Whether you’re single or a happily married man with children, there are certain things that we need in our lives to keep us, well, grounded. For some, it’s the legendary and mythical “man cave”, for others it’s a fantasy sports team. For me, though, it’s the unchangeable list of ingredients and sundries that must occupy the fridge at all times. Consider them the proverbial “glue” that keeps your kitchen, whether well-stocked or not, together.
Not the crappy, limp-noodle kind. I’m talking about the thick, extra meaty kind. Extra points if you have some pancetta lying around. Great for a late night snack or early morning meal, bacon is a staple that should never be in short supply in your kitchen.
Pounds of it. The saltier the better. They say that butter is the universal lubricant, you know? Okay, well, I’m not exactly sure who “they” are but I fully endorse their proclamation. Saute, bake and baste with it. Put it on a French baguette, croissant or just plain old sliced toast. Whatever you do with it, make sure you’re liberal. One great suggestion is to put a nice-sized pat of it on an oven-cooked steak to create a chef’s sauce that you can then pour over the finished meat. Delicious.
3. Lemons and Limes
Squeeze them on fish and roasted meats. Use the limes as the “cooking” agent for ceviche or a garnish for a summer, ahem, libation or two. Take it a step further and squeeze a bit in a kitchen cleanser for a fresh scent after you’ve thrown down in the kitchen.
Large eggs or bigger. No compromise here. Perfect for everything under the sun. Crack a few to bake with or scramble some up for a 2:30 a.m. snack or perhaps an omelet or two. Cookies, cakes and everything in between.
Bonus – Goes well with bacon and pounds of butter.
In the south, it’s Duke’s. Mayo is perfect for sandwiches, binding other ingredients or you can even jazz it up to make a more flavorful variation of a culinary classic.
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t need a grandiose reason to celebrate, then keep a bottle of chilled bubbly in the fridge is mandatory. Keep a couple extra glasses around for you and your spouse (or nice lady friend).
7. Dijon Mustard
Essential for creating an on-the-fly vinaigrette, because I’d like to think you make your own salad dressing every now and again, right?
8. White wine
Not that shoddy “cooking sherry”. A crisp and dry white wine. Perfect for anything requiring a white wine sauce (shrimp, mussels, etc.) and absolutely crucial for deglazing saute pans. Also never hurts to pour yourself a glass while slaving over a hot stove.
Truly an all-purpose herb. Salsa fresca? If you’re not making it, you should be. A staple in most Latino dishes, it perks up tacos, sauces, soups and stews. Oh, and did I mention tacos?
10. Parmesan cheese
Not the processed, crappy kind you get in the canister. Treat yourself and get a chunk of the good stuff, Parmigiano-Reggiano. Shave it on some penne and red sauce or if you have nothing else, some oil, garlic and a healthy shaving of Parmigiano does the trick every time.