Our own version of “Chopped”
For the last few weeks instead of having a class on Tuesday’s we have been doing a cooking demo. It has been a lot of fun. Not only does it allow us to use up extra product and keep it from going bad but it has also allowed me to do some cooking. So the premise behind these demos is to take things out of the fridge and trying to make dishes out of them. I have really enjoyed this process because it has made me really do some creative cooking!
So this last demo we did had a little twist to it. Myself and my assistant, Wai-Man, had a cook off with a tray of ingredients that was wrapped in foil, so we had no idea what was on it. It was in essence our own version of “Chopped” without the prize money!
Now to what was on the tray, because i’m sure your wanting to know what we had to work with. When we unwrapped the tray there was a chicken breast, a shot of bourbon, a Fresno chilli, a 1/4 head of red cabbage, a couple of slice of bacon, 2 red potatoes, and a granny smith apple, and the real brain teaser was 2 amareti cookies. So many good ingredients, and so many possibilities. The only thing that threw a wrench into all plans was the cookies. They are delicious on their own, sweet and crispy, but a tough thing to work into a savory dish.
Now we were just planning on having a nice friendly cook off, however the people that were there watching us cook decided that it was necessary for us to have a time limit. So we set the time limit at 25 mins, enough time to get everything cooked but also keep a little pressure on us.
Now to explain our dishes.
Wai-Man took his potatoes and put them in a pot with water to boil them. While they were cooking he took a little onion, the pepper, bacon and apple into a pan and started cooking it. He also shredded the cabbage up. Once it was all cooked he made that into a nice little potato salad. Meanwhile he took his chicken breast and pounded it out. He did a simple breading of panko and the crumbled up cookie for it and then coated it in egg and the breading and pan fried it. We had a little extra sauce we used on a pizza of some Gochujang paste, rice vinegar, distilled red vinegar and a few other ingredients and mixed that with a little hoisin and honey. He cut up his chicken, laid it over his salad and then drizzled the sauce over the top. Oh I almost forgot right before he sauced his chicken he poured in the bourbon into it and light it up, essentially pouring a flaming sauce over it. Really nice presentation.
Now for my dish. I decided to take a play on something I was slightly more familiar with. I took the potatoes and diced them up nice and small and tossed them in a pot of boiling water to cook them nice and quick. While they were cooking I diced up my apple along with an onion and garlic. Once the potatoes were done I tossed the onion and garlic into a hot pan and cooked them down. Once they were nice and soft I tossed in the bacon which I diced up. When the bacon had cooked down I put in some thinly slice pepper along with my potatoes and the cabbage which I had shredded up. Now I wasn’t sure how I was going to use the cookies but when I tasted my “hash” I realized that the peppers were a little hotter than I had expected. Knowing that the cookies were nice and sweet I decided that I would crush them up and add them in to balance out the heat. Now for the chicken, it was a nice thick breast so I butterflied it out so I could make sure it was cooked. I put it in a nice hot pan and gave the first side a nice sear. When I flipped the chicken I tossed in a little diced up shallot and garlic. I let that cook for a few mins and then hit the pan with the bourbon and lit it up. I then added some heavy cream and let it reduce down to a nice thick sauce. When I plated it up I put down a nice little mound of the hash and laid the chicken over the top and then topped it off with the sauce.
This was by far one of the most fun demo classes we have done. Not only was the cook off a lot of fun but the people that were there made it great fun and we made a lot of other really delicious dishes. I hope that we get to do another cook off so that Wai-Man and myself can continue to stretch our cooking abilities.