Over the weekend we decided to try something. I’ll call it, “Chopped: Amateur Hour.” We decided it would be fun to try our hand at a Chopped-inspired meal. For those of you unfamiliar, Choppedis a show that airs on Food Network that gives contestants a mystery basket of ingredients. They compete against one another, but more importantly, against the items in the basket. They don’t know what the ingredients will be prior opening the basket, and the producers of the show always try to throw them a curveball. Why, yes, that is a basket of halibut, fingerling potatoes, wild rice, and cotton candy.
So while H stayed at home, my brother-in-law and I went to the store to put together a “mystery bag” of ingredients. We settled on bone-in pork chops, UGLI fruit, thin rice noodles, and two varieties of Snack Pack – chocolate caramel and tapioca. H found the ingredients … interesting, but she was up to challenge. Regardless, our plan B was double-cheeseburgers from McDonalds.
Since I’m writing this blog entry, I am happy to report that we survived, and the results were quite impressive, all things considered. H crusted the pork chops in a chili powder and paprika rub and pan fried them. The rice noodles were prepared two ways – boiled and tossed with the juice of the UGLI fruit, and pan fried to a crisp as a textural contrast and placed atop the pork chops. The Snack Pack, as we suspected, proved to be the most difficult items. H cooked down both the chocolate caramel and tapioca Snack Packs and added shallots and garlic. Her idea was that the savory garlic and shallot flavors would help to cut through the sweetness of the pudding.
The flavor of the pork chop was really nice. The pork chop had a great smoky flavor that went well with the sweetness of the sauce. The rice noodles were a little on the bland side as the UGLI fruit really didn’t show up. And the Snack Pack sauce, if eaten alone, was a little too overpoweringly chocolatey. But, with a little of each component, it was surprisingly good. I’m not quite sure that it’s something that we would make again just as a planned meal, but given that the ingredients were a total mystery, H did a really nice job.
Of course, there will be a chance for revenge. I’m up next. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not expecting the same result, so we’ll have a plan B ready.