Mack's Corner

This Week

Either you're here or you're not!

I got to go to Chicago on business a few years back. We got there a day early to save money on the airfare and got to go in to Chicago to have lunch. There are at least 5 of the best restaurants in the world there and you know I'm a food nut, so I was working hard to go have lunch at one of them. We went to The Frontera Grill, it was the only one that was open for lunch. Rick Bayless is the chef and he has a bunch of the recipes from his restaurants in his cookbooks. I have most of his
cookbooks. The one thing that I think about when I get a new cookbook is "Does it taste like it does in the restaurant?"  I don't really care if it tastes good or not, only if it tastes the same as what the chef makes. Then if I have someone over for dinner, I can say I've been there and it tastes just like that, you don't have to go to Chicago, you can just come over to my house and we'll have the real thing. I like that. I can travel the whole world right in my own kitchen.

One of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors is "The Making of a Chef" by Michael Ruhlman. It's about him going the culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America. He starts from day one like a regular student and writes about it along the way. The only thing different is that he's not a real student and all of the students and teachers know he's not a real student, he's a writer. He's almost finished with the first month of classes called "Skills" where they teach you how to use your knife, make stock and several other things that you need to know before you can move up to the next level. Everything builds on what you've learned before. The school is in upper New York State and one day before a big exam it starts to snow. Ruhlman is living 25 miles away from the school with his family. He gets home that night, driving through the snow, but it was scary. The next day he gets up to see that it's still snowing and he's thinking "I'll never get there and if I do I'll never get back. I'm not a real student so if I miss the exam I won't really fail, I'm not really here to pass or fail …. I'll call the teacher, Chef Pardus and tell him I'm not coming." So he does. The Chef pauses and says:

 "You and me we're cut from a different cloth, chefs work when everybody else is off, Christmas, Thanksgiving… we get there because we're cooks. It's OK If you don't come, I don't need to hear any excuses, it's OK. But when all is said and done, either you're here or you're not."….. 

Ruhlman drove the 25 miles in the snow and passed the exam.

God's like that: We come up with all kinds of excuses to avoid God. Things we've done in the past that we think will exclude us, things we think we need to fix first. So maybe we'll talk about it later, maybe not commit to anything now. But in the end either you're here or you're not. God knows we're human, we get scared, we screw up. You don't have to go anywhere or feel a certain way or have a bubbly personality to have a relationship with God, you can do it right here, it will taste just the same.……

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you.  Never excuse yourself.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

I think I'll go make some smoked duck tacos, we had that for lunch in Chicago, it tastes just like mine ….

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

Every time somebody tells me they have gone out of town I want to know where they went to eat. And if they tell me they go the San Francisco or Chicago or New York often I want to know what their favorite places are. It never fails that they ate at some chain Steak place and spent $300. You can do that here in Memphis!!! And better yet you can do it at Home for 1/10th the price. All you need is an Iron Skillet (Lodge Logic L8SK3 10-1/4-inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet on Amazon $15.92) and a good piece of meat. Go to Charlie's meat market and get Chuck to cut you one or if you want Prime, Costco and buy a whole Ribeye and cut it as thick as you want. Be sure to get a steak that's thick enough to stick an meat thermometer in it, about 2 inches.. (Amazon: Taylor Classic instant-read thermometer $4.48 or better still a Digital in-oven thermometer that you can stick in the meat and leave it.. $15 - $60.. Less than the cost of the steak) … If you have those 3 things anybody can cook a great steak .. Here's a recipe from Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio in Las Vegas..

Porterhouse With Lemon-Thyme Butter


1 3-lb., 2inch-thick porterhouse steak, at room temperature

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tbsp. canola oil

4 tbsp. unsalted butter

6 sprigs thyme

1 lemon, halved crosswise


1. Season steak heavily on both sides with salt and pepper; let sit for 30 minutes. Heat oven to 500°. Heat a 10inch cast-iron skillet over high heat until it begins to smoke. Add oil and steak; cook until lightly charred on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip steak, and transfer skillet to oven (if you have a digital in-oven thermometer with a probe, stick it in the meat before you put it in the oven. Then you have real-time temp readings); cook until medium-rare and an instant-read thermometer reads 127°, about 10 minutes. Transfer steak to a platter, and let rest for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pour off pan drippings and run a little water in the pan to cool it off, then return skillet to stove over high heat and add butter (Be careful here, don't burn your butter. If you do, pour it out, wipe out the pan and start over. Or skip this part. Don't ruin your steak with burnt butter. If you want, just put a couple of pats of butter on top of the steak and let them melt while the steak is resting. Then add the lemon juice.) and then thyme and lemon halves, cut sides down; cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Slice steak around the bone. Transfer to plates, and drizzle with butter from skillet. Serve with the lemon for drizzling.

Don't worry about #2. The main thing I want you to see is #1. YOU CAN COOK ANY STEAK LIKE THIS!!! And it will taste just like it does at Prime Steakhouse in Las Vegas.. Iron skillet + Thermometer + good piece of meat = Great Steak. Doesn't matter what you pay for it or who cooks it, it will taste the same. Might as well do it yourself.. You won't even have to get dressed up!

ps. Don't cook an expensive steak on a grill. You lose all the juice. You'll never see a great steak place cook steaks on a grill. And you'll never see a great steak with grill marks. If you like that grilled taste, stick with cheaper steaks (Choice, not Prime) But still use your meat thermometer. That's the most important thing. Never cook a steak past 140 degrees. That's what Larry Bird calls "Ruint". That's the way he likes it?  


How about saving a kid's life!!

When you give Platelets it's like giving St Jude $700 - $1000. If we don't give them, they have to buy them.

Giving Platelets is like giving blood, it just takes longer (1 1/2 hours) and you get all of your blood back (so you can do it every week if you want) . I know it's a long trip to go all the way down to St Jude, but you may be saving a kid's life . plus you get to watch a movie while you're there. Call Kim at 901.595.2024 and she'll setup an appointment and treat you like family. Just tell her you're from Hope.

Directions: From Poplar, turn north on Third Street, then right on Lauderdale/Jackson Ave (first right after you go under the expressway). Enter through the north guard gate (you'll see the Danny Thomas Pavilion. Gold top).

Tell the guard at the gate that you are here to donate blood. The guard will instruct you where to park. You will then enter the hospital by the red side door closest to the blood donor parking lot. The Blood Donor Center is in the southwest corner of the hospital on the ground floor.

Appointment times are generally available Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm. Except on Tuesdays they start at 9:15am.

See you this weekend. Bring a friend. It's going to be great!!!



Posted by Mack Oates at 8:36 AM