Iron Chef: Battle Cornucopia Results and Recipes

October 28, 2011

In my last post, I detailed the Iron Chef-style challenge that I was gearing up for at my work.  Well, the results are in, and I’m here to report on them.  Unfortunately, the field of entries narrowed from six or seven to just three, as people fell out due to broken limbs, failed recipe attempts, or simple forgetting and lack of prep time.  Here’s a recap of the three entries that were made, which coincidentally, were each a different course, so we had a lovely little meal starting with Seth’s contribution:

Seth made a great sweet-potato pumpkin soup with bacon, thyme, rosemary, and garnished with apples sprinkled with cinnamon and cardamom.

My entree was next:

Apple and onion stuffed porkchop topped with spiced pumpkin-beet chutney, apple cider cream, and applewood-smoked salt.

Last up, Heather made dessert:

Chai-spiced pumpkin custard with prosciutto and apple garnish.

Now that I’ve recapped the entries, the results: Seth and Heather tied for first.  In all honesty, I am a little disappointed to have finished last, but by no means upset: Heather and Seth are both excellent cooks.  Also, I learned a lot from this competition.  Living alone and cooking for one, I usually make everything a single serving at a time, since I’m not big on having the same thing meal after meal for a week.  The problem was that I failed to consider how my dish would re-heat on the day of competition.  Heather had the benefit of being at work in the kitchen already, so her custard was fresh from the oven, and Seth made soup, which tends to improve on next-day reheating.  My chop, on the other hand, came out a little dry, the spices a little overdeveloped.  Of course, I should have anticipated that and slightly undercooked them, so that on reheating they’d come out just right, but I’m so used to single-serving cooking that it honestly didn’t even cross my mind.  So I live and learn.  A new challenge has already been proposed, so hopefully I can take the lessons from this challenge and apply them to Iron Chef: Battle Crabcake.  My recipe is below, Heather’s can be found here, and Seth didn’t write anything down, so the list of ingredients in the description will have to suffice.

Apple-Onion Stuffed Porkchops with Pumpkin-Beet Chutney and Cider Cream

Ingredients:

2 lbs butterfly pork chops, pounded thin

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium tart apple, such as granny smith, diced

1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds

2 Tbsp bacon grease (can sub butter if necessary)

1 lb beets, cut into 1/4” cubes

1 lb pumpkin, cut into 1/4” cubes

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp honey

4 Tbsp butter, divided

1-1/2 cups apple cider

1 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp chai spice (mix 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 Tbsp ginger, 1 Tbsp ground cardamom, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper)

2 tsp honey

Method:

Oven to 375.  Fold the pork chops at the butterfly seam and season the outside with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter and toss the cubed beets with the ginger, 2 tsp honey, and butter, and place in a roasting dish in the oven, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.  While the beets are roasting, melt the other 2 Tbsp butter, toss the pumpkin cubes with the cinnamon and butter, and place in a roasting dish and set aside.  When the beets have been in for 20 minutes, remove the foil, and place them back in the oven for 20 more minutes.  Put the pumpkin cubes in the oven, too.  Don’t mix the pumpkin and beets together in the pan or the beet juice will stain the pumpkin and the presentation won’t have that lovely color contrast.

While the beets and pumpkins are roasting, heat the bacon grease in a large skillet and sautee the onions, fennel seeds and apple until the onions are just starting to caramelize (about 10 minutes).  Remove from the skillet and use to stuff the pork chops, finally securing the stuffed chops with toothpicks to keep them closed.  When the beets and pumpkin are done cooking, remove them from the oven, and set aside.  Sear the stuffed chops in the bacon grease from earlier, about 1 minute each side, to give color, then transfer to the oven until done (about 20 minutes).  As the chops are in the oven, put the cider in a small saucepan with the chai spice and honey.  Simmer, uncovered, to reduce to 1 cup, then mix with the sour cream.

To serve, top the chops with a few spoonfuls each of the beet and pumpkin, top with cider cream (whip the cream with an immersion blender or whisk for a silkier texture), and sprinkle with applewood-smoked salt, to taste.

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