It’s time for another installment of Chopped Club! We love the Food Network show Chopped at our house, so much so that we’ve done a couple challenges of our own. This time, we decided to challenge each other with ingredients we already had in our house. It was super fun to select ingredients from our pantry and try to dream up all the possibilities!
Since we are busy parents, we have created our own guidelines for our Chopped Club. There were no rules regarding the grocery store portion this time since we worked from the pantry. So here’s what we worked with for Chopped Club: Pantry Raid.
- One person would cook one night, and the other person would cook the following night.
- No time limits.
- The baskets must include one protein.
- No giving the other person really gross things or things they wouldn’t normally eat…which we probably wouldn’t have had in the house anyway.
So, Tim stepped up to bat first, and I chose some…interesting ingredients for him. He was the lucky recipient of canned cranberry sauce, trottole pasta, canned tuna, and snow peas.
When you select basket ingredients for someone, you kind of start to imagine what they might make. However, the finished dishes usually end up being vastly different from those preconceptions. That’s part of what makes this so fun!
The dish Tim came up with was very creative and really delicious! He very cleverly named his dish “Tuna Pasta Patty Sliders, Pea Funk Fries, & Cranchup.”
Here’s what he had to say about it:
“So when I saw this, I was thinking of some way to wrap it all up into some kind of casserole. Then I thought of just processing it together and deep-frying it all. One thing though – we don’t have a deep-fryer.
What got me to my final product oddly enough was the peas. I thought I could fry them tempura-style. That led me to turning the cranberry sauce into a ketchup-like condiment (hence “cranchup”). So what goes good with fries? Burgers! The only problem was the pasta. I just decided to crush it then add it to the tuna patties since I only had one small can of tuna. I added sage, minced onion, garlic, s&p, and a egg for binding. I used English muffins as the bun since Cara loves them.
As for the peas (Pea Funk? Get it?), I just used a beer and flour as the tempura and then fried them in canola oil. The cranchup was my favorite though. I took 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/8 cup of dijon mustard, a smattering of Siracha along with fresh rosemary and thyme and reduced it. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever made. I’m not lying, it’s damn good. When you look in the annals of history, you’ll see three things – 1) invention of fire, 2) Oprah, & 3) cranchup. Your move, Cara.”
For the record, the cranchup was really good!
Tim came with such an outstanding performance on his basket ingredients that the pressure was really on! The ingredients he lovingly bestowed upon me were banana peppers, dark Karo syrup, peanuts, and chicken thighs.
My first thought was, “Karo syrup? Really? You don’t cook with that!” Ugh. But I had to use it, so the wheels started turning. The peanuts led me in an Asian direction, and I figured I could use the Karo to sweeten a sauce. I have made and blogged a copycat version of PF Chang’s lettuce wraps, and I used that as a sort of inspiration for my dish.
I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that I used a leftover basket ingredient from a previous edition of Chopped Club, basmati rice. For that I think I should receive extra credit. I used said rice to make fried rice, my first such endeavor. I think the fried rice turned out really well, especially considering it was my first time making it! I guess those visists to the hibachi grill finally paid off.
For the chicken, I just poached it and shredded it, and then I made a sauce with the Karo, soy, lime, and a smidge of sesame oil. I topped the lettuce wraps with the peanuts and some sesame seeds, and the whole dish was actually passable for something that resembled a regular meal we would eat!
All in all, we had a good bit of fun, not only cooking, but plating and judging as well. We love to really get into it and pretend we know what we’re talking about.
I’m thinking next time we should do a dessert challenge. 😮
Give your own Chopped Club a try sometime. It’s really fun!