On tonight’s premiere episode of the new Chopped Tournament of Stars, four sports stars entered the competition to take on the mystery baskets for an opportunity to earn a spot in the finale. A $50,000 donation to charity and the title of Chopped champion are at stake. Each athlete is familiar to the competition of his or her individual sport, but when it comes to the Chopped kitchen, it’s an entirely different ball game. Only one proved to have what it takes to win, showing a true charge of the kitchen. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the Round 1 winner.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient mussels. One of the best ways to enjoy these iridescent shellfish is in a soup or stew, so the chefs came up with this recipe for a simplified cioppino. Traditionally the classic Italian-American seafood stew is made with a variety of fish and shellfish — and for a fisherman that would typically be whatever was the catch of the day. This version uses just mussels, which are relatively inexpensive and very flavorful all on their own. If you can imagine yourself taking a big hunk of bread and dipping it right into the sweet, spicy, tomato-based stew, then this Mussel Cioppino is meant for you.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient acai juice. The goal of this challenge was to use the juice of the antioxidant-packed South American berry to its full advantage, for its color and distinctive flavor. This recipe for Bratwursts with Sweet-and-Sour Cabbage uses the acai juice as the braising liquid instead of water or broth. By doing so, the juice not only lends a gorgeous purple hue, it also adds sweetness and earthiness that elevates this classic comfort food. Your family will love the eye-catching appeal and flavor of this dish.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient T-bone steaks. The goal of this challenge was to elevate average steaks with as much flavor as possible. Taking a cue from a classic Caesar salad, this recipe for Caesar T-Bone Steak with Stout Pan Sauce uses garlic and anchovies as a rub to bring umami flavor to the steaks. In addition, roasted fingerling potatoes and stout beer sauce round out the dish to make a complete meal that’s packed with punch. Serve these steaks for a special weekend dinner with friends and family.
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient beef tip cap. The goal of this challenge was to cook something other than the typical roast, so the idea became an Asian-inspired soup. Traditionally hot pots of simmering broth are set at the center of a table, with each person dipping raw ingredients, like thinly sliced meats and fresh vegetables, into it for quick cooking. It’s the type of comfort food that’s meant to bring family and friends together over a shared meal. This Top Sirloin Hot Pot recipe is an easy at-home version that your family will love. It takes a total of 25 minutes to make, which is just what you want when you need fast comfort from the cold outside.
When it comes to chocolate, most people think it’s meant for only dessert. But for chefs, especially Chopped-caliber chefs, it’s just another ingredient to transform. If they get chocolate in an entree basket — and in the case of the Chocolate Competition episode, they got chocolate items in every single basket — the chefs take on the challenge of creating savory dishes in stride. And the Chopped judges are no different.
In an episode of Chopped After Hours, Maneet, Marc and Aarón entered the Chopped kitchen to cook with the entree basket ingredients: chocolate cake pops, white chocolate cocoa mix, quail and serrano chiles. On the show, the three chef-competitors all seemed to have the most trouble with incorporating the chocolate cake pops, mainly because of their cakey centers. But not so for the judges, who used the pops in a marinade, mole sauce and stuffing — all their dishes proved to be enhanced by the chocolate treat. In the end Ted was amazed by all of their dishes: “I never would have thought cake pops and quail would have been so tasty.”
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient grapefruit. The goal of this challenge was to use the sweet-sour taste of the citrus fruit to its full advantage by pairing it with hearty salmon. Not only is grapefruit in season during winter, but it’s a great way to enjoy a bit of brightness during the dreary season — and it’s packed with vitamin C to fight off colds and flus. This Grapefruit-Honey Salmon is easy to put together, with only seven ingredients, and takes just 25 minutes in total. It’s a recipe your family is sure to appreciate for its sweetness and savoriness.
For most competitors, the idea of putting any four basket ingredients onto a single plate is daunting enough — let alone combining them in one pan for one sauce. But that’s exactly what Scott Conant did tonight on an all-new installment of Chopped After Hours. Joined by guest host Alex Guarnaschelli, Scott, Amanda Freitag and Geoffrey Zakarian took over the Chopped Kitchen for a battle with the same entree-round ingredients that four amateur cooks had just worked with on the show. They had only 30 minutes to make a dinner dish out of tikka masala sauce, hanger steak, Asian long beans and croquettes, and in true Italian form, Scott embraced pasta.
He combined these disparate products — some fresh, others prepared and bottled — into a one-pot Bolognese-inspired sauce. While these ingredients may have lent themselves to this type of preparation better than most others, Alex couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the flavors didn’t meld well when combined. “Seems like you’re putting the whole basket into one thing,” Alex told him. “What if it doesn’t work out?” He answered simply with a smile: “You punt. At that point, I’m just going to eat Geoffrey’s sandwich.”
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.
The Chopped Dinner Challenge is a series of recipes showing you how easy it is to cook like a winning Chopped competitor. Every week, FN Dish will showcase a recipe created by Food Network Kitchen that uses at least one of the Chopped basket ingredients, plus basic grocery goods and simple staples. Consider it your very own Chopped challenge. Just take this frequent tip from the judges: Don’t forget to season!
For this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient pancetta, an unsmoked Italian bacon. Pancetta is popularly used to add flavor in many Italian recipes for sauces, but in this twice-baked potato recipe it becomes a star ingredient in the filling and the topping. And along with eggs and cheese this dish has the same comfort as a bowl of pasta carbonara. These Carbonara Stuffed Potatoes with Crispy Pancetta make a great meal on a day when you’re looking for a comforting dish, but what they’re really meant for is enjoying with family on Super Bowl Sunday while watching the game.