It’s my turn to take a stab at the famed Chopped basket. I’m sure I’d come up with something different from these options if asked today, tomorrow or the day after. It’s the beast that is Chopped!
Appetizer basket: Fruitcake, shad roe sack, vodka and Tokyo scallions
I’ve only cooked shad roe sack once and it reminded me of how you cook a good piece of liver — hot and fast. I’d build a brown butter sauce with capers and lemon, then in another pan quickly fry the shad roe sack with just a sprinkle of salt and pepper, maybe a dusting of flour, then I’d rest them in the brown butter sauce while I finished the rest of the dish. With the vodka and the scallions, I’d add some minced shallots and garlic, and I’d simmer them all in a pot with apple cider vinegar and maybe a bit of honey or sugar. Then I’d toast a slice of fruit cake and cut out cubes and make tiny croutons in butter. I’d put the quick vodka-pickled scallions on a plate alongside the shad roe sack in butter sauce and either make a quick bitter green salad for the croutons or just sprinkle them on the plate and hope I don’t get sent home because I didn’t want to incorporate the fruitcake into the dish completely, (ick). Hopefully the quick-pickled scallions would cut the brown butter sauce and I would get points for that — Seared Shad Roe Sack in a Brown Butter Sauce With Quick Vodka-Pickled Tokyo Scallions With Fruitcake Croutons.
Entree basket: squab, peanut butter and jelly, karela and red quinoa
I love PB&J wings and developed a recipe for my cookbook. I’d take that squab, break it down, dredge it and fry it. Then give it the biz with a toss in my PB&J wing sauce. I’d then work on the karela and try to make a pot of greens with it; sure, it’s a melon, but the green color and the chicken make me feel like it should get treated like greens. So in a pot I’d add some bacon, onion, red pepper flakes, garlic and all of the karela thinly sliced. I’d get everything tender, then add stock and let it cook the whole time, maybe add a splash of apple cider vinegar, too. With the quinoa I’d make a quick béchamel and toss them in it for a kind of mac and cheese. If I had time, I’d put the quinoa and cheese in a ramekin in the oven to set up, more than likely with something to give it texture, scallions, peas — something. Fried PB&J Squab, Braised Karela and Cheesy Quinoa.
Dessert basket: mitmita, Sauternes, cottage cheese and cream-filled snack cakes
No way. I can’t even imagine this! I have never heard of Mitmita, so it’s hard to guess what I’d make without tasting it. I know for sure I’d hollow out the snack cakes and refill them with surprises. Maybe toast the cake and then soak it with some rum and layer it up like a tiramisu. But the Mitmita is something I’ve never tasted. I love Chopped baskets for that one reason, fear of the unknown.