Mack's Corner

This Week

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

I've got 2 new favorite cooking web sites www. and

From cooking.nytimes

Craig Claiborne’s Smothered Chicken

Craig Claiborne was a born and raised in Mississippi and started as food editor of The New York Times in 1957. The dish “belongs in the ‘comfort’ category,” he wrote in 1983, “a food that gives solace to the spirit when you dine on it.” This is very simple and very elegant. You can add spices or vegetables or mushrooms, but you need to taste it the original way first..


1  Whole chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, spatchcocked (split down the backbone, breast left intact and unsplit)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

2  tablespoons unsalted butter

2  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ½  cups chicken broth, ideally homemade


1. Craig Claiborne believed a cast-iron skillet to be essential for the authentic preparation of this dish. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Select a skillet large enough to hold the chicken comfortably when it is opened up, as for broiling. Fold wings under to secure them. 2.Melt the butter in the pan and add the chicken, skin side down. Cover chicken with a plate that will fit comfortably inside the skillet. Place a heavy can, stone or brick on top of the plate to weigh it down. Cook over low heat, checking the chicken skin, until it is nicely browned, about 25 minutes.

3.Remove weight and plate. Turn chicken so skin side is up. Replace plate and weight and continue cooking for about 15 minutes more. 4.Remove chicken and pour off fat from the skillet, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Add the flour to the fat, stirring with a wire whisk over medium heat. (((This makes a Roux))) Gradually add the chicken broth and, when thickened, return chicken to the skillet, skin side up. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with the plate and weight and continue cooking over low heat about 20 to 30 minutes longer or until the meat is exceptionally tender. Spoon the sauce over it. 5.Cut chicken into serving pieces, and serve with the sauce and fluffy rice on the side.

--From cooking.nytimes

Pasta With Fried Lemons and Chile Flakes


4  lemons

1  pound linguine or spaghetti

4  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling

1  teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed

Pinch of sugar

3  tablespoons unsalted butter

¾  teaspoon chile flakes, more to taste

⅔  cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more to taste

Black pepper, as needed

½  cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)

⅓  cup parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)

Flaky sea salt, for garnish


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside. Trim the tops and bottoms off the other 2 lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters; remove seeds. Thinly slice the quarters crosswise into triangles. Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel. Blot dry.

2. In the boiling water, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat. Add the dried lemon pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar. Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

4. Melt the butter with the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the chile flakes and zest of both lemons; cook until fragrant. Whisk in the reserved pasta water.

5. Toss in pasta, juice of 1 lemon, cheese, pepper and the remaining salt. Cook until pasta is well coated with sauce. Toss in the caramelized lemon and the celery leaves and parsley if using. Taste and add lemon juice if needed. Serve, topped with a drizzle of oil, more cheese if you like, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

--From Food52

Baked Figs With Balsamic and Feta

Author Notes: This recipe is a vehicle for smushed or overripe figs. It's great on grilled bread, on pasta, or tossed with some crispy greens for a salad. Alternatively, you can use creamy fresh goat cheese and skip the garlic and overnight soaking. 

Serves 1 to 2


1/2 cup creamy feta (about 2 ounces) or goat cheese

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (for soaking the feta only)

1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced (for soaking the feta only)

12 very ripe figs (any kind you can find)

1 tablespoon garlic oil (scooped from feta oil) or olive oil if you skip that part.

2 teaspoons aged balsamic or homemade balsamic reduction (((make balsamic reduction by boiling down inexpensive balsamic vinegar (usually, a 17-ounce bottle yields about 3/4 cup)))

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 sprigs fresh thyme


1. If using Feta (Crumble feta into a jar or bowl. Top with olive oil and garlic. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours, preferably overnight.)

2. Heat oven to 400° F.

3. Stem and halve figs. Scoop a tablespoon of olive oil out of the feta mixture and sprinkle it over the figs(or just plain olive oil if not using feta). Coat each fig with a bit of balsamic. Sprinkle with salt. Tuck in the chunks of feta/goat cheese in to the figs. Toss on the thyme sprigs, and put them in the oven.

4. Check them after 15 minutes. The figs cook fast. Don't let them completely fall apart. When they're quite jammy and releasing their juices, remove from the oven and turn on your broiler. Broil for a minute or two until the figs and feta are just starting to brown. Remove from the oven. Cool for a few minutes. Pick out thyme sprigs and use your fingers to sprinkle the crispy leaves down over the figs. Discard sprigs. Garnish with mint or parsley leaves. Serve.


Scary Cleaning

One of my favorite TV shows is Kitchen Nightmares BBC, (I hate the American version too much fake drama).
Gordon Ramsay, one of the 10 best chefs in the world, goes around to different restaurants trying to turn them around and keep them from going under. One episode was a place on the east coast of England called Seascapes. The chef and been cooking for 38 years but instead of getting better he was defensive, complacent, and skeptical. The 2nd day Gordon showed up at 8am just to look through the kitchen while nobody was there. It was nasty, big globs of grease under the stove and in the hood. The walls were so dirty the he could scrape layers of "red stuff" off. He found several things growing in the walk-in cooler, things that they had served for dinner the night before. He almost got sick on TV. When he asked the chef about it, his attitude was "why clean, it will only be dirty again tomorrow." .. "We'll do it some day" .. "Nobody else cares, why should I?" .. "I've been doing it that way for years and nobody ever complained" .. "you don't know what it's like working here, I can't change this!" .. "We've always done it that way!" .. The strange thing was that this guy even knew Ramsay was coming and he still didn't clean up. I remember one year my Dad bought my mom a house cleaning service for her birthday. She almost had a heart attack when he told her. She spent 2 days cleaning the house before they came. They were coming to clean, but to my mom they were coming to inspect. Gordon finally had to tell the owner to fire the chef. He was so defensive, so complacent, and so skeptical that he would never change. As soon as the show was over, I went and cleaned the whole kitchen, cleaned the stove, the ovens, the hood, threw out everything in the freezer that I couldn't identify, washed all the dishes, mopped the floor, wiped off the cabinets, took out the trash. I didn't want anything about me to be anything like that guy. It took me 2 hours, I couldn't scrub hard enough.

God's like that: Things go bad, things don't change, things keep happening and we get defensive, complacent, and skeptical. But to God, every day is a new day, every minute is another decision leading to a new adventure. Do something new today, look for God to show up. Here's a prayer to pray everyday: "God use me today!" And then see what he does. Watch for him. If someone wants you to do something new, go do it, see if God shows up. Look for God in everything you do. I promise he's there.

I wonder if there's such a thing as a concrete kitchen? .. Maybe put a garage door on one end.  Then I could power-wash the whole thing every day.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM