When Chopped competitors are presented with a mystery basket that contains a very specific ingredient, for example, pizza dough, what you’ll oftentimes get is four different iterations of the same dish. But not so with the Chopped judges — their creativity takes pizza dough to new heights. Facing the same entree basket as the contestants from Chopped: Pizza Perfect, judges Amanda, Geoffrey and Alex took up spots in the Chopped Kitchen for an After Hours competition where they cooked with deep-dish pizza dough, rabbit escabeche, Swiss chard and pineapple cheese spread.
On the show, none of the three competitors in the entree round thought outside of the box — or the pizza pan, in this instance. The chef who was ultimately chopped went home for a pizza that had everything wrong with the dough. Amanda, Geoffrey and Alex immediately looked at the challenge as an opportunity to show these chefs the possibilities with pizza dough. Although one of them did make a pizza, it was cooked in an unconventional way.
Alex was the only judge to create a pizza, but instead of baking it, she cooked her dough in a skillet, which created a puffy pizza that Aarón likened to Indian naan. Even though her first pizza burned, Alex was able to make a second one with just minutes to spare. Amanda praised Alex’s pizza for its “spice, creaminess [and] smokiness.” Geoffrey took his dough in an entirely different direction, making it into a flatbread topping for pot pies. Alex loved the “unexpected flavors” from the dill, tarragon and mustard in the stew. At first Amanda didn’t know what to create, but she settled on stuffed pizzas, using the dough to create sandwich rounds that she fried and baked and filled with asparagus, rabbit and pancetta, plated over a pineapple schmear. Geoffrey called it “his favorite use of the pineapple all day,” and Aarón said “one of the big successes in this is the idea of the pancetta seasoning the rabbit.” In the end Aarón thought they all did so well that they should “open a pizza joint together,” but Geoffrey and Alex immediately wanted out of the idea.
Click the play button on the video above to watch the entire After Hours episode and to see the dishes Amanda, Geoffrey and Alex created. Then browse behind-the-scenes images for an insider’s look at the cooking.
Start a conversation with fellow fans and tell FN Dish in the comments below how you would have approached this basket: What would you make out of deep-dish pizza dough, rabbit escabeche, Swiss chard and pineapple cheese spread?
Catch up on past Chopped After Hours episodes by watching all the Web-exclusive battles online.