Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 11-25-14

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

One of my good friends invited PK and Macky and me to dinner for Thanksgiving. Her 2 daughters will be home from college so it  will be great fun. I tol her to get a beef tenderloin and put it in the Sous Vide at 128 and I would do everything else, even bring my blowtorch to finish the beef. (searing at 5000 degrees browns it but doesn't cook it or raise the temp of the meat which will be perfect at 128 degrees). So I thought I would make Pommes Anna. It's really easy, you can do it at the last minute, it tastes great, and it really looks cool. 

My favorite cookbook of all times is "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller. I didn't say it was the easiest, just my favorite. There are others like New Texas Cuisine by Stephan Pyles (which you can buy for $.01 on Amazon) and Louisiana Kitchen by Paul Prudhomme (Amazon $3.99) that I use a lot. But the book I learn from is FL Cookbook. There are a bunch of things in there that I can't do, either because things I can't get, tools I don't have, or it's just too hard and requires more skill than I've got. BUT!!!! Some things are easy. Here's one of them, Pommes Anna. Here's the cool thing: YOU CAN PUT ANYTHING IN THE LAYERS!! It doesn't have to be prunes. For this thanksgiving dinner I'm going to saute some onions and use onions an sour cream instead…

Pommes Anna:

10 pitted prunes

1 cup chicken stock/broth

1 tbsp minced shallots

Salt (gray salt is better)

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes peeled

6 tbsp melted butter

Salt & pepper

 Don't leave because of the prunes. You've got to trust me on this… (or use something else Like onions and sour cream or bacon.. etc) 

Place prunes and chicken stock in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. 
Cook for 20 min or until liquid has evaporated. Put prunes on a cutting board, chop, add shallots and Gray salt to taste …

 Pre-hear the oven to 450

 Peel the potatoes and using a mandolin slice very thin rounds. Place the potatoes in a big bowl of lightly salted water. This keeps them from turning brown.

 Put 2 tbsp of butter in the bottom of an 8 - 10 inch nonstick skillet, slopping sides is very helpful. (You can do this in an iron skillet, but the straight up sides makes it a little harder. Just be sure to push the potatoes in from the sides as you cook them so that you have room.)

 Take a handful of potatoes out of the water and dry them on a towel.

Starting from the outside make a ring of potatoes around the pan, overlapping. Then move in and make another ring inside the first, then another inside that, overlapping until you cover the bottom of the pan.

Add a little salt and pepper on top and do another layer of potatoes. The more layers, the better.

After the second layer spread half of the Prune mixture(or onions and sour cream) on top of the potatoes, leaving at least a 1 inch border all around.

 Make 2 more layers, Salt  & pepper after the first, taking the potatoes out of the water and drying them as you need more…

 Add the 2nd half of the prunes(or onions and sour cream), again leaving at least a 1 in border around the edge. Then add 2 more layers of potatoes (do 3 if you have a bunch of potatoes left), again salt & pepper after the first.

Pour the remaining butter over the top and place the skillet over medium heat. Here's the 1st tricky part: DON'T LET THE POTATOES STICK TO THE PAN! … After the butter starts to bubble, cook the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes, shaking the pan to see if the potatoes move and slide around. Use a big wooden spoon to push the potatoes around the side to keep them moving and to keep them from sliding apart(especially if your pan does not slope on the sides). The potatoes will start to brown on the bottom.

Give the potatoes one more shake to be sure they are sliding around in the pan and put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are well browned and crisp on top.

Take the potatoes out of the oven and see if you can still slide them in the pan, use the big spoon to get it lose if you need to. Let them sit for a few minutes. Here's the 2nd tricky part: On a large cutting board or a baking sheet, something that won't break and big enough to hold the whole potato cake. Either place the cutting board on top of the pan and flip it over or, do what I do, flip the pan and slam it on the cutting board in one move. You will have the most beautiful potato cake with brown simi-circles of potatoes. Cut it in pie wedges to serve. This is a Thomas Keller recipe which means you can do it several hours before you serve it. Just put the baking sheet back in the 450 degree oven till it bubbles again. When you cut it, use a very sharp knife, it tends to come apart. This is very delicate.

Here's the best part, this works with anything you like with potatoes. So instead of prunes, how about sour cream and chives, or onions, or bacon, or just a little cream. Or if you like ketchup on hash browns, how about a little ketchup and sautéed onions. Or Cheddar cheese between the potato layers. If you don't want to use butter, use olive oil. This is also great for breakfast the next morning. 

Now that you have cooked a Thomas Keller recipe, you are a Master Chef.


Screw Drivers

I bought a new screw driver set last week. I seem to never have enough. People use them and never give them back or leave them in the place they are "most needed", which means I can't find them. This was a deal at Home Depot. 27 screw drivers and a case for $10.99.

They come sealed in plastic. It's one of those things where it looks like they placed each screw driver on a table to display the whole set and then melted 2 big sheets of plastic on both sides. For 27 screw drivers, this thing is 3 feet long and 2 feet tall and it has that thick plastic so you can't just punch one out. I got in my truck and wanted to put the screw drivers in the case and then in my tool box before I left. I got out my super sharp knife and started cutting around the edges like you would open a clam.. Honked my horn once by accident. Didn't work, the plastic was still together. So I started cutting the outside ¼ inch of the plastic off. Every time I turned it to get a better angle I honked the horn.  By the time I was half way around, it had turned in to a life or death struggle. There was no way I was going back in the store and saying "Sorry, I know these were on sale but I can't get the package open" and then have some old guy open it for me and look at me like maybe he needed to walk me home. By now there were several people standing around my truck watching and wanting to help but afraid to, for fear I was having some sort of attack, after all I did have a knife. Every time I honked the horn, they all jumped back. When I looked up, it was like "The night of the living dead", faces all around me. I decided it was time to leave.

 God's like that: Some times he gives us a gift that seems more like punishment. People are talking about you and wanting to help, but not sure what to do. You don't know what to do either. God doesn't play games, he's not pushing your buttons just to see what you'll do. He's always got a plan, always got a purpose, always got something to teach. He doesn't make things hard just to make you mad. Pay attention. If life is hard, God is yelling at you, trying to get you to look his way.

 Maybe I need to buy a $200 band saw so I can open my $10.99 screw driver set. You know I'll have to buy another one, there are 5 screw drivers missing already.


Posted by Mack Oates at 12:00 AM