Holy Mackerel, Marie

By Grace Parisi Posted February 07, 2007

Not every recipe that comes into the Test Kitchen ends up on our pages. Some need minor tweaks while others need major overhauls, and some, well, some are just beyond help. I've been keeping a running tab of the worst. An especially bad recipe gets photographed, titled and archived in our Library of Congress (ok, a yellow folder I keep in my desk). And all are met with more than a hint of snide glee...”Can you BELIEVE this?” This one, from my early years at F&W, remains my personal all-time favorite in the category of Worst Recipes.

A classic, rather housewife-y Italian dish, it consisted of a hacked mackerel baked on a bed of sliced tomatoes and potatoes. It sounds about as appealing as it looked. Honestly, I think my initial disgust squashed most of my objectivity so I may not have given it my best cooking effort, though I did try my best under the circumstances. I prefer my mackerel in small dainty pieces atop a ball of rice or in a hunk on the end of a hook when I’m surf-casting for stripers or blues. This dish was alarmingly bait-like, and smelled a bit like the tackle box. No amount of browned, crispy potatoes and juicy tomatoes could convince me. But while some editors here kind of liked it, the recipe never got published. And then came the peanut butter and jelly bread pudding: I'll write about that another time.

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