I am a man who loves two things: Cooking and small, specific, easily conquerable markets. To that end, I'm developing a series of cookbooks aimed at hitherto unaddressed corners of the cookbook-buying marketplace. Previously, I wrote a book on Cooking For Your Doomed Relationship (currently unpublished), and to continue my efforts to provide thorough cooking guides for those of us who don't fit into the mainstream cookbook-buying audience, I'm pleased to announce my latest niche guide to fine home dining.
Author and all around Guy-Who-Talks-And-Thinks-About-Pop-Culture-Too-Much Chuck Klosterman defines a nemesis as someone that you "kind of like, despite the fact that you despise him." A nemesis is someone with whom you are incredibly competitive, to an at times unhealthy degree. "People who barely know both of you assume you are close friends; people who know both of you intimately suspect that you profoundly dislike each other," Klosterman says. It's easy to recognize your nemesis (it's the one close friend you have who you probably once seriously contemplated murdering), but how do you cook for your nemesis in a way that forces him/her to acknowledge their laughable inadequacies? Klosterman and, indeed, the world, have been silent on this subject. Until now.
What Do You Bench, About a Buck-10? Buck-20? Spicy Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
Everyone brings hot dogs and burgers to a barbecue, why not spice things up -- literally! Spicy bacon-wrapped shrimp is delicious and original, and it's a surefire way to make sure you, and only you, will be the talk of the town at your next local BBQ. NOTE: The intense spiciness isn't for everyone, so these are also a good way to weed out who among your party isn't, you know, man enough to handle a little heat.
1.) The first and most important thing you need to do is develop a stoic immunity for spicy foods and, specifically, multiple chipotle peppers. Work on this step for about a year leading up to your neighborhood BBQ.
2.) Position the skewers 9.5 to 10 feet away from wherever you will be preparing your food.
3.) Shell and devein the shrimp that you yourself caught. Make sure you carry the 300+ pounds of shrimp in a giant sack, and when your Nemesis asks if you need help, assure him that you're fine, and that you wouldn't want him to strain himself and that, further, his alarmingly small hands are ill-suited for the work of men. [NOTE: The cooking only actually requires, like, a pound of shrimp. The rest is for establishing dominance.]
4.) Rinse the shrimp thoroughly and let them sit in the water.
5.) Cook the bacon in a large skillet over the fire you built, but only do it halfway. Name this process of not seeing something to its full conclusion, or doing something half-assed, after your Nemesis. (For example, if your Nemesis is named "Paul," you might consider saying "Yeah, the fire wasn't committed or thorough or attentive -- it really Paulled that bacon!")
6.) Prepare your spicy BBQ sauce, by mixing the peppers, fresh hand-squeezed lemon juice, half of the canola oil, garlic, sauce and chipotle peppers. Announce that one could simply throw the ingredients into a blender and mix them that way, but that you were never interested in taking the easy way out.
7.) Thinly slice your chipotle peppers with a giant axe much in the way, you might casually remark, former president Abraham Lincoln would have done.
8.) When the peppers are thoroughly chopped and the brutish yet precise nature of your axe-swinging forces you to perform the rest of the recipe shirtless, mix the chopped peppers with the rest of the sauce in a bowl or whatever. It's not important, everyone will be too distracted because you've ...
9.) Accidentally poured the remainder of the canola oil all over yourself, and the way your rippling, glorious, pectoral muscles glisten in the sun is impossible to ignore.
"Come to think of it, maybe the pants should go too, yeah?"
10.) Chop the bacon in half with, you guessed it, the axe.
11.) Carefully wrap piece of bacon around each shrimp.
12.) Now that it's time to get the skewers, reach them in a single bound, subtly reminding those in attendance of your impressive standing long jump.
13.) Act like it wasn't even a thing.
14.) Leap back to your preparation table, and repeat step 13.
15.) Pierce the shrimp right where the bacon meets (so it doesn't unravel), and make sure you use two skewers, running parallel to each other. This will keep the shrimp from sliding or twisting when you have to flip them over.
16.) Express no surprise when you learn that your Nemesis has never considered the elegant, dual-skewer solution, as he/she has never really been known for his/her initiative and problem-solving skills.
17.) With four shrimp threaded on each set of double skewers, throw them all on the grill, basting them with the spicy BBQ sauce as they cook, five minutes on one side, four on the other.
18.) Remove from flame. Allow absolutely no time to cool. Dip the bacon-wrapped shrimp in whatever spicy BBQ sauce is leftover. The sauce is very, very spicy, so this is where your year-long tolerance of spice will pay off. Eat those hot, hot bastards without breaking a sweat.
19.) Get a real juicy, dripping-with-sauce piece of shrimp, hand it to your Nemesis and watch him eat it.
20.) With everyone watching, let your Nemesis know that there's water around "If, you know, you need it." Because you certainly don't.
When I Traveled Abroad, I Learned How To Make This Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Breast Stuffed With Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
Your Nemesis isn't just at the barbecue pit -- he's everywhere. This cookbook strives to prepare you for every situation, which brings us to bacon-wrapped chicken, a perfect meal for an evening of fine dining among friends. It's succulent, filling and surprisingly easy to make! Also if spicy shrimp was your opportunity to display your physical superiority, this dish is perfect for highlighting your worldliness, wealth and success. [NOTE: Those who don't have worldliness are strongly encouraged to fake it.]
[Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.]
1.) Melt the butter in a saucepan.
2.) Add 1/3 cup of your fine, dry Riesling. Let the two settle into each other; the ordinary, everyday, schlubby butter and the refined, expensive, impressive wine mixing together much like, you should offhandedly mention to your guests, your ability to mix socially with the common, butterfaced nobody that is your Nemesis.
3.) Using one of your exotic knives, cut up the prosciutto into thin slices, and chop the garlic.
4.) Throw out those knives, assuring your guests you can get more whenever you want and, really stress this, you mean "literally whenever I want."
5. Cook the prosciutto and garlic in the wine-butter sauce for just about 1:30, being careful not to overcook.
6.) Remove the prosciutto and garlic, pat it dry and set it aside.
7.) Cut a slit into the thick side of each chicken breast, about two inches long and 1.5 inches deep.
8.) Repeat Step 4.
9.) Since nothing's going on, take this opportunity to tell your guests about how you learned this recipe while on some exotic and exciting adventure that changed your life (climbing Mount Everest or being Knighted by the Queen or freeing Tibet, and so forth).
10.) Mix the prosciutto, garlic, spinach and cheese together in a decidedly un-fancy bowl. If anyone observes that the relative ordinariness of the bowl stands out among your otherwise impressive kitchen, explain that it holds sentimental value, as it was a gift from a former lover. [Note: This lover has to be someone for whom your Nemesis used to have profound feelings. If you and your Nemesis did not compete over the same woman/man at some point, then he/she is not really your Nemesis.]
11.) Diligently stuff the cheese mixture inside the open and inviting chicken breast. Feel free to remark that the act of repeatedly shoving meat into a crevice also reminds you of the former lover referenced in Step 10.
12.) Wrap the stuffed chicken breast in the turkey bacon. At the seams, pierce through with toothpicks made from the actual ark that Noah built. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish and place in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until all of the pink inside the chicken is gone, or until your Nemesis shames him/herself to death.
13.) Add lemon juice and the tiniest pinch of cinnamon to the wine/butter sauce. If this addition seems strange to your guests, offhandedly mention that it was a very tasty tip handed down to you by Mother Theresa [or Bill Gates or Jimmy Carter or Snoop Dogg -- whoever is considered important in your circle].
14.) While the chicken is baking and the sauce is simmering on low heat, point out that, even though bacon and cheese are involved, the chicken is only 300 calories and actually quite healthy. This is important because, as you will remark to your other guests, your Nemesis used to be very, very fat. [NOTE: Ideally, your Nemesis will have been fat, but it's still an effective thing to say even if it's false.]
15.) Cover the chicken in the lemon-butter-wine sauce and serve it with an impossible assortment of eight to 10 forks of varying size and level of beauty.
16.) Laugh good-naturedly when your Nemesis inevitably chooses the wrong fork. What a social faux pas!
Oh, Were You Allergic To Peanuts? I Had No Idea
This dish is perfect for if that asshole is allergic to peanuts, which he is.
1.) Get a thing, like ice cream or pies or mashed potatoes, or something.
2.) Hide a shitload of peanuts throughout.
3.) As his/her throat starts to swell, he/she will probably ask you to call the hospital with a final breath. To this, you should respond, "I'm sorry, there is no cellphone reception here at my remote, luxury cabin in the mountains."
4.) The rest of your guests are probably curious about the specifics of your remote, luxury cabin in the mountains. Take this time to answer their questions about cost, maintenance, number of hot tubs and so forth.
5.) As your Nemesis is nearing his/her death, quickly and efficiently pull out a syringe full of whatever it is that saves people who are dying from a peanut allergy (I think it's insulin but please please please check before you prepare this dish), and nonchalantly save his/her life.
6.) Your Nemesis will have to thank you. Loud, and in front of everyone.
Also be sure to point out frequently that your Nemesis probably enjoys the things on this list: The 9 Most Terrifying Attempts to Improve Popular Foods. Get get more from Dan in A Series of Emails From Cyberdyne's New Tech Guy.