So as official things go, holidays are sometimes a little unofficial; said holidays basically being days which a society decided at some point merited a particular significance. Like Armistice Day, to memorialize the end of hostilities in World War I, which at the time was an event that nobody thought required a sequel. Or Thanksgiving, the story of which is a crazy mishmash of myth and convenient retellings of history that gets moved around at the convenience of the calendar.  (But as long as there is some kind of herby, buttery, giblet and gravy stuffing, I will forgive all of that…)

There are also holidays that we create for our own entertainment, like Talk Like a Pirate Day, or National Princess Day, which also happens to be my birthday. So maybe that last one should be worldwide. Anyhow, the other holiday in this vein is National Men Make Dinner Day.  The description of this holiday, as found on this site reads as follows:

Are YOU a guy who cooks on a regular basis? A man who is at home in the kitchen, and enjoys creating culinary delights for yourself, your family and friends? Fantastic! You are in the majority! Also, this means National Men Make Dinner Day is NOT for you!

So the holiday is for those guys who do not cook on a regular basis, who is not at home in the kitchen. The guy that does not enjoy creating food for anyone, for whatever reason.  Oddly enough, there are rules to this holiday, some of which I will list here.  The first is basically that this is the day for that guy to lose their hangups and provide the family with their meal, all on his own.

To wit:

Rule #3: Man, completely un-aided, chooses a ‘published’ recipe from any source, or Internet. Getting the recipe from ‘her’ cookbooks is allowed, but man gets bonus points if the recipe isn’t already somewhere in the house.

Rule #4: Main meal must include minimum of 4 ingredients and require at least one cooking utensil other than a fork

Rule #5: Man goes shopping for ‘all’ necessary ingredients. Bonus points if he takes inventory of cupboards and fridge first, before shopping trip. So you don’t end up with two 64 ounce jars of pickled pimentos.

Rule #7: Man may, if desired, turn on radio or his favorite CD. Man agrees not to be within 30 feet of TV remote during cooking process. At this point, spouse and any other family members should not be anywhere near kitchen. (unless smoke detector goes off!)

Rule #12: After meal, He is given a hug, and his TV remote is returned to him.

Sure, there are other rules, but then again, where we’re going, we don’t need…rules.

I, therefore, as one of the guys who does not qualify for the holiday, both being someone who cooks and has worked in restaurants, will provide some fairly easy but tasty and slightly impressive recipes for those who do. The only rule I ask that you follow is DON’T BE A WUSS WITH SEASONING.

First, your main course:

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Lemon wedges

  1. In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil until it is shimmering. Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, and oregano. Place them skin side down in the skillet, and cook on medium high until the skin is crisped and browned, about 8 minutes, and then flip and cook for at least 8 more minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside to rest.
  2. In the same skillet, lower to medium heat, and melt the butter. Stir in garlic and cook about 1 minute. Add the cherry tomatoes and season all with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst. Then add the spinach and cook until spinach is beginning to wilt. Stir while you are doing this.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan, and bring mixture to a simmer. Then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet and cook until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.

Your Vegetables:

Random Orzo

Ingredients
1 package (16 ounces) orzo pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound diced golden beets
3/4 pound cubed butternut squash
1/4 pound diced red beets
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons garlic powder
Generous Splash of Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Stick of butter

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions. (boil for 9 minutes in salted water, drain, and set aside)
  2. While orzo cooks, mix the vegetables in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil, the balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 12 minutes.  Meanwhile, over low heat, melt butter and oil together in a large skillet.  Add the cooked vegetables to the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Stir them until they are covered with oil and butter until they are well browned, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the orzo, the vegetables with the pan juices, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest; toss to combine. Taste the dish, and add any more of the previous as needed.

The Starch Part of the dinner (recipe mostly from Anthony Bourdain):

Pommes Anna

Ingredients:
3lb Gold Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 sticks butter, melted
salt and freshly-ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Liberally brush the inside of a 12″ saute pan or cast iron skillet with some of the melted butter. Arrange the potato slices in concentric overlapping rings emanating from the center of the pan, forming layers until all of the potato slices have been used. Carefully brush each layer with butter and season each layer with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the pan on the stove and cook, undisturbed, over medium heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 to 4 minutes or so. Transfer the potatoes to the oven and cook until browned and cooked through, about 30 minutes, pressing the potatoes occasionally to compress and shaking the pan to prevent the potatoes sticking to the pan.
  4. Drain any excess butter from the pan and carefully flip the potato cake out onto a large plate. Slice into wedges and serve.

Bon Appetit, my men, bon appetit.

Tony Moir is a cyborg who holds world records in synchronized luge and panda steeplechase. Or maybe he isn’t. But he lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and three outstanding sons.

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