Top Chef Canada is back with another season, and you know what that means… I’ll be recreating one of the contestants dishes each week. The recipe will be original which I will come up with based on my knowledge, along with minimal research.
The premiere episode was kind of… lacking. It was like the previous seasons, no new challenges or twists.Even the introduction to the contestants was the same, all of them walking into the three story penthouse suite with the shock and awe of their luxurious digs.
The QuickFire Challenge was a skills relay race, which had the chefs divided into teams as they shucked oysters, cut mire poix, segment a lemon (no seeds or pith) and tie a beef tenderloin. Dennis blasted through those oysters, with a broken wrist. I can barely shuck one oyster with two working hands, so I am impressed. I nearly fell of my chair laughing when Jonathan Goodyear (who arrived at the three story suite, with a bellhop trailing behind, with his two pieces of luggage- “I enjoy the finer things in life,”) tied that tenderloin. After bragging about how he’s worked in loads of hotels, and has tied many tenderloins in his lifetime, he only tied the ends. McEwan’s face said it all, and Goodyear was forced to re-tie it. In the end his team, including Nicole, Frederick, and Geoff won a set of Wusthof Knives. (Product placement also returns with a vengeance).
On to the Elimination Challenge… Seriously Top Chef Canada? Again? This is the third time they’re diving into their past for inspiration as a first challenge. I think we were all yawning, or at least I know I was, when Lisa said to use the first dish they cooked as inspiration for the challenge. At least they had Chuck Hughes, Montreal chef and youngest Canadian to compete on Iron Chef America, as their guest judge.
The chefs are back at McEwan’s running around the store for ingredients for 20 minutes, which is not a lot of time at all. It takes me 20 minutes to shop for one item most times. The first slip up of the night came from Kayla, who made fried chicken and waffles, but ran out of time before she could get the waffles on plate. The judges didn’t seem to mind all that much, considering her chicken was flawlessly cooked. And Hughes was impressed with his protege Danny’s perfectly cooked lobster.
The top dishes of the night were Becky’s lemon meringue, Daniel’s duck breast and Matthew’s poached chicken. Matthew won a $5000 cash prize for his perfectly cooked chicken. In the bottom was Kayla for her lack of time management, Fred’s, as McEwan puts it, “angry home cooking” (at least he didn’t say pleasant, right?) and Chris’ weird combination of cod fish and gnocchi. In the end it was Fred’s “institutionalized” roasted chicken that sent him home.
Picking a dish wasn’t difficult for me this week. I chose Kayla’s fried chicken and waffles for two reasons. One, I’ve never made fried chicken before and wanted to try it, and two, I really feel for Kayla. I’ve had time run out on me on many occasions, when you’re stressed working in the kitchen time can just get away from you. Hopefully she steps up her game next week.
Fried Chicken and Waffles:
4 Chicken breasts
¾ cup cornmeal
¼ cup all purpose flour
4 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tbsp ground garlic
1 tbsp ground onion
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp chili pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup butter milk
1. Combine, cornmeal, flour, paprika, garlic, onion, thyme, chili pepper salt and pepper to and mix until combined.
2. Soak the chicken breast in eggs and butter milk for 30 minutes.
3. One at a time take the chicken out of the milk and egg mixture and place the chicken in the cornmeal mixture.
4. Deep fry the chicken, in oil or shortening, for approximately 7-10 minutes.
¾ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large egg
1. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and slowly add both types of milk while whisking.
2. Add the vegetable oil and egg, and mix until the batter is smooth.
3. Pour the batter into a hot waffle iron and cook until the waffle is browned. (Make sure to look at the manufactures instructions when it comes to cooking times).
Serve the chicken and waffle together and enjoy!
I think I’m a bit rusty in this Can I Still Cook Like a Top Chef? thing. The answer this week is a definite no. I approached it wrong, I was thinking fried chicken was more like a breading, when it isn’t. It didn’t taste like classic fried chicken, that I’ve had in the past. It was crisp, but didn’t hit the mark.
I will definitely be revisiting this recipe. The waffles on the other hand turned out better than I expected, they were a perfect combination of fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Make sure to check back for an updated fried chicken recipe in the next couple of weeks.