For this post I invited Graeme Faulks to review this post. He lives in Edinburgh’s New Town is a keen amateur cook, an avid follower of food and a great lover of wine.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with GQ, it is a monthly, unashamedly gentlemanly magazine (some would say a male journalistic institution) and in September this year they released a cookbook GQ Eats: The cookbook for men of seriously good taste aimed solely at their usual target audience of the discerning, sophisticated male – even the cover states ‘the cookbook for men of seriously good taste’. With a foreword by Heston Blumenthal I was tempted to accuse the publication of name dropping, but flicking past the foreword it becomes immediately obvious that the recipes are well thought out and have been picked for their technical substance as well as their marketability.
You will find a wealth of recipes to impress (Michelin starred chefs have their own section) as well as a smattering from less stellar luminaries of the restaurant world; they all have detailed descriptions, well-presented accompanying photographs and are neatly categorised into typically manly chapters such as ‘Boys Night In’ and ‘Pub Food favourites’. The cocktail section also offers up creations from legendary bars such as the Playboy Club (continuing on the macho theme) and The Connnaught.
So with all this testosterone and masculinity who did I think would be the best person to try out a recipe on? My more than sceptical girlfriend of course.
Trying not to over awe her with too much red blooded meatiness (steak tartare, cow pie and an entire roast section all feature) I opted to impress her with the chicken and chips. This sounds simple enough, until I add that it is attributed to Michelin Galactico Alain Ducasse, who simply does not do simple.
The chicken required 24 hours of marinating in orange juice, and then several stages of preparation and cooking where it was browned and then simmered in a mix of the marinade, orange, lime and grapefruit rind and juice, spring onions and coriander.
And then there were the chips ….
Of course with Ducasse as the architect it wasn’t anything as straight forward as potato chips. They were to be made from chickpea flour (acquired on a lunch time visit to an Asian food shop on Morrison Street), and required preparation a day ahead.
The preparation entailed 20 minutes of gruelling stirring as the flour cooked out, which I took in turns with my reluctant guinea pig, by then regretting that she had ever agreed to be experimented on.
Then it was refrigerated for at least 6 hours, cut into chips and shallow fried whilst the chicken was cooking.
Finally, serving up looked nothing like the elegant photograph in the pages of the book (do they ever?), but the chicken was moist and citrusy, had layers of flavour, the chips were crispy (tasted mid fry they were limp and floury) and all in all I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Even my female partner gave an appreciative nod across the dinner table, although she was less than keen on the unfamiliar taste/texture combination of the chips.
Looking back through all the recipes not one of them is simple, and even with my well stocked, amateur cook’s cupboard I couldn’t make a single one of the recipes without a well-planned shopping trip.
But that is what I like about this book – not its attempt at unabated masculinity, but its presentation of recipes that are interesting and even challenging. It would have been much easier to put together a typically macho assortment of barbecue and steak favourites but this tries to push you to try something new.
Do not be fooled into thinking this is just a gimmicky men’s cookbook as it is much more than that.
However, I do wonder how many owners/recipients of this book would go to the bother of collating all the ingredients for a recipe, let alone attempting to assemble them into a dish. My fear is that it will be given, perhaps as a stocking filler, and that its pages won’t see the light of day through into 2014.But I can be pretty certain that my well-thumbed copy will be in use well beyond Christmas.
- For the chicken
- 5 oranges
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 lime
- 1 pink grapefruit
- 100ml (3fl oz) olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black
- 1 bunch of spring onions, halved
- bunch of fresh coriander
- For the crispy panisses fries
- 1 litre (1 pints) water
- 25g (1oz) butter
- olive oil
- 250g (9oz) chickpea (gram) flour
- salt and freshly ground black
- Squeeze the juice of three of the oranges into a bowl and marinate the chicken breasts in the juice for 24 hours.
- Next day, remove the rinds of the remaining oranges, the lime and half the grapefruit and cut the rinds into strips. Reserve the flesh. Place the rinds in 600ml (1 pint) water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Change the water and boil the rinds again, then set them aside.
- Cut the reserved citrus flesh into 2cm (3/4in) cubes.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Heat the olive oil in a casserole dish. Season the chicken breasts and roast them in the casserole, skin-side down, for 2 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts, add the spring onions and cook for 2 minutes, then add the reserved citrus flesh and rinds. Cover the casserole and cook for 3 minutes, then add
- the marinade and half the coriander. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the casserole and reduce the sauce. Put the chicken breasts back into the casserole with the remaining coriander and heat through. Serve immediately with panisse fries
- For the crispy panisses fries
- Heat half the water with the butter and a dash of olive oil in a large pan.
- Put the chickpea flour into a bowl and add the remaining water gradually while whipping until the mixture has an even texture. Sieve the mixture well, then pour it into the boiling mix of water, butter and oil and cook overa low heat for 20 minutes while whipping constantly.
- Pour the paste into an oiled square cake mould, then chase the air from the mould by hitting it. Cover the mould with clingfilm and wait until the paste cools completely, then refrigerate for 6 hours.
- Remove the paste from the mould and cut it into chip-sized sticks.
- Heat a frying pan with 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the fries until they are crispy and golden on both sides. Drain on kitchen paper.
- Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper
Find out more
GQ Eats, Edited by Paul Henderson. GQ’s Food and Drink Editor
Publisher: Mitchell Beazley
Photography and recipe are both Copyright GQ Magazine 2013 and should not be reproduced without permission.
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