Food Network’s television series Chopped pits four chefs against each other. With limited time, the chefs must use a set of mystery ingredients to prepare a single course, which is then judged by a panel for creativity, taste, and presentation. In a recent episode, the ingredients were all leftovers.
I love watching this show for the creativity shown by the chefs. While the contestants must use all four ingredients in their creations, they can add other ingredients found in the kitchen. The chefs make three courses – appetizer, entree, and dessert. At the end of each course, one chef is sent home or “chopped” from the competition. The winner gets $10,000. I won’t tell which chef was chopped or which dish didn’t make it, so there aren’t really any spoilers below.
The first round had matzo ball soup, mac and cheese, fried onion blossom, and submarine sandwich – all leftovers. The contestants turned them into an open-face hero sandwich, macaroni cake with matzo, white wine basil mac and cheese, and croquettes.
- Adding basil and green onions to the mac and cheese, along with some white wine, was basically the whole recipe for white wine basil mac and cheese.
- The macaroni cake with matzo looked like a crab cake – the cheese and ham from the sandwich was combined with the matzo from the soup and added to the mac, then breaded and fried in a skillet. The sauce from the onion blossom was mixed with sour cream to make a lighter sauce for the cake.
- The open-face hero sandwich involved removing some of the ingredients from the sub sandwich and mixing them with the matzo soup to make a matzo cheese sauce. A mac and cheese fritter on the side completed that plate.
- The croquettes were made by toasting the bread from the sub and turning it into bread crumbs, then rolling a ball of mac and onion blossoms in the crumbs. A sauce for the croquettes was made with the matzo soup and the meats from the sub pureed together.
The second round used rib-eye steak, mashed potatoes, ketchup packets (like you would get from a fast food restaurant), and greek salad.
- Grecian tacos were made by adding ginger, peppers, and olive oil to the steak. The potatoes and ketchup were combined to make a vinaigrette.
- Seared beef salad with marinated feta was made by combining onions, mushrooms, and peppers with the steak. The chef added red wine and the beef bones to a pot and simmered them. They were accompanied by potato pancakes – simply made by rolling the potatoes into a ball and flattening them, then placing them in the oven. Some fresh greens were added to the greek salad.
- Charred steak tostada with pico de gallo had chipotles and other peppers, lime, garlic, cilantro, and the greek salad mixed together. The charred steak was marinated in tequila, ketchup, and chipotles and the potatoes were combined with cream to make a sauce.
The third round ingredients were ice cream sundae, old bananas (half brown), stale tortilla chips, and soda (flat and syrupy).
- One chef made a hummingbird cake. Flour, sugar, and eggs started the batter and soda was added as a liquid. Cream cheese icing incorporated the sundae as a flavoring. Tortilla chip “brittle” was sprinkled on the cake for texture.
- The other chef made a “Fat Elvis”, peanut butter ice cream with bananas by adding the ice cream, plus peanut butter, milk, and sugar to a pot on the stove, then poured into an ice cream machine to remake the ice cream. Half-bananas were caramelized and sprinkled with crumbled tortilla chips, chocolate, and bacon. (Sounds weird to me, but the judges loved it.)
I freely admit that leftovers in my house are usually eaten exactly as they were served the first time, except sometimes they are eaten cold. It’s refreshing to get new ideas for leftovers.
This episode was first aired in January, so it might sound familiar. It airs again on 25 Jul at 8 p.m. Eastern on the Food Network.
Ripe bananas photo via Shutterstock