Mack's Corner

This Week -

This week 2-09-16

Logic Theory

I was talking to 2 of my favorite people a few years ago. They were young and getting married soon. As soon as I sat down he looked at me and said "What's the first thing that pops in to your head when I say "Valentines Day". I said "Dinner". He put his head on the table and his Wife-to-be smiled really big. He wanted me to say it was dumb and silly. But I've been married for 37 years and even though it took me 20 years to figure it out, I now know that Valentine's Day is a big deal. It's one of the 5 times during the year that you get bonus points for being romantic. It's like triple coupon day at Kroger. Those 5 times are Christmas, Wife's/ Girlfriend's birthday, Valentines day, Mother's day (if you've got kids), and WEDDING ANNIVERSARY DAY (yep, I put it in all caps, it's the biggie). If you show up big on these days, you can screw up 8 or 10 times and still be OK. But! ..If you mess up on the big 5 or actually forget, especially #5. It's bad.. your screw-up quota may even go in to negative numbers. Here's the deal: you don't have to spend a lot of money to be romantic. For some reason 1 rose is just as good as a dozen but not as good as 2 dozen (I usually go for 2 dozen). Don't ask me to explain, I'm just telling you how it is. A small box of 2 chocolate truffles is good (one for you, one for her = chocolate kiss, get it?). A box of 2 dozen chocolates is bad because you actually think that she could eat that many. It's like taking her to McDonald's and thinking it's a good idea to order her 2 Big Mac's. Coffee and muffins outside at Starbucks, holding hands is better than dinner at the Piccadilly Cafeteria, but not near as good as dinner at the Peabody (getting dressed is also a plus - girls like dressing up.. I know, it's a mystery to me too).. An ok romantic comedy is better than going to see "Fast and Furious 47", just get through it, it will pay off later. This is all logic theory: if A=B and B=C then A=C .. i.e. "If it's important to somebody else, and that somebody else is important to you then it's important to you." Who knew? Say that a thousand times. This falls under the category of "Things I know now that I wish I had known then". Nobody ever told me.......  I'm way smarter now..

God's like that: People think God only cares about big things, war, hunger .. stuff like that. But really, God cares about anything that you care about. If it's important to you, it's important to him (See logic above).
I guess now that I wrote this my wife will have high expectations? Better!


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

I don't know if you like Mario Batali, he's kinda out there sometimes. BUT He is the real thing. He cooks real Italian food, not American Italian Food. I'm a real fan of his food .. Here's 2 examples. Both are very simple..(((my notes)))

Spaghetti with Artichokes and Pancetta


1 lemon, halved (((you only need this if you use fresh artichokes)))
8 baby artichokes (about 1 pound)(((Sure you can use the kind in a jar. Just wash them well first. Not same , but much, much easier.)))
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
One 2-ounce piece of lardo or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice (((or bacon fat. You can get Lardo at Porcellino's on Brookhaven Cir.)))
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound spaghetti (((use good pasta De Cecco in the baby blue & Yellow box is my favorite)))
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving (((no powdered stuff)))


(((If you use fresh artichokes))) Fill a large bowl with water. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon halves, then add the lemon halves to the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, peel off the dark green outer leaves. Cut off the top fourth of the artichoke; peel and trim the stem. Slice the artichoke lengthwise 1/8 inch thick and drop into the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and lardo and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes; discard the lemon. Add the artichokes to the saucepan, cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Add the white wine, cover and simmer over moderately low heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente (((if you use De Cecco, read the box for cooking times))). Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water to the artichokes and toss over moderate heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the 1/4 cup of cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pasta, passing more grated cheese at the table.


Herb-and-Cheese-Filled Chicken Thighs


1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese (4 1/2 ounces)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Provolone cheese (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil (((Roll all of the leaves up longways like a small cigar. Then cut across. This is called a chiffonade.)))
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
16 boneless chicken thighs with skin (about 5 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Kitchen String (Kroger)


Preheat the oven to 450°.

In a medium bowl, combine the fresh bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, eggs, Provolone, chopped basil, chopped parsley, lemon zest and rosemary.

Set the chicken thighs, skin side down, on a work surface and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Mound 1/4 cup of the herb-and-cheese filling on each thigh. Fold the sides of the thighs over the filling to enclose it and tie each chicken thigh in 2 or 3 places with kitchen string. (((Don't cut your string before you start!!! Simply hold the thigh with one hand, have your ball of string in a drawer next to your where you're working or in a deep bowl so that you can unravel it without it running across the floor. Hold one end of the string against the thigh with the same hand holding the thigh. Then with the other hand wrap 2 turns of string around the thigh, kinda tight. This will hold the thigh, so you can let go now. Tie off the string and cut it. If the thigh needs another piece of string, do it again. Remember the string is going away as soon as the thighs are cooked. Nobody will see it except you.))) Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Arrange the stuffed chicken thighs on a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown(((internal temp should be 165))). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then discard the strings and serve. (((always line you baking sheet with parchment or foil)))

The uncooked, stuffed chicken thighs can be refrigerated overnight. Let them return to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:29 PM