Employment Update: 2 Job Applications (each with an abnormal amount of essays required)
Jennifer was given three dishes cooked by last year’s Masterchef winner, Whitney Miller, to choose from for everybody to cook. She chose her Crispy Catfish with Dill Tarter Sauce, Homemade Slaw and Sweet Potato Fries. The contestants had to recreate the dish with no recipe while Jennifer was given a basket of all 29 ingredients needed to cook the dish.
Christian and Ben had the best recreations and were named captains for the next challenge.
The bottom three were Alejandra, Adrien, and Jennie, with Jennie being the one who was sent home.
Since I obviously was not able to taste the dish that I needed to recreate, I instead tried to find Whitney’s recipes online. While I was able to find these: Whitney Miller’s Oven-Fried Catfish with Fresh Dill Tartar Sauce and Sweet and Spicy Cole Slaw, neither was a perfect replica of what was shown on the episode. So I used these as a basic guideline for what flavors she usually incorporates and took notes of everything that was said about the dish by the judges and chefs. With all of this info, I think I was able to get a pretty solid recreation of the dish. (Note: I was really just winging all of the components so all measurements are really just approximations).
The first component that I tackled was the cole slaw. In a large mixing bowl, I combined 3/4 of a small head of red cabbage (coarsely chopped) , 20 brussel sprouts (coarsely chopped), 1/4 of a yellow onion (finely chopped), 1 small granny smith apple (julienned), 1 jalapeño (finely chopped), 4 small carrots (julienned), and 2 handfuls of pecans (finely chopped). Then, I made the dressing by whisking together 1/2 of a cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1/2 of a cup of olive oil, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 tablespoons of honey, and salt and pepper to taste. I tossed this all together and then let it marinate in the refrigerator until the rest of the components were ready.
Then, I put together the dill tarter sauce for the fish. For my sauce, I combined 1 cup of mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons of ground mustard, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, the juice of half a lemon, 2 teaspoons of fresh dill, 1 teaspoon of fresh chives, 1 teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of black pepper. I originally did the sauce exactly as her recipe called for but I thought it tasted like nothing more than mayo so I added salt and doubled the amount of lemon and dill to get more flavor.
Next, I prepped the sweet potato fries. I simply cut the sweet potato into thin, long strips and tossed the strips in olive oil, salt and pepper. When I started frying the fish, I put the fries into a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes. I know the original dish called for fried instead of baked sweet potato fries, but I am a novice fryer and thought that I might get a bit overwhelmed with frying more than one component.
Finally, it was time for the catfish. First, I let the filets soak in buttermilk for 5-10 minutes. Then, I coated each fillet in a mixture of panko, corn meal, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and chives. After fully coating each filet, I fried them in crisco for 2 minutes on each side. This completed the dish and I plated it just like Whitney did (since that was a major issue with the judges).
All in all, the dish came together well. The cole slaw was surprisingly delicious and the dill sauce paired perfectly with the catfish. The breading on the catfish got a little dark so I maybe should have fried it a little less. And I should have fried the sweet potatoes because the baked fries were not as crispy as I was wanting. Overall though, everything tasted great and I think it was a pretty decent recreation of the dish.