Yes, it is possible for dudes to cook good food that everyone loves, without feeling the heat and pressure often associated with top-notch food, says Ant Ellis.
Alright, dude food is a thing. While it sounds terribly exclusionary in 2023, it’s defined as food for those with a big appetite for generous, heavy, meaty, greasy dishes – known to over-satiate, stretch the waistband, and, occasionally deliver the good ol’ meat sweats – which can lead directly to remorse and cheese-fuelled hallucinations. I don’t need to tell you that eating food like this any more than “now-and-then” can be dangerously unhealthy – and while a Quadruple Bypass Burger™ or Coronary Dog™ is fun at the time, especially washed down with a few brews, I can’t recommend it with a clear conscience, let alone artery.
But let’s move on to my version of dude food, which is simply top-notch food that I believe dudes of all ages and persuasions can and should cook, all by themselves, and way beyond the braai. I’m talking almost fool-proof recipes with accessible, everyday ingredients that will please themselves, the ladies, the kiddos, the mother-in-law, and even the harshest of critics; their friends.
I have two extremely smart and talented brothers I often ask to test my recipes, and I absolutely love hearing their feedback which most often includes the ego-feeding words “delicious” and “easy”. So John and Chris, this one’s for you. Girlfriends, wives, daughters and mothers, prepare to be amazed! Because while this is rock ’n roll, easy and comforting food for dudes, by dudes, it’s also family-friendly, quick night-off stuff for you, too.
The time for can’t or won’t cook is over, amigos. Grab an apron, crank some music, and let’s go. Follow these two easy recipes and claim your place in the family tree as the legendary trailblazer who liberated future generations from the shackles of stereotypical male inadequacy in the kitchen. Or something.
The Easiest Spaghetti Bolognese
Remember two things: a) do all your prep first; and b) clean as you go. Both game-changers!
•2 tablespoons good olive oil
•1 large onion, finely chopped
•4 cloves garlic, chopped
•500g lean beef mince
•1 glass red wine (don’t bother with the good stuff, plonk is great)
•1 level teaspoon dried oregano
•2 tablespoons tomato purée
•2x400g tins of chopped, peeled tomatoes
•1 good sized handful fresh basil, chopped
•salt and pepper to taste
•grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions, cook until lightly golden, 2-3 minutes max, stirring often. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add mince and cook while stirring often until no pink shows at all in the meat (8-10 minutes). Add red wine and stir, let the booze burn off – about a minute – then add oregano and tomato purée, and mix with the meat. Add tinned tomatoes and basil, stir and turn the heat up until boiling. Season generously with salt and pepper, then reduce heat to low, and cook for at least 20 minutes (longer for deeper flavour). Adjust seasoning by adding a bit of salt and pepper at a time, stirring and tasting, repeat until it’s the greatest. During the sauce cooking time, cook spaghetti according to the pack instructions in heavily salted water, and drain just before serving. Serve with either the sauce mixed through the spaghetti, or with the sauce on top. Finish with lashings of cheese, fresh basil leaves and cracked black pepper with a side of crusty bread.
Lunchbox Oat Squares
•1 cup mashed ripe bananas
•1/2 cup peanut butter
•2 1/4 cups instant oats
•2 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a shallow baking tray with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl mix bananas and peanut butter, stir until fully combined and uniform in colour. Add oats and honey, stir until evenly mixed. Pour mixture into baking tray and spread evenly, smoothing the surface. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the top looks set and cooked. Let cool fully before removing from the tray and cutting into squares.
Until next time: There’ll be more in this series that will help you knuckleheads become more self-assured in the kitchen. If I was a gambling man, I’d put R50 on your ulterior motive of getting into the good graces of the fairer sex.