Watch any episode of Chopped and you’re bound to find one competitor who’s blender-happy — he or she will puree anything, oftentimes most of the basket ingredients, into a dish. Although that isn’t always the best method for impressing the judges, sometimes it works, as in the case of the recipe in this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge. The chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose frozen french fries as the basket ingredient, and they wanted to transform them without the typical frying, so this French Fry and Scallion Soup was born. It’s a comforting potato soup in half the time, because you’ve just skipped the peeling and cubing.
For the first time on Chopped, professionals and amateur cooks will go head-to-head at the end of the five-part Ultimate Champions tournament. But they’ve all competed on Chopped before: They’ve tasted what it feels like to win, and they’re hungry for more. On tonight’s second round, four amateur home cooks battled to determine which one would move on to the grand finale, where there’s a chance to win the largest prize in the show’s history: $50,000, with a brand-new car to top it all off. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winner from Part 2.
Nuts rarely make it out of dessert territory, but when you think about the great texture they offer, then you might realize how well they can work in savory preparations, like this recipe in this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge. Hazelnuts are getting their due, chosen by the chefs of Food Network Kitchen as the basket ingredient for this week. Besides the texture, hazelnuts have a sweeter flavor — unlike, say, walnuts or almonds. We’re not saying this recipe will take the place of your favorite jar of hazelnut-chocolate spread, but it might be a dinner contender. The pulverized hazelnuts in this Hazelnut Chicken recipe along with extra-crispy panko breadcrumbs will become your new favorite breading for fried chicken.
For the first time on Chopped, professionals and amateur cooks will go head-to-head at the end of the five-part Ultimate Champions tournament. But they’ve all competed on Chopped before: They’ve tasted what it feels like to win, and they’re hungry for more. On tonight’s first round, four professional chefs battled to determine which one would move on to the grand finale, where there’s a chance to win the largest prize in the show’s history, $50,000, with a brand-new car to top it all off. FN Dish has the exclusive interview with the winner from Part 1.
When faced with an ingredient like eel, most chefs would run the other way, but the judges on Chopped After Hours take the challenge in stride: “You think some slippery eels are going to shake our nerves?” retorts Aarón. Geoffrey recommends that the skin be removed, which is an important step. Only one pro chef managed to serve his dish with eel that had the skin removed in the appetizer round of the Ultimate Champions premiere. His dish turned out to be the judges’ favorite, but the other dishes left something to be desired — i.e., no skin.
Geoffrey, Chris and Aarón are cooking with the appetizer basket ingredients — eel, pepihuates, shaved coconut and sea beans — from tonight’s episode. Even though Geoffrey points out they’re not equipped to properly skin an eel, the three judges cleverly decide to parboil it first, which makes removing the skin and bones much easier compared with how the episode’s chefs struggled. The only ingredient that leaves Geoffrey flummoxed is the pepihuates. “Watch me magically transform it,” Chris asserts. Aarón explains it’s simply a Mexican tomato-based snack/drink with peanuts and a tamarind stick — not unlike a Bloody Mary, Ted thinks.
On this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient chicken livers. Although chicken livers are more traditionally used in pate, the chefs decided to take advantage of their earthy flavor by cooking them with mushrooms and butter in a twist on stroganoff in this Chicken Liver Stroganoff with Greek Yogurt recipe. The Greek yogurt helps give the dish a creamy touch, and the egg noodles soak up the flavorful sauce. It’s a total comfort dish that will make you rethink chicken livers.
Needless to say, the judges on Chopped know a thing or two about cooking, so watching from the sidelines gives them a unique perspective on the competition. With Food Network’s exclusive Web series Chopped After Hours, they have the opportunity to leave behind the judging table and cook with the same mystery basket ingredients that have sent competitors home. On Tuesday, August 26 at 11|10c, Chopped After Hours is coming to television in a special episode.
The Chopped judges have always had their place behind the judging table, but when there’s an opportunity like After Hours, allowing them to come out from behind and get in the kitchen, they’re happier than pigs in mud. Ted points out that “rather than watching from the sidelines, complaining about other people’s cooking,” the judges can be front and center. But Scott doesn’t leave it at that, and he jokes, “Now it gives people the opportunity to complain about our cooking.” But considering how great the basket is, they’re more excited than usual to get cooking: “I’m dying to cook this. I’m really antsy and raring to go,” he says.
“This is not the little piggy that went to market,” says Ted. “This is the star of our food truck and food cart entree round.” Amanda, Aarón and Scott are taking on the ingredients from tonight’s episode: whole sucking pig, fiddlehead ferns, kebab sauces and corn tortillas. All the judges are excited to work with the basket, as Amanda points out, “because there are so many options.” Scott, though, jokes that Aarón is probably going to make tacos because there are tortillas — and, well, Scott’s right.
An all-new tournament comes to Chopped, which will test a group of top former champions in a high-stakes battle. What makes this competition so interesting is that groups of professional chefs, amateur home cooks, heroes and celebrities will be competing. But the playing field is completely leveled when it comes to the Chopped kitchen, where anything can come out of those mystery baskets, oftentimes confounding the most-consummate professional. The winners of the four preliminary rounds will go on to the grand finale, where only one competitor will walk away as the grand champion and the winner of the biggest prize in Chopped history, $50,000 and a brand-new car.
On this week’s Chopped Dinner Challenge, the chefs of Food Network Kitchen chose to feature the basket ingredient grapes. While raw grapes are the perfect way to add a touch of sweetness to a salad, or just for snacking on their own, cooking with them might not necessarily be the most obvious choice. But in this recipe for Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs with Grapes and Olives, the sweetness of the grapes works together with salty ingredients like olives and capers to create a balanced dish that the entire family will love — and it puts grapes in a whole new light.