Iron Chef Results

As promised, the results from this year’s Iron Chef competition:

I’m not going to make you read to the end to find out what happened.
In the end, we didn’t win, but we made some really tasty food.

The theme was released at 9:00 AM yesterday, an excerpt from the email:

BURTON-JUDSON IRON CHEF

February 5, 2011 5 p.m. Judson Lounge

“REINVENTING HOOTENANNY AND TAILGATE FARE”

“A hungry man is not a free man” (Adlai Stevenson, born February 5, 1900)

In the liberal spirit of the illustrious Illinois governor, Democratic Party presidential candidate, and ambassador to the United Nations, who was born today at the beginning of the last century, let’s have some liberally, classily, and—if you so choose–multiculturally reinterpreted AMERICAN COMFORT FOOD!

To get into the spirit of American folkways and foodways, please note that today is the 50th anniversary of the First University of Chicago Folk Festival (February 3-5, 1961), which featured such American traditional music luminaries as the old-time string band, The New Lost City Ramblers, and the bluegrass virtuosos, The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys (now of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” fame).  And tomorrow is, of course, Super Bowl Sunday!

In light of such a past and future, please prepare 3 of 4 dishes of broadly construed, liberally reimagined American cuisine. Your dishes should include:

–a super bowl of something;

–(in honor of old-time string band music) old-time string beans;

–(in honor of American folk tunes like “Crow Black Chicken,” “The Old Fish Song,” and “Cowboy Waltz”) somechicken, fish, or beef.

Soon after the email came out, we began menu planning.
I saw a recipe for duck consommé about a week ago in the Atlantic, so I really wanted to make duck consommé with duck liver ravioli.  But I when I called Treasure Island I was informed they had neither duck stock nor duck liver.  So instead we made a chicken consommé with a chicken liver ravioli for our first course, as a play on chicken noodle soup.

To make the consommé, I used 6 cups chicken stock, various herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme), egg whites, some chicken thighs with skin (which we put through a food processor) and about 2 cups mirepoix (finely diced carrots, onions, and celery).  To make consommé, it’s necessary to start with cold stock and then to make a raft out of the other ingredients by mashing them together and making a “raft”.  This keeps the ingredients together and the consommé clear, while the egg whites pull the fat from the soup.

To make the ravioli, I took a bit of a shortcut.  I used wonton wrappers.  To make the filling, I sweated some one onions, one shallots, a few cloves of garlic, and some lemon zest and set it to the side.  Then I browned 8 oz ground chicken thighs in a pan and set that to the side.  To prepare the chicken livers (we used about 8 oz), we washed them, patted them dry, and seasoned them with salt before I threw them in the pan and browned them for about 7-8 minutes on med-high heat with olive oil.  Then I deglazed the pan with some red wine.  After all that was prepped, we pureed all the ingredients, threw in 8 oz ricotta and 4 oz Parmesan and filled the wonton wrappers.  A note: the filling is very rich, so we only used about 3/4 tsp per 2×2 wrapper.

Sidenote: chicken livers are so cheap and so delicious.  The ones we bought were organic and cost less than $3 a pound.

These turned out very well and were actually the judges’ favorite out of all of the things we prepared.  I was pleased with them as well.

For our main course, we served a braised short rib with some red wine reduction, haricot vertes, and Parmesan potato puree.  The shortrib was prepped in the other kitchen, so I can’t really say much about them.  I think they were just braised with red wine, garlic, and mushrooms and cooked on low heat in the oven.  They turned out OK, I think we dressed them with some lemon juice to add some brightness.  The green beans were just sauteed in some cream and butter.  To make the puree, I boiled some potatoes, ran them through the food processor and added cream, butter, salt, and Parmesan.  The whole dish represented a pot roast with green bean casserole and mashed potatoes, keeping with the theme.

For dessert (see my earlier post on dessert), I decided to do a duo of desserts: flourless chocolate cake and fried banana bread pudding.  We needed a “super bowl” somewhere in our menu, so I decided to use the chocolate cake as a bowl for ice cream, so I scooped a hole out of the center of each round and filled it with vanilla ice cream.

I actually found the recipe for the chocolate cake earlier this week, when I was baking over the course of a snowday.  The recipe comes from epicurious and is actually fairly simple.

To make it, we used:

1 c. water, 3/4 c. sugar, 18 oz. semisweet chocolate, 1 stick butter, 6 eggs, 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, and 8 oz. heavy whipping cream.

First, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

I heated the sugar and water to make a simple syrup, allowing it to boil for 5 minutes.  Then I melted 18 oz. chocolate and butter, stirring in a pan until glossy.  I added the syrup and mixed together well before adding in the eggs and pouring into a heavily foil lined 9 inch round springform pan, which I placed into a roasting pan filled 1 inch deep with hot water.  After the cake baked for 50 minutes, I topped in which a ganache, which was just 8 oz chocolate and 1 c. heavy whipping cream.  Then we let this set in the fridge for about 2 hours.  When the ganache set, I took the cake out of the fridge and cup rounds out with dining hall cups, which I plated.  Then I scooped out the centers and filled them with vanilla ice cream.

The fried banana bread pudding was based off of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at home recipe.  It was made in the other kitchen, so I include the link to the recipe here: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/nov/04/food/la-fo-watchrec4c-2009nov04

The entire meal ended up looking like this:

BJ IC 2011

A low quality picture from my phone, which I will replace when real pictures are put up.

Overall, I’m happy with the way everything turned out.  I think it was a pretty cohesive meal, and I was happy with the progression of the courses.  If I could do it again, I would’ve started the short rib earlier and plated the ice cream a la minute, but it was really nice to cook all day and not have to spend my own money on ingredients.  I think, if I were served this food in a mid range restaurant, I wouldn’t complain, except for the short rib being a bit tough.  I do recommend epicurious’s La Bete Noir recipe though.  It’s very simple to make if you have a springform pan and it’s probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made.  I’ve made it three times in the past week.  Additionally, the ravioli provided a good cheap thrill and made the kitchen smell great.  I would make them again as a first course, but I also suspect they would go very well with Sriracha.  I do have some left over, so I will possibly fry them up and update with results.

Dinner from Linn Matthews – $0 (BJC Subsidized)

Three and a Half Stars: 

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