Fathers day: a call to arms
Father’s Day can be about giving gifts, it can also be about giving your skill and your time in the form of a home-cooked meal.
Though the following recipes will fit that bill, this is also a call to arms for all males to give cooking a go if you’re not already doing it. Not only is it easy, fun, and hugely attractive to other people — especially women — producing good food, however simple, is also profoundly satisfying.
Cooking makes you better understand food, giving you power over your diet and health. For centuries, a healthy diet has been predicated on home cooking. It was around the time of the advent of an aggressive modern food industry (that discouraged cooking and made processed food and food that was formerly only an occasional treat available 24/7) that obesity and the diseases associated with bad diet became prevalent.
Having a familiar repertoire of cooking methods and techniques in the form of well-used recipes is like having an amazing toolkit that you constantly add to. You have an increasing ability to do any job when it comes to food. Just as a carpenter or IT programmer learn sets of steps to do their jobs, a cook learns methods and techniques that can be applied to many different combinations of ingredients.
Recipes are not separate entities but delicious examples of how to carry out these methods and techniques. All good cooks learn how to mix and match using the methods and techniques they have learned. Experienced cooks often cook without recipes.
The good news is that cooking is an exponential discipline: not only do you get better the more you do it, but the more you do it the faster you get better. A heads-up: plan ahead, be organised, learn to clean as you go — mess slows you down —and only cook when you have time for the particular dish you want to make, cooking in a rush is unpleasant.
I once had a wise teacher who said that the ultimate judge of anything has to be oneself, so I like, among other things, burgers, fried things and a good steak. As I think these things also have wide appeal, these are the recipes that follow.
I love anything crumbed and fried. I also never mind acknowledging where my ideas for recipes come from, so when I liked the look of the chicken katsu recipe in Donna Hay’s book Life in Balance, I decided to do my version.
It is basically sliced crumbed chicken served with steamed jasmine rice and a salad with Asian flavours. Get the recipe
Don’t mess with a good piece of steak — there is no need to reinvent the wheel. A piece of steak that is lovingly panfried only needs some good things to go with it so I made a sauce of sour cream, grated horseradish, chives, finely chopped red onion, capers and gherkin to go on the steak.
I served it with golden roasted chunks of agria potatoes and a simple salad of very thinly sliced fennel, quick-pickled in a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, salt and extra virgin olive oil, then tossed with baby cos leaves. I used sirloin for this but any steak will be good. Get the recipe
This is peppery, falling-apart-tender braised pork shoulder stuffed into a bun with gravy, baby cos, sauerkraut, gherkins and sliced roasted beetroot.
The pork takes two hours to cook but don’t be put off by that, it’s not like a risotto that needs constant attention — the oven does all the work while you relax. This pork can be made in advance and reheated. I have also thrown it in the freezer and resurrected it successfully. Get the recipe