pans? How many pots? Made of what (copper, aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron)? Non-stick (and if not, how hard is it to clean and clean with what and is it dishwasher safe)? Do I really need a whole set of Le Creuset?

I’m interested in the questions of knives as well. I have three very good Wusthof pieces and a sharpening rod, but I am always wondering how the heck I’m supposed to know if the angle I’m holding my knife really is 15 or 20 degrees.

48 DavidL February 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I, too, like grilling. Family and friends have given me libraries of grilling books, but none tell you how to grill! (one “chef” that claims to run a BBQ University is so conceited, he seems more interested in impressing everybody with his gigantic wealth of knowledge than helping anyone) It’s always: “do this, this, this, and of course THIS is fundamental, blah, blah, blah.” Like another poster said, it is important to know WHY you do these steps if you really want to learn something. If you already know everything, why would you need to read someone else’s book? That’s why I like Alton Brown, America’s Test Kitchen, and this article. Also, thanks to other posters for suggesting other informative cooking authors!

49 sean glass February 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

Great article! I have roasted a chicken before but will definitely try this way. ;)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on a home made salad dressing.

Also, THE EVER TRICKY EGG. How to make omelets, french toast, and other styles.. I’ve got scrambling down pat- but the rest I haven’t ventured into yet.. ;-D thanks!!

50 Nikki Nighthawkk February 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

Rob, i’ll hook you up. making vegetarian food interesting can be a challenge. send me your email address or email me subculturehero@hotmail.com. Shawn, i was referring to chicken bought from a store rather than hunted and killed, which is fractionally more manly but still morally objectionable (in my opinion).

51 shelle February 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Nikki.. Maybe you should relax a little with the moral objections? If you see a post that’s obviously about something you find objectionable, just save yourself the angst and don’t read it. I’m sure there will be non-meat posts around here, and I’m sure you have a lot of insight to offer on those posts (I mean that sincerely, not snarkily).

That said: Most of the men I know are vegetarians, so no, Shawn, men don’t eat meat by default. It ain’t a gender thing.

I personally applaud ANYONE taking steps to learn how to cook real food, whatever they’re cooking. It takes effort.

As far as suggestions for future posts… I’m a woman, and I consider it to be extremely sexy when a guy has good knife skills. Just my two cents. :)

52 Eric February 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

First of all, I would really like to know more about knives: where to get good quality knives, which types of knives are necessary, which types maybe aren’t necessary but are fun to experiment with, recipes that incorporate the knife skills you write about, whatever you have to offer on the subject, really.

Secondly, I would like to know more about herbs: which ones go best with which foods, how to balance them together in a single dish, maybe some information about some of the more obscure herbs that you don’t hear about all the time.

Whatever you choose to write about, keep up the good work! Your cooking articles are some of the ones I look forward to the most.

53 Matt February 28, 2011 at 3:56 am

Great article! I really like how you’re keeping it simple. For your next article I’d really like to learn about roasts and briskets. I see a lot of people want to know about knives, a walk-through on technique would be beneficial for everyone, but if you’d like a brand to suggest, Cutco is a great one. I’ve been personally selling Cutco for the past few years to pay my way through school, and it truly is a great product. It’s high quality, American made, and stands behind it’s product with a real forever guarantee similar to Craftsman tools’, not just a “defects guarantee” like most others. I hope I’m not overstepping any boundaries with this post, but like I said, I’m paying my way through college with it, so take a look at cutco’s website, cutco.com and e-mail me if you want some more information, or if any other guests reading this would like to purchase. mwh028@latech.edu

54 Garrett February 28, 2011 at 8:12 am

Info on knives, and basic knife skills would be a great post! Is there a good “do it all knife” shape and size? I have a knife block full of knives, but I only seem to use the 10 inch chef knife ( for most chopping tasks) and a carving knife for turkies and roasts. The knife set it pretty cheap, but works very well because I routinely sharpen the knives I use. Would I experience signifigant improvement with a more expensive set, or would it improvement be marginal?

I recieved a ceramic “yoshi blade” for Christmas which has replaced the chef knife for some tasks., as it works very well. What is the consensus on ceramic knives? The yoshi blade is to small to comfortably hande some scullery jobs like chopping lare russet potatoes.

Finally, knife skills I would like clarity on: how does one chop, dice, and mince onion correctly? I have always just “winged it” and kept cutting until the bulk of the onion was to my desired size. But my method always results in non-uniform peices. Some peices larger than others, some thicker or thinner. Do you cut the ends off, do you cut a little off the bottom to keep it from rolling? Help, before I cut myself.

55 Ed February 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

I would like to learn how to make different sauces and gravy’s for meals. A basic white sauce, different sauces and glazes for meats, pasta sauces, cheese sauce, any kind of sauce. I can cook meat, I can cook pasta, but making them flavorful is what I am lacking!!!

Thanks for the monthly column!

56 Joaquin M February 28, 2011 at 11:49 am

Great information Matt! I’ve been working on good roast chicken mostly by trial and error, and this looks great!

I would really like to hear more roasting meats, especially how to get good cuts of meat to roast, how to season them properly, as well as tricks and techniques for how to serve them in simple but elegant ways. I like to make food for large groups of friends, and riffing on hamburgers can only take you so far!

Keep the great advice coming!

57 miked February 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Nikki, we are all entitled to our opinions and beliefs, but this post on cooking a decent chicken is not about the moral ramifications of meat eating. But if you want to get down to it being a vegetarian might be harmful to men–might actually make a man less manly. Did you see the Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction study that shows that soy hurts our swimmies? http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/11/2584.abstract

58 KG2V February 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

An old great cookbook for roasts etc

The Dione Lucas Meat and Poultry Cook Book

Basically, if it’s NOT a Veggie, it probably has it in there

Want to get fancy? She also wrote the Cordon Bleu Cookbook

Of course, there is the default “Art of Cooking”

59 Topher White February 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Thanks Matt. Good instructions.

I think Knife Skills is a great idea. Almost no one I’ve met even knows how to hold a kitchen knife correctly (both men and women).

My personal challenge is risotto. I’ve gotten to the point where the flavors are where I want them, but I’m still struggling with the consistency being not creamy enough.

60 Collin February 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

I’d like to see some stuff catered more towards cooking for one. What do I do with the rest of the whole chicken after I’ve finished eating? How can I use it in a couple of different interesting ways so it doesn’t feel like I’m making the same meal 3 nights in a row.

61 Mike February 28, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Looks great. I recently blogged about a fantastic Chicken I got from my local Whole Foods. I ended up calling up the chicken farm that supplied it and spoke with the owner. Finding a great, local, free range, organic chicken is essential to a tasty bird. Check it out if you get a chance,

http://thegreenecook.blogspot.com/2010/12/whole-chicken-on-bbq-meal-that-keeps-on.html

And I agree with a lot of the comments, simple is the best.

62 rjzii March 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

Another vote from me in favor of an article (or perhaps a series of articles) on kitchen equipment, for example:

+ Knives
– The “core” knifes that every kitchen should have
– How to select new ones at the store
– When it is worth while to pay more for a knife
– Care and maintenance of your knifes
– What type of cutting board you should use

With the subtopics for knives following along for a pots & pans article as well as utensils article (e.g. rolling pins, garlic presses, etc).

63 Nathan March 2, 2011 at 3:15 am

I live in a dorm room, and I don’t necessarily have access to huge varieties of ingredients, nor the space to store them if I had them. I’d love to see an article about a flavorful meal or meals that can be made with only the most basic/widely useful ingredients.

64 James F March 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

Parboiling vegies is a fantastic way of making sure they are soft on the inside and crisp on the outer.

65 Gabriel Baker March 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

How many people does this meal serve?

66 Jeff March 3, 2011 at 1:25 am

Vegetarian diets are low on saturated fats and lead to much lower testosterone levels. Eating meat is essential to being manly.

67 ray March 5, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Good on the basics, but an article about roasting a chicken with no mention of spatchcocking is hardly an article at all and certainly not manly. Spatchcocking is an infinitely fun word to say, brings knives and dismembering thing into play, and cooks faster. That, my friend, is the trifecta.

68 Chris March 6, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Great article. I’d like to see follow-up articles on making the ‘basics’. Pot roast, meatloaf, lasagna, “real” mac and cheese. The so-called comfort foods are a great way to learn the basics of cooking.

As for Nikki and her ‘pre-bought’ chicken comment… I wonder if she has any ‘pre-bought’ ingredients in her kitchen, or if everything in her pantry was grown in her garden? After all, there is no skill in going to the store and buying veg and tofu, right?

69 Terry March 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Wonderful article in an amazing site – Gen Y needs this. Anyway, knife skills are critical in the kitchen and there’s lots of interest shown for that. I concur with Ed in wanting to know about sauces and gravies and I would add; how to produce stock-from-scratch – the critical ingredient in any gravy, sauce or sucessful soup.

70 Luciano March 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Eric-a good quality knife is indispensable in the kitchen-yes, I know, I’m stating the bleedin’ obvious, but working in a knife store, it is great to see that men want to be informed. We have some great information on the proper selection, handling, etc. on our website. We’re only in Canada, but you should be able to find good quality knives where you are, our site will tell you what to look for: http://www.houseofknives.net. Happy hunting!

71 Samson March 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

This recipe sounds delicious and healthy. I’m working to get my beach body going for the summer so cutting out junk is a must. I’ve mostly been grilling something up on the Foreman but it’s always good to have some meal ideas to add to the rotation.

72 Mike E March 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

I made this about a week ago. It came out awesome, my girlfriend was quite impressed. It almost made me want to take on Thanksgiving dinner this year (almost)… Thanks for the great recipe

73 B March 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm

I omitted the garlic and added rosemary with the thyme. The result was excellent.

74 A.T. September 20, 2012 at 4:59 am

thanks, this was a great article!

75 Viktor January 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I have an extremely simple roast-chicken recipe, i call in-law teaser.
What you need:
1 whole chicken
2 kilos of salt(i think it’s about 4 pounds for those of you on imperial)
some various herbs if you want.

wet the salt, just so it would be perfect material, for sandcastle.
make a “bedding” for the bird using about half of the salt,
season the chick with the herbs, then place it on the bedding.
cover the whole thing with the rest of the salt.
shove it in the oven for about 1.5 hrs on 7 of 10 heat(dunno how hot is that, i never had a thermometer in my oven).
So what we did here: we literally made a furnace out of the salt, so we can keep all the precious juices inside the bird, so the meat is gonna be melting off the bones. The other thing is, that the salt is going to dehydrate the skin, making it crunchy. Don’t worry, it’s not gonna be too salty.
Why is this the in-law teaser? because of the serving performance: you bring out the pan(or whatever you put the thing in) and a huge knife. On the pan you can see a blackish brown hill(like a loaf of seriously overdone bread) which does not look like food at all. then you start to crack the crust open with the handle(or the back) of the knife, and inside there is the best chicken the mama have ever ate. Note: try to make as large pieces with the cracking as possible, otherwise the birdie will taste salty.
Enjoy!

76 granata June 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

+1 on Spatchcocking. My wife thinks it’s a waste of time, but I swear it makes a difference.

77 Joe Zasada October 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Skills:

Lard and Tallow Making.
Larding.
Turning dry roasts and cuts of meat into extraordinary. Also highly useful when preparing wild game which is usually very lean.

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