As third- and fourth-date deal-clinchers go, cooking at home is one of the best ideas. It’s intimate, there’s activity involved, and it’s one of the few times in which the transition to the bedroom doesn’t require either party to utter any variation of the unfortunate "back to your place" cliché.
The problem for many single men (and some women) is that we don’t know how to cook; we either get in over our heads and embarrassingly fail, or make such simple dishes (grilled cheese, Skillet Sensations) that the evening has the opposite effect, becoming a totally unimpressive and unsexy display. Or worse, our culinary shortcomings prevent us from even trying in the first place.
I speak from experience here. One particularly awful attempt nearly caused me to hang up my chef’s jacket for good. I tried to grill marinated chicken breasts on a stovetop grill pan, but all the smoke set off the fire alarms. So while I manically tried to transfer the breasts into the oven, my date was blinking her watery, smoke-filled eyes while waving a dishrag at the ceiling. In my haste to move past this disaster as quickly as possible, and because I’d completely lost track of how long the chicken had been cooking for, I prematurely took them out of the oven — so when she cut into the breast, it was just blood red. When I put them back in, we were left with plates of steamed broccoli and white rice.
Amazingly, we never went out again.
But failures like these ultimately haven’t defeated me. After giving it several more tries, I’ve found that if certain precautions are taken, and you bite off just enough for you to chew (forgive the metaphor), you really don’t have to be a Top Chef to pull it off. Following are 10 tips, detailing advice for how best to prepare for the meal and then how to pull it off.