Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 08-18-15

True expectations

A few years ago when they were still open in Saddle Creek Frank Stitt was at Williams-Sonoma selling his then new cookbook and doing a cooking demonstration. If you don't know Frank Stitt, he's one of the great chefs of the south. His restaurant is The Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham. I owned his first cookbook and was going to buy the second when I saw that he was going to be in town. I thought I would wait and buy it then, maybe get him to sign it. They said he would be there from 1 to 3pm. I got there at 1pm. They were selling books, so I bought one. He came out and started cooking and talking. Seemed like a real nice guy. I thought I would wait and see what he was going to cook. Turned out to be nothing very interesting, pasta on a baking sheet with eggs and cream poured over it and a little parmesan cheese. Nice for late Saturday night dinner for two, from him it was just ok. After all he's one of the big dogs! I stayed anyway. He talked and answered questions and after a while I left. I'm not sure what I expected. I knew he couldn't cook anything great in a store. I knew there would be 50 - 60 people there asking dumb questions. And even if I had been able to talk to him, what would I have said? What's your favorite thing to cook? What's your favorite knife?  ... What I really wanted to happen was for him to see me and say "Hey there's Mack!!! .. Close the store and get all these people out of here. Mack, lets cook a 6 course dinner and invite all of your friends. We'll cook all afternoon.. "
Then let him explain why he does things the way he does, tell me stories about how he learned to cook and why he still makes grits like his mother did. Stuff like that.. That wasn't going to happen. False expectations = disappointing results.  I've got the cookbook, at least I've got that going for me..

God's like that: He's willing to close the store and spend the day with us. But that requires some commitment from us. We want him to solve all of our problems, just don't ask me to do anything hard. We want him to heal a relationship, but do it on your own time, not mine. We want him to give us faith, but don't ask me to sacrifice anything. True expectations.

I wonder if Frank would let me come work in his kitchen? Make stock every morning, sweep floors, chop onions. I could learn a lot...


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

Frank Stitt's Creamy Grits

4 cups water, preferably spring water
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup yellow stone-ground grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, or a little more if desired, at room temperature
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese, plus more if desired
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then whisk in the grits in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to prevent clumps and thoroughly mix in the grits. Bring to a boil whisking, then turn the heat down to low and summer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until the grits are thickened and tender.

Add the butter and Parmigiano, stirring to combine, and add the salt, white pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Taste and add more butter, cheese, and/or salt if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.


Posted by Mack Oates at 10:08 AM