Thursday, March 8, 2012

You... Have [not] been Chopped!

Hi!  So, as promised, here is Part 1 of 2 on the CaraGusa CHOPPED night.
Background: As avid Chopped watchers, we decided this could totally be adapted to a home-game version.  We'd flip a coin to see who would cook first versus shop first.  If you don't know the gist of Chopped, you can check it out here.

I'll still sum up in a sentence or two.  You get a basket of 4 challenging ingredients and you have to make a course of a meal with them, plus pre-stocked pantry items.  We decided to just stick to the entrée portion for the at home version. 

I went to the grocery store at lunch to get the ingredients.  I knew going in that I wanted jumbo shrimp and golden raisins.  Those two were easy.  I got the shrimp cleaned and deveined (because I'm not mean!) and the raisins were no sweat.  The hard part was produce.  I went in wanting parsnips or as a backup, white asparagus.  A&P had neither!  I saw this large green grapefruit looking thing (called a Pumello) and eventually decided that would totally work and also possessed the 'What the heck is that?!' factor that Chopped is known for.   Last item for the basket came from the junk food aisle: Pork rinds!! Something that neither of us had ever even tried before.
The Chef with his basket
So, after throwing a pan of brownies in the oven (in lieu of $10,000) and setting up the kitchen, T got to work.    He seemed surprised/delighted at the bizarre looking pumello and mind reader that he is, said he thought I'd get shrimp.   The pumello was the 1st thing to get inspected and he quicky made a marinade for the shrimp with it.  Pantry items like: frozen cauliflower, a shallot, a can of white beans  and a flour tortilla were utilized.  I was SURE he was going to crush the pork rinds down and bread the shrimp in them (a classic Chopped move) but no!  They got mixed with the beans and blended into a delicious hummus-like dip. 
Le Basket: Pumello, Pork rinds, 1/2 lb. Jumbo Shrimp & golden raisins

Chef T at work
The raisins got combined with the shallot and cauliflower, oiled and seasoned and thrown in the oven to roast.  Let me tell you- THIS WAS AWESOME. Try it.
By the way- he was cooking for like half an hour before oil came out.  I was sitting there wondering if he was ever going to use any oil! The shrimp got a quick sautee near the end. 

I think the best surprise came in the form of a cocktail!!!  Chef T actually had a Iron Chef worthy moment when he was slamming ice cubes in a ziplock bag with a hammer. (How did I miss that photo op?!)   :)  Anyway, The juice of 1/2 a Pumello + JD Honey Whiskey+ gingerale, shaken with ice.  So, so good.  I was so impressed he made a cocktail.

Pomello juice, Gingerale & JD Honey Whiskey

Probably should be mentioned that we decided to remove some of the pressure and didn’t time things.  It took about an hour all told.  Plating was quick and simple and it was time to eat.  Really, every single thing was delicious.   My beginner-chef fiancee REALLY did himself proud.  This was so much fun and we can't wait to do it again!

Before- and AFTER!

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