Have you ever watched Chopped or MasterChef and wondered how you’d do in a Mystery Box Challenge. I know I have. Lately, I’ve asked friends to throw down these challenges to test my skills and get me cooking outside my comfort zone. Four ingredients, no pressure.. GO!
The Mystery Basket ingredients(courtesy of friends Becca and Stephanie) were.. Lamb Steaks, Quinoa, Belgain Endive, and Cinnamon Yogurt covered Pretzels! They allowed for the more generous MasterChef time limit of 1 hour, possibly because they wanted to eat something that tasted good.
I wracked my brain for a few minutes and decided to go with a Tzatziki sort of flavor in the Quinoa to go along with the Lamb, because that’s a damn tasty combination. I cooked up the Quinoa, risotto style, starting with onions and garlic and adding the dry Quinoa. I cooked it for 15 minutes with chicken stock and eventually finished with chopped Parsley, Dill, Lemon Juice, Yogurt and a nob of butter. Done!
The Endive were very bitter, and I wanted to sweeten them up a bit. I started by pan cooking them with butter, onions and fennel to soften.
I blitzed the cinnamon pretzels into a sweet powder and sprinkled it into the layers of Endive before popping it into the oven with some baby heirloom tomatoes.
I treated the lamb simply with salt over pepper over high heat. Finished in the oven with Rosemary and Thyme.
Meanwhile, River watched on, intrigued by the wafting aromas…
I squeezed lemon over the pan to release some of the delicious caramelization and then reduced down the pan sauce with some water and finished it with butter. The sauce ended up breaking, but it gave the dish a nice citrus zing.
Overall, the dish was tasty and fairly well balanced. If the chopped judges were tasting it, They would likely say the Endive,while tasting nice, didn’t really belong with the rest of the dish. They might also comment on the lack of creativity. I was able to competently cook all the ingredients, but I didn’t really push outside my comfort zone and do anything out of the box. Next time!
What would you have done with these ingredients?