Mack's Corner

This Week -

You had to be there!

I've been listening to John Grisham's book Playing for Pizza.. (all the really great books are from the south too). It's a story about an ex NFL football player that moves to Italy to play in the Italian football league. He moves to Parma, home of Parma Ham and Parmesan Cheese (specifically Parmigiano-Reggiano) and great wine and beautiful country and beautiful people. (I hope if they kick me out, they make me move to Parma…) He goes there thinking his life is over, nothing to do, no big contracts, no big stadiums, no Sunday night football, no cheerleaders.. and finds the game that he loves, real football, played by guys who love the game. Nobody gets paid except for him, he's the only star. Everybody else plays for fun… He falls in love, eats everything.. life is good... I got about halfway through the book and I couldn't stand it anymore. So I went to Whole Foods and got home Parma Ham (Prosciutto), some Parmigiano-Reggiano, Italian bread, good olive oil and went home to be Italian. I needed some grape vines and olive trees in the back yard, but it was a nice day so it was close enough. I love that I don't have to go to Italy to taste it. Parma Ham in Memphis is the same Parma Ham in Italy. Parmigiano-Reggiano in Memphis is the same Parmigiano-Reggiano in Italy. Barolo wine in Memphis is the same Barolo wine in Italy.. you don't really have to be there to experience some of it..

Gods Like that: People think God only shows up at church. Or, when their life gets better, then they will experience God. Well, God doesn't live at church and he's not waiting for some event in the future. The God that lives at your house is the same God that lived in Solomon's house in the Old Testament, the same one that lives at the Pope's house in Rome, The same one that lived at Mother Teresa's house in India. The God that wants to be part of your life now is the same God that's part of Billy Graham's life now. You don't have to go anyplace or be somebody else to experience God. He's ready right now. He's right there.

I wonder how long it takes to learn Italian? Maybe I could just find somebody who makes Tennessee Cheese, I've already got the ham and I know the language.. Plus I wouldn't have to move ..


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

Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel sauce is one of the great things every cook should know how to make. It's almost too easy. It's a standard roux sauce = roux with liquid added. In "Ratio" Ruhlman has it as 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat… that's too hard. Just use equal amounts of both and throw in a little more flour. So 1 tbl butter & 1 tbl flour +… 2 tbl olive oil & 2 tbl flour+ .. Get a pan, med heat, add the butter or oil or bacon grease and then whisk in the flour = roux. You want to cook the roux in the pan for several minutes (2 - 3), just to cook the flour. After that, it's up to you. The longer you cook it, the darker it gets and the more flavor it adds. Don't get stupid and burn it. Burnt roux tastes awful. If you burn it, throw it out and start over... For sauce the ratio is 10 parts liquid to 1 part roux. However don't worry too much about this either.. Make the roux and slowly whisk in the liquid. You want the sauce to be boiling or be close to boiling as you are doing this. If it's not boiling, add some liquid, bring it to a boil, then add more... Here's why: the sauce has to boil to get it to thicken up from the roux. You can't tell how thick it will be until it does. When you see how thick it is, then you can tell if you need to add more liquid. More liquid = thinner sauce... This is why I said the 10 to 1 liquid to roux is not important, you eyeball it as you go... The liquid can be anything, stock, pan drippings, milk, cream, vegetable juice, fruit juice, anything... For Béchamel sauce its milk, so the sauce is white. Butter + Flour = roux, Roux + Milk = Béchamel sauce.. For straight Béchamel sauce just add salt and pepper to taste and you're done. You can put it over fish, steamed vegetables, add it as layer on pizza. One thing that works nice is to put it over something and then stick it under a broiler. The sauce will brown on top. Here's the cool part: you can add anything to it. Want it hot? Add cayenne. Want a little sweet flavor?  Add nutmeg. Biscuit gravy? Add sausage. Want cheese sauce for Mac & Cheese, add cheese. Want to pass out? Make your own pasta, add Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a little truffle oil to your Béchamel sauce. Put the sauce on the pasta along with some sautéed shrimp... doesn't get better than that!  Try this one:

Bacon & Corn & Béchamel

Corn is in season  right now!

4 - 5 ears of corn shucked

Béchamel sauce (2 tbl butter, 2 tbl flour, 40 tbl milk… remember the Ratio 1:1 butter & flour…Then 10:1 milk to Roux… Salt & pepper..

Bacon sliced off the end of the slab.. use your head on the amount ..

Put the corn in boiling water for about 10 minutes.. then take one out and taste it, feel it.. is it done?

Let the corn cool for 5 minutes then with a knife cut the corn away from the cob… stand the corn on end and cut down, close to the cob..

Make the béchamel sauce…and add 1 / 4 cup of fresh parmesan cheese

Fry the bacon, not too crisp…

Add the corn & the bacon to the béchamel sauce… re-season with salt and pepper…

Have a bite, close your eyes and prepare to pass out..



Posted by Mack Oates at 11:52 AM