Book Review: Man Food by Billy Law

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It will come as absolutely no shock to you all that: I like bacon.

So it was always to be that I would purchase any book adorned with a picture of a delicious bacon weave, no matter what the content.

Man food or ‘dude’ food has had somewhat of a reinventing with numerous restaurants taking what was really just a term for greasy pub food and giving it a glamourous, often hipsterish makeover.

TV shows such as Masterchef have also helped with their deconstructed burgers and quadruple cooked potato chip foams et cetera and that is where Billy Law first emerged on to the Australian cooking scene a few seasons ago.

Man Food is Billy’s second release, the first being an Asian themed recipe book entitled Have You Eaten?

To begin Billy gives us his manifesto on what he believes man food is, that it’s “more than just deep fried everything with a side of bacon” (wait, what?) and that ultimately man food is “good food for a good time.”

Billy’s second passion is food photography and that’s evident throughout this book with fantastic shots of every recipe. I hate when there isn’t a picture of the recipe I want to cook so this book is perfect for me with beautifully shot pics of every dish.

The book is split into the following chapters:
– Snacks
– Manwiches
– Mostly Veg Sides
– Meat
– Sugar & Booze

Snacks

The first chapter starts the book off well with a variety of delicious snacks ranging from fried goods such as bacon and sage polenta fries, curry school prawns and bloomin’ onions with sriracha mayo through to classier pickings like duck rillettes and pipis in xo sauce.

It also includes different takes on some dishes I’ve trialled before such as candied bacon and hot wings with blue cheese sauce.

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Gusface Grillah’s candied bacon

Manwiches

Sandwiches and burgers are the foundation of the growing man food trend. Trendy burger bars are everywhere and more and more restaurants are starting to feature classic American sandwiches such as the Reuben and croque monsieur.

Billy uses the sandwich theme liberally featuring not only classic sandwiches such as the oyster po’boy but a hearty breakfast wrap, braised duck steam buns and soft shell crab souvlaki. That souvlaki I’m really looking forward to trying out as not only has it got deep fried crab but also contains hot chips and sriracha mayo!

While putting this review together I thought I would try Billy’s recipe for the Fools Gold sandwich, the Elvis inspired combination of peanut butter and bacon.

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The ingredients for the sandwich are: crusty bread, bacon (house smoked of course!), peanut butter, jam and maple syrup. I haven’t included quantities because it’s not rocket science. If you get stuck, they’re in the book.

Mostly Veg Sides

Even man food needs an accompaniment and this chapter helps you deliver in the manliest way possible. Almost every dish contains cheese and/or bacon – my pick of the bunch would be the cheesy dirty fries – chips that are smothered in cheese and bacon.

Meat

Look, I have to express my disappointment in the severe lack of BBQ in the whole book but especially in this section. As the author of a BBQ blog I’m clearly biased but I truly think one of man’s greatest freedoms is heading out to the backyard, beer in hand to tend to his BBQ. It’s the closest I will ever come to meditation.

That out of the way there are some great dishes in this section and plenty that could be adapted to the BBQ (perhaps a future post).

Billy again challenges you that man food is more than just fried foods and bacon and as much as it pains me to admit that, I think he’s right.

Clearly well travelled, this section features recipes from all over the globe such as Cajun crab boil, shrimp étouffée, fried chicken and waffles and Asian glazed beef ribs.

Don’t worry there’s still plenty of heart stoppers in the mix with maple chipotle pork ribs, lobster mac and cheese and bacon kaboom (Billy’s take on the bacon explosion). I need that mac and cheese in my life it sounds so outrageously decadent.

Sugar & Booze

Readers of this site will know I have recently commenced a foray into the world of desserts, generally ones that involve beer and/or bacon.

The final chapter definitely caters to those wants with dishes such as maple glazed ‘dossants’ (sort of like a cronut), bacon and stout cheesecake (omg yes) and bourbon maple pecan pie (although Billy should perhaps consider this version for added bacon goodness).

While Billy does encourage the reader to push the boundaries of what is man food, I do question some of the entries such as the chocolate candy cake, there’s no beer OR bacon and who could be bothered decorating a cake. However perhaps this is just because desserts are not my forte.

To Summarise:

Likes
– Solid gourmet takes on some greasy man food classics.
– Beautiful food photography throughout the entire book
– A diverse range of recipes that challenge the definition of man food and encourage you to improve your skills in the kitchen.

Dislikes
– Lack of BBQ cooking!
– Question the inclusion of a few dishes as man food: chocolate candy cake, kale stuffed lamb…

Who This Book is For
There’s no specific equipment requirements for this book so it’s suitable for anyone that wants a few new ideas to impress their mates on the weekend. There’s plenty of meals in there that even the missus will like too.

Man Food is available nationally at most bookstores.

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One Response to Book Review: Man Food by Billy Law

  1. Sugarcrush says:

    Did someone say BACON?? I’m definitely there! 🙂 According to Amazon.com in the US, this book will be released on May 5, 2015 and can be preordered for $24.02 USD. Thanks for the heads-up on this book, Gus….it’s going on my must-have list.

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