Just like her Christmas shopping, Ms. S&C is behind on the Top Chef recap/drink pairing. But, there’s not another new episode for two weeks, so I guess we’re okay.
Episode six, or the holiday episode filmed in the summer, brought Martha Stewart as guest judge for the Quickfire Challenge. Pray tell, why was mega-star-Martha only around for the Quickfire, and we got Rocco for a full hour?
Anyhoo, Martha came to the kitchen to judge the cheftestants one-pot-wonders. The challenge was to cook an excellent meal using only one pot. Some cheftestants took this one pot thing literally and cooked all ingredients together in one pot. Some took it figuratively and cooked ingredients separately and washed the pot in between. I was expecting Martha to scoff at the figurative group and be totally unforgiving for their lack of imagination. Not the case. Everyone was full of holiday spirit this week. While she praised Hosea’s true one-pot paella, she crowned Ariane the winner with her cauliflower puree and herb rubbed filet.
The Elimination Challenge had the cheftestants catering a holiday cocktail party for amfAR, using the 12 Days of Christmas for inspiration. Yes, that meant someone had to turn “eleven lords a leaping” and “nine ladies dancing” into fancy appetizers. Things took a dramatic yet uplifting turn when the refrigerator malfunction had all the cheftestants scrambling to save Hosea and Radhika’s lost ingredients. Coincidentally, Hosea and Radhika ended up in the top three. But, in short, the judges thought that the food stunk in general. And the bottom three were so bad, they couldn’t choose one to send home. Or, that holiday spirit thing allowed them to give the losers a break. It turns out that pulling off Christmas in July, for a celebrity charity gig, is tough for aspiring Top Chefs.
Hosea ended up winning with his pipers piping smoked pork loin with chipotle mashed potatoes, braised cabbage and apple jus. After having cooked a braised pork shoulder awhile back, with caramelized onions and chopped apples, I served my dish with a bottle of cider. I think cider would be a good pairing for the smoked pork as well. Tart and crisp, cider can be a delicious beverage, particularly during those warmer months. I personally like Woodchuck’s 802 Dark and Dry because it is dark and dry, and the sweetness is toned down a bit. Cider Jack is pretty good too, for a lighter option.