This post is inspired by the “Bacon Baskets!” episode of Chopped that aired on Food Network last night, which got me all excited because I love bacon.
Do you watch Food Network?
I do. Duh.
Do you watch Chopped?
Do you ever cringe at the basket ingredients or potentially nightmarish combinations of food groups thrust upon the contestants?
Here’s my list of some of the best and worst basket ingredients and/or combinations.
- “Mac & Cheese, Cola, Bacon” involved an appetizer basket with boxed mac and cheese, artichokes, and tilapia. I’m sure chefs everywhere are like “food from a box, no!” but I don’t see how anything mac and cheese can be bad. Especially when it can become a grown up tuna melt meal.
- “In a Pinch” had an appetizer basket with red cherry peppers, mortadella, and soft shell crabs. Honestly, this sounds like the beginning of a beautiful anti-pasto spin off. I’ll take it.
- I’m actually hungry for, and would like to make a meal out of the combination of beef shoulder, baby artichokes, blood oranges, and cashew butter, from “Squashed.” I can imagine a great sauce or fantastic marinade out of this. Don’t know if it would pan out, but I would try it at least.
- The last round of the “$50,000 Tournament” series had a dessert basket with champagne, dragon fruit, tahini, and cake flour in it. I’m not exactly sure what I would make, but there are a lot of possibilities for cakes, ice creams, doughnuts with various dipping sauces, etc. I’d eat it.
- Anything with chocolate, even paired with meat. Chocolate frosting and red meat? Nice try, but that doesn’t scare me.
- All of the bacon baskets. I now want to make some sort of bacon concoction with a cherry glaze. That was a delicious episode.
- In an episode simply titled “Yucca, Watermelon, Tortillas”, the first basket contained watermelon, canned sardines, pepper jack cheese, and zucchini. I honestly can’t imagine what I could make from that. Nor do I want sardines near any of these other foods.
- In the episode “Buckwheat Blunders and Twists of Fate,” a basket contained black olives. Not so bad, right? Oh, yeah, it was the dessert basket and had to be paired with hibiscus flowers, pistachios, and biscuit dough. What?
- “Oh My Goshy, Umeboshi.” The title says it all. I’ve never seen it or heard of it, I’d definitely pee myself trying to figure out what to do with the basket.
- I’m sorry, my friends from down under, but I just can’t eat “vegetable yeast spread” aka Vegemite. In “Dream’n of Redeem’n” this was part of the appetizer basket, and I’m sure it can be worked in with rainbow chard and rump roast just fine, but the mere idea of the stuff on its own has ruined the basket for me.
- In the “$50,000 Tournament,” I can understand a challenge, and some ingredients that may not be palatable to the average eater, but come on, let’s step away from the Rocky Mountain oysters. Please.
- Another from the “$50,000 Tournament” series, a dessert basket in the second round contained key lime juice, pepitas, halloumi cheese, and hot dog buns. I don’t even know where to start with dessert on this one. What?
- Durian. In the dessert round. That’s just not ok. Enough said about “Victory on the Brain.”
- Actually no not enough said. If you look at the title of this episode, “Victory on the Brain,” you’d be correct to assume that brains were indeed an ingredient. Goat brains, precisely. No. Just, no.
- Any time the contestants had to use gummy anything. Ever see that stuff get melted? It almost makes me not want to eat it ever again. Almost.
- Now, as a teacher and a perpetually sick person, I love cough drops and honey quite a lot. Do I want honey herb cough drops in my desserts? No. I feel quite badly for the chefs in “Sweet Second Chance!” for having to pair those up with duck eggs, potatoes, and farmer’s cheese in the dessert round.
That’s all I have for now. Have you watched Chopped? Any baskets or ingredients you remember as particularly terrible? Would you ever have a Chopped competition in your own kitchen. I would! And I have to say that eating in a college dining hall was quite like playing Chopped every night. Agree?