Since subscribing to Discovery+, we’ve found quite a few shows that are pretty fantastic to just have as background noise in the house. There are oodles of seasons, and they’re fun to watch, even a few minutes at a time. Recently, our background show of choice has been Chopped. Personally, I’m not much for cooking, but I love tumbling ideas around of what could be made out of the mystery ingredients.
However, we have a friend who loves to cook, feed people, and play with new ingredients and flavor combinations. When he told me he would love to try making a meal Chopped-style, an idea was born, and I’ve spent more time than I care to admit brainstorming some fun “baskets”. This past Saturday, we finally got together and had a three-course Chopped-style meal together.
We worked out all the details and some rule revisions ahead of time. We decided to set “goal” times rather than firm times, and made those goal times a little longer than what the show allows for. We also tacked on a few extra minutes at the beginning for tasting and planning, and allowed for a couple of questions regarding the ingredients to be answered by anyone not cooking. Obviously, none of us are professional chefs, so Google was our friend in a couple instances.
Since a home kitchen isn’t going to have all the ingredients (or gadgets) you see in a cooking show’s pantry, I tried to make sure that a fairly complete dish could be made from each dish with just adding some basic staples & spices.
For me personally, there were two ingredients in the very first basket I’ve never eaten! I’m not a very adventurous eater, and I’m probably a less adventurous cook. But the dish we got was super tasty. The pork rinds got crushed up and dusted over the duck wing, the candy was turned into a sauce with black pepper and garlic that went on both the duck wing and over the lotus root. The lotus root was pan fried in chili oil and was a great vehicle for all those lovely flavors.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done with this collection of ingredients, but I never would have come up with this dish, and it was so damn good. He took the meat out of the patties and tossed the breading, and cooked that up with onions, lion’s mane mushrooms and some of the hominy. The chocolate, cactus pear juice, and more of the hominy went into an absolutely delicious sauce, and he served the whole thing in a big bowl over some white rice.
In the dessert round, there was another stroke of genius I hadn’t anticipated. He crumbled up the toaster pastries, mixed them with some butter, and put the whole thing in the over to bake like a cookie. Over there was a layer of apple butter and the melted cheese, The prosciutto was fried up in a pan, and the mangos were cooked in sugar and a little water, and then put on the top. Everything worked together, and not only did we all clean our plates, but we also kept going back for bits of that toaster pastry cookies until it was all gone.
Overall, we all felt like the night was a huge success. My friend rated the difficulty of the ingredients provided as being “just right” – challenging without feeling overwhelming, and everyone walked away happy and with full bellies. We’re considering doing this as a monthly event going forward.
Bonus Blaugust prompt idea: Do you have any regular bit of nerdery you get together with friends to do? Alternatively, if you were to take any game show or competition show and turn it into a real life event, what would you choose and why?