Gerrit and I are kind of obsessed with Chopped. I have our DVR set up to record every new episode, and when we watch it we often pause the TV before the chefs start to cook so that we can say what we would do with the mystery ingredients. For those of you unfamiliar, that’s pretty much the whole fun of the show: mystery ingredients. Four random things the chefs have to use, from bizarre fruits to processed snacks to meats like rattlesnake and ostrich.
And since we love this show so much, we thought, why not recreate it at home? Minus the timed rounds, of course. Just a set of mystery ingredients, a meal to make, and fun to be had.
We both got pretty into it. Gerrit was so excited about picking out the things I was going to cook with (knowing he couldn’t get too bizarre because he was going to have to eat it for dinner), and he put it all in a box on the kitchen island and told me when I could look inside like he was Ted Allen.
And I have to tell you. This was the most fun I’ve had in the kitchen in a while. It was fun to face the challenge and let myself be creative without worrying about making sure I had a recipe right. It was a blast seeing if I could take four seemingly unconnected things and make a meal out of it. And guess what. I can.
So, a breakdown for you:
What Gerrit bought:
What I made:
Strip Steaks: I will freely admit that had I been on an actual competition I would have treated this steaks a bit differently. But knowing that we were going to eat these for dinner, and knowing that they were kind of expensive, I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my chances of enjoying said steak. So I just salt and peppered these and cooked them in a pan with some olive oil and butter.
Baby Food: I used a bit of wine along with the baby food to make a pan sauce that we could (optionally…again, I am very protective about my steak) spoon over the meat. It actually turned out pretty good.
Artichokes: This was a new one for me. I had never cleaned or cooked a fresh artichoke before, but I knew I had to get the choke out. I pulled out my How to Cook Everything book to make sure I was cleaning it right (still not quite sure I got there) and then I tried to fry some wedges of artichokes in some oil infused with herbs and garlic. This was good in theory, but some of the outer leaves were too tough and I need to clean them a bit more thoroughly next time I work with them. Lesson learned.
Chex Cereal: I crumbled this up, mixed with it some chopped fresh herbs and olive oil, stuck it in the oven, and used it as a crunchy topping on the artichokes.
So, I guess the question remains…what would you do with these ingredients?