S2E11 (Elimination) – Aphrodisiac: Truffle

Employment Update: So sorry it has been so long since my last post but I have been traveling a lot and have been quite productive: 2 Weekend Trips, 6 Interviews, 6 Job Applications, and 25+ E-mails. 

Having won the last challenge, Jennifer was able to pick the main ingredient to be featured in this week’s aphrodisiac-themed elimination challenge. Jennifer decided to skip the oysters and artichokes and picked the black truffle for the chefs to cook with. She was then given the option of cooking or drinking champagne while watching the others cook. She foolishly decided to cook, and then paid for that decision later.

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Tracy (Truffle and Corn Soup) and Giuseppe (Tagliolini) were the top two and named captains for the next team challenge.

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Erryn (Truffle Steak), Adrien (Seared Filet) and Jennifer (Coddled Eggs and Truffle) landed in the bottom 3. Luckily, Jennifer’s hubris did not cause her to be sent home with Erryn’s dish being declared the worst.

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I immediately decided that I wanted to attempt a truffle risotto for this challenge. In thinking about a protein to serve with it, I knew that I wanted to try something a little different. One of my favorite things to order in restaurants is duck confit so I decided to make an attempt at my own version. While it is typically done with duck legs, I was only able to find duck breasts (even after a couple trips to different stores). I followed this recipe: Duck Confit, with the only difference coming at the end. I quickly pan seared the breasts on both sides before serving instead of cooling and storing the duck. The pictures below show how the duck was seasoned and stored the night before, the duck in the melted duck fat before and after cooking, and the duck breasts being pan seared after cooking.

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While the duck was cooking in the oven, I worked on the risotto. The first thing I did was heat 5 cups of chicken broth in a pot on the stove. Then, I sautéed 8 ounces of baby bella mushrooms and 1 cup of english peas (which I had previously shelled and blanched in salted boiling water for 2 minutes) in 2 tablespoons of black truffle oil until tender. When these were done, I removed them (and the juices) from the pan and set aside for later.

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Next, I put 2 more tablespoons of black truffle oil in the pan with 4 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/4 of a small yellow onion (finely chopped), and 1/2 of a medium red bell pepper (diced). I cooked this until the onions were translucent, and then, added 1 and a 1/2 cups of arborio rice. I let this cook until the rice became golden, and then added 1/2 of a cup of white wine. Once the rice absorbed this, I added the chicken broth to the risotto 1/2 of a cup at a time (stirring constantly) until the rice had absorbed all the liquid. Then, I mixed in 1 tablespoon each of fresh finely chopped parsley and chives, 1/3 of a cup of parmesan cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter, a pinch of black truffle salt, the cooked peas and mushrooms with their liquid, and salt and pepper to taste.

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I plated the duck breast on top of the risotto and served. This was a great dish. The duck was tender and juicy. The risotto was cooked perfectly and had excellent flavor. The only issue was that the truffle flavor was very subtle. For a challenge that needed to showcase truffle, that was definitely an issue. Although, had I been able to work with real truffle instead of simply truffle oil and truffle salt, I think that I could have gotten a richer truffle flavor throughout the risotto.

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S1E8 (Elimination) – Romance Theme: Passion Fruit

Employment Update: I’ve had two more Skype interviews since my last post for a full-time role in Chicago with a really cool startup. I’m really excited about it but we will see what happens. In the meantime, I’m just enjoying my time in Louisville and exploring the city (when it’s not raining outside – I thought I left Oregon…).

After the Mystery Box challenge, Lee (the winner) was able to choose which ingredient he wanted the chefs to base a dish around in order to create romantic dishes. His choices were chocolate, passion fruit and burrata. He, of course, picked passion fruit (which is crazy difficult to get around here and I’ve never even tried one before).

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A lot of the chefs did prawns or steak with some sort of fruit salad or sauce. The judges did not appear to be impressed with many of the dishes except for those put out by Sharone (Porcini-crusted Tenderloin) and Lee (Tenderloin and Prawns).

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Slim and Whitney were the bottom two dishes this week. Whitney made passion fruit glazed shrimp, which she overcooked. Slim did a really weird fruit and meat fondue dish and ended up being sent home – mostly because she thought her plate was really good even after a terrible critique.

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For my attempt at this challenge,  I decided to do a Thai-inspired passion fruit risotto with chilean sea bass and roasted asparagus. Tragically, I was unable to find any passion fruit in Louisville. I went to three different stores and all I was able to come up with was passion fruit juice. To make two portions of this dish, I used:

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  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons of Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup of Arborio Rice
  • 1/4 Cup of Red Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Ginger Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemongrass Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Cilantro, Coarsely Chopped
  • Several dashes of Thai Red Chili Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Passion Fruit Juice
  • 2-1/2 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 6-ounce Filets of Chilean Sea Bass
  • Bunch of Asparagus
  • Lime
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Olive Oil for Cooking

The first component I focused on was, of course, the risotto. I sautéed the onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil until the onions were translucent. Then, I put the Arborio rice in and cooked it for a few minutes. I then mixed in the red wine to add some color to the rice, followed by the ginger, lemongrass, cilantro and thai red chili sauce. Then, I started the process of adding the broth into the rice mixture. I had heated the chicken broth and passion fruit juice to a boil before starting the risotto so I could slowly add the warm liquid a little bit (about 1/2 cup) at a time. I continued to do this until the rice had absorbed all the liquid and finished it by mixing in the parmesan cheese.

The other two components were simple. I placed the asparagus in a roasting pan, drizzled the spears in olive oil and seasoned it with some salt and pepper. Then, I just put it in to a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

I seasoned the sea bass with salt, pepper and lime and pan seared it (just a few minutes on each side). With all of the components complete, I plated the dish with the risotto on the base, followed by the asparagus and the chilean sea bass. (See finished product below).

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The dish was delicious and very unique. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had anything quite like it before. Everything was cooked perfectly but it got a little oily and some crunch would have been nice to have in order to break up the similar textures. I also would have liked to add a little more red wine to get a richer color to the risotto. Overall though, it tasted great and I definitely think I would have been safe this time around.