Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chopped, Part I

Chopped as a birthday party?  Yep, that's how my niece wanted to celebrate her 10th.    Since the birthday occurred on a late summer-at-the-beach weekend, the entire family was drafted to participate.  I was nominated as the Captain of Team 1, and was assigned 3 kids of varying ages as my sous chefs.

The procedure followed that of the show; 4 mystery ingredients were given to each team, we had 25 minutes to create an appetizer using all 4, and we had access to any of the pantry items made available to us but nothing more.

And if you are wondering if I was nervous about 16 people speeding around a kitchen, many of whom had limited experience with cooking, let alone hot stoves and sharp knives, the answer is yes.  Fortunately, the kitchen is large and there are minimal casualties to report.

The first round presented us with the following ingredients:

Spicy Chicken Sausage; Prunes; Chick Peas and Cola Champagne.  The last was a cloyingly sweet, fruity soft drink which was, to say the least, a challenge to use.

My team set right to work:  X sliced the sausages thinly and seared them in a skillet.  C cut the prunes into chunks.  K took the chick peas and made them into a salad with feta, prunes, onions, cilantro, and watermelon.  I chopped onions, dumped them into a saucepan with some prunes, poured in the revolting cola, a generous amount of red wine, and balsamic vinegar and made a reduction sauce.  When the sauce reduced, I strained it into the sausage skillet and further reduced it to meld the flavors.  Then we arranged the chick pea salad in a mound in the middle of a plate,  layered the sausages around the exterior, drizzled the sauce, and for added panache, made crostini cut into the number "10" as a nod to the birthday girl.

The other Teams' entries were:

Grilled sausages with a hummus of chick peas, goat cheese, prunes, and cola.

Chilled fruit soup made with the cola, accompanied by chick pea and prune spread and a grilled sausage.

Gnocchi with sausage, cola infused tomato sauce with chick peas, and prunes.

Guess who got "Chopped"?

Fruit Soup, of course.

What would you have made?

Next post:  The main course.

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