A real man seduces women with skill, with cunning, with forethought and technique. He removes bra and panties not with alcohol or lies, like a lout, but by taking something mundane and reinventing it in his masterful hands. A real man seduces women with roasted chicken.
Yes, roasted chicken. Easy to cook. Available for purchase at the local grocery store. The default menu item restaurant patrons turn to when imagination fails. There is nothing less sexy than roasted chicken. Until you cook it for a woman. Then the most common dish in the world gains an uncommon quality, by way of your touch.
Jerry Solomon, author of A Man’s Guide To Food As Foreplay, spoke with Made Man about cooking for women. We talked about his first time cooking for a date, the power of shared experiences and how the things you do for yourself become the things you do for other people. In addition to being an author, Solomon is a cook and owns his own catering business.
Solomon: Yes. I’m actually having trouble getting the book placed because people look at the word foreplay and they always think of it as being a really sexually-driven concept and it’s really not. What it’s about is the fact that the kitchen, for me, has always been one of these places where you can get intimate with people.
MM: When did you first discover food could be used as foreplay?
Solomon: When I was in college was the first time I cooked for someone. Her name was Cheri. I made something simple – pasta Alfredo. It was the first time that I elicited a response.
MM: A romantic response?
MM: You seem like a classy guy, so we’ll leave it at that. Obvious question — why do women like men who can cook?
Solomon: Often women look at men as shallow. Here is one of these things where men can show women they can really be much more than that. There is an intimacy that happens around food.
MM: Should guys cook on the first date? Or should they wait?
Solomon: I have done both. That’s a tough one. Spontaneity is really important. For a first date? Yes, I would do it for a first date.
MM: What’s the key to impressing a woman when you cook for her?
Solomon: Sharing, surprising and doing together. Cooking is a perfect vehicle for doing something together. The physical side of it becomes an essential part of the cooking. The touching and rubbing of the food. You’re sharing that smell of onion and garlic when it first hits the pan and it fills the air. Then to bring (food) out to someone and say, I’m making something for them, something they have never had, or if they have, that they have never had the way you make it. That is another side of the intimacy because it’s so surprising.
MM: What should a man do to get his kitchen together before his date walks in the door?
Solomon: What you do for yourself is, ultimately, what you then do for other people. You have to have good knives that you take care of, that are sharpened. Everything you do in the kitchen is technique. It’s not an art form. Regardless of whether you’re seeing anybody or not, you need good knives, pots and pans, a good frying pan, the kind that distributes heat the right way. You need a couple of other pans because you do other things with them. I found a spice company online a few years ago called Penzey’s. They do spice blends. You find those kinds of things. I buy 10 of their products every time I go to their store. Now you have this spice trove. It’s blended. You don’t have to think about it.
MM: What about presentation?
Solomon: Always set a nice table. Table setting are very important. It doesn’t cost a lot to buy a couple of nice plates. They last you. These things don’t wear out. I also like putting flowers out.
MM: Can we share one of your recipes?
Solomon: Sure. This is the menu from the first romantic meal I cooked for my wife, Veda. It’s roasted chicken.
(Note: No photos have been included below to make the recipes easier for you to copy and paste)
Brined & Roasted Chicken
Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes
Sautéed String Beans
Navel Orange Sorbet
1 whole 3-lb chicken
OR 1 package of cut-up chicken parts
2 heads of garlic
1 head of romaine or red leaf
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
1 sweet onion
1 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch of parsley
1 container of crumbled Feta cheese (look in the deli cheese section)
1 6 oz. container of black olives
1 6 oz. container of green olives
1 6 oz. container of pepperoncini
1 pound of fresh string beans
1 package of fresh cut beans
Favorite salad dressing
8 small size red bliss potatoes (use Yukon Gold or fingerlings)
1 navel orange
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)
2 tbsp white Balsamic vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Italian herb mix
1. Combine all of the above in a small plastic container with a lid, and drizzle in extra virgin olive oil to taste (about 6 tbsp), then shake or stir to create an emulsion.
2. Taste for final seasoning.
1 head of romaine lettuce or red leaf; rinsed, dried and cut into bite size pieces
1 pint of grape or cherry tomatoes
1 red onion, thinly sliced 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 cucumber, sliced
½ cup of parsley, chopped
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
1-6 oz. container of black olives
1-6 oz. container of green olives
1-6 oz. container of pepperoncini peppers
1. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, olives and parsley, half of the crumbled feta cheese on top of the salad, and save the remaining feta for garnish.
2. Pour most of the dressing over the salad.
3. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
4. Toss, and add the remaining feta and dressing.
5. Let the salad marinate (sit) until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
1. Use a teaspoon to spread a little olive oil on the pita bread, and warm in the oven on a piece of foil, OR on a grill.
2. Before serving, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, then cut into quarters or strips and serve with the salad.
Using either a soup bowl or entrée plate, place one handful of the dressed salad in the middle of each plate—generally enough for one serving. Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese, and place two pieces of pita standing in the middle of salad. Finish with freshly grounded black pepper at the table—it makes a nice impression!
Split Whole Roasted Brined Chicken
Cooking time: 90 minutes
Whole 3 lb chicken (You can also use a package of already cut-up chicken parts which will cost a little more as someone else does the work.)
Blend together to taste:
10 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
8 small red bliss or white or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half
½ cup of olive or canola oil
Brining (One Hour Per Pound)–Optional:
It is well worth it to brine the chicken (if you have the time), as it will cook up moist and taste amazing.
1. Submerge the chicken or chicken parts in a large pot with a ¼ cup of kosher salt to each quart of water, and anything else that might add flavor such as sugar and garlic powder. Using a less salty solution instead of a half cup of salt, and a longer brining time, will result in a more even seasoning through all layers to the bone.
2. Remove and dry with paper towels.
If you do not brine:
1. Light grill
preheat the oven to 425Ëš.
2. Rinse the chicken (or parts) inside and out under water, then dry with paper towels.
Once again, when working with chicken, remember to wash your hands and tools to avoid salmonella poisoning and cross contamination between foods. Use antibacterial soap and hot water.
Preparing the chicken:
1. Split the chicken down the back and remove the backbone.
2. Season all over, inside and out, with season mix.
3. If you have a food processor, create a mixture of garlic and oil. If you do not have a processor, press and finely chop the garlic and blend with the olive oil.
4. I like to add a half cup of Vidalia onion creamy vinaigrette to the oil and garlic mix for another flavor dimension.
5. Using your hands, rub the mixture all over outside, and be sure to get the mixture under the skin of the chicken.
6. Place chicken breast side down in a roasting pan or skillet larger than the chicken. Place all the sliced sweet onions and the halved small potatoes around it–it’s gonna be good!
Cooking, in the oven:
Chicken parts follow the same cooking instructions:
1. Place the pan on the bottom of the oven, and cook for about thirty minutes. Then move to the middle rack and cook for another twenty minutes.
2. To crisp the top a little more remove the pan and place on the lowest shelf under the broiler, and continue cooking for another ten minutes.
3. Check temperature with meat thermometer. Insert into thigh – not too near to the bone nor too close to the skin. It should read 170ËšF to 175ËšF, or is done when the juices run clear after the thigh is pierced with a fork.
4. Remove the split chicken from the pan, place on cutting board, and let rest for about fifteen minutes. Then cut into 8 pieces, place on platter, garnish and serve.
5. If you used chicken parts, leave in the pan until you are ready to serve.
Cooking On a Grill:
Keep a very close eye on everything.
Onions and Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
1. Slice sweet onions and small potatoes into halves. Place in aluminum foil with butter or margarine, fresh chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste, then wrap tightly and place on one half of the grill. Turn at twenty minutes.
2. Place pieces of chicken on grill and cook for about thirty minutes. Thighs or legs take about fifteen minutes on one side; then turn and grill about ten minutes more. The breast takes about
ten minutes on one side; then turn and grill about five minutes more. On gas grills with the lid down, the pieces should take just a minute or two less.
3. After twenty-five minutes, check temperature with meat thermometer. Insert into thigh neither too close to the bone nor too to the skin. It should read 170ËšF to 175ËšF, or is done when the juices run clear after the thigh is pierced with a fork.
4. Remove the chicken from the grill, place on cutting board, and let rest for about fifteen minutes.
How to Cut up a Chicken:
After the chicken has rested ten to fifteen minutes, the juices will redistribute. Place the chicken (breast side up) on a cutting board. Divide the leg from the thigh by lifting the leg slightly, and cutting down firmly through the joint between the drumstick and the thigh. Repeat with the other leg. Move each thigh away from the body until you see the thighbone, then cut between the ball and the socket to separate the thigh from the body.
Pull each wing away from body, and cut down through the skin and the joint. Turn the chicken on to the breast side, cut parallel to the backbone, and slice the bones of the rib cage. Repeat on the opposite side of the backbone. Next, turn the breast over and cut through the top cavity to split the breastbone. You can also split each breast in half.
Cutting up a chicken this way yields eight pieces.
Sautéed String Beans
Cooking time: 10 minutes
¾ lb of fresh string beans
1 package of pre-cleaned beans
3 cloves of chopped garlic
½ cup of water
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Rinse string beans and remove the tips by cutting or snapping.
2. Place in a pan with water over medium heat, and cover for about five minutes.
3. If the water is not totally evaporated, strain the remaining liquid.
4. In the same pan add the olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Tossing the ingredients a couple of times, coat everything evenly.
6. Lightly cook the garlic about two to three minutes. Do not let the garlic burn, as it will taste bitter. Once the fragrance of garlic fills the air, the dish is ready to be served.
7. Taste for final seasoning.
To plate the entrée course:
Use either an entrée plate or a soup bowl, and spoon some of the cooked onions and juices into the middle of each plate, then place two pieces of chicken on top. Place the string beans around one side of the chicken and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.
Place the sliced potatoes around the chicken on the opposite side. Finish off by spooning the onions and cooking juices over the chicken and potatoes, add fresh ground pepper.
Before serving, wipe off any drips or spots on the rim of the plate.
Orange Sorbet Served in Fresh Navel Orange Half
2 navel oranges
1. Cut Navel oranges in half lengthwise, and with a spoon, scoop out the insides.
2. Dice some of the wedges and return enough to each half to cover the bottom.
3. Add a spoonful of whipped cream (it gives the dessert a bit of that â€• Creamsicle flavor).
4. Place in the freezer.
5. Remove from the freezer five minutes before serving, fill with orange sorbet, and top with remaining diced wedges.
6. Top with whipped cream.