The Challenge of Prepared Products — Chopped After Hours by Maria Russo in Shows, June 16th, 2013
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In the last After Hours episode, Chopped judges tried their hands at ingredients that collectively proved to be some of the most common ever featured on the show, and their experience with them was a challenge in and of itself. Similarly, on tonight’s all-new battle, judges Alex Guarnaschelli, Aarón Sánchez and Marcus Samuelsson faced a basket with one particularly demanding ingredient: lobster bisque. In the same way that the last group of judges had to transform the familiar, Alex, Aarón and Marcus had to redefine something that was already a finished dish.
“I think that’s the hardest [ingredient] right there,” guest judge Amanda Freitag said of the bisque, “’cause someone made it already. And maybe they made it too creamy, too thick.” Her peers understood what she meant by that, and they each went to great lengths to transform the bisque into something else, instead of simply warming it and serving it as-is. Aarón and Alex treated the bisque as the base of their sauces, guajillo and marinara, respectively, while Marcus used the bisque as the building block of another bisque. He added yogurt and white wine to the basket ingredient in an effort to increase its “sourness,” and cooked it with squid, potatoes and daikon radish. What resulted was a “completely complex” offering, according to Aarón .
When cooking with prepared products at home, do you prefer to leave them as they are, or do you dress them up with complementary ingredients? What did you think of the judges’ use of the bisque, and who do you think featured it best in his or her dish? Click the play button on the video above to watch what Alex, Aarón and Marcus did, then share your reactions and chat with fellow fans in the comments section below. Plus, browse insider photos from the set to get a behind-the-scenes look at what went down in the kitchen.