MasterChef challenge, Day 1

Masterchef_day1

The ingredients for the first day of the MasterChef preliminaries were:

  • Chicken. On the show, a chicken leg was used, but I got unboned thighs.
  • Onions
  • Tarragon
  • Blue cheese - the kind of cheese was not specified, so I used Gorgonzola.
  • Potatoes
  • Radish. On the show, only red radishes were used. Red radishes are rather expensive at the moment and I could only get a very small bunch, so I supplemented it with white daikon radish (mouli). But the salad I made could be done with just red radish too.
  • Black pudding. I had to skip this - you cannot get English style black pudding in Switzerland.

The picture shows what I came up with. From the left corner going clockwise: potato and onion galette; a white and red radish salad with tarragon vinegarette; and chicken stuffed with Gorgonzola.

It was pretty tough to actually finish within 40 minutes (especially since I kept getting distracted by phone, laundry, and all those things that get in the way on a weekday evening) but I think if I had just cooked straight through, I could have finished on time.

The best item was the radish salad. I used red radishes and a fairly slim white daikon (or mouli). The aniseed-ness of the tarragon came through quite well in a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing. It was very refreshing and a nice foil for the rather rich galette and chicken.

The potato and onion galette was basically gently sautéed onions, cooked until they are limp and slightly caremelized, baked in a 'shell' of potato slices - sort of like a mini onion pie with a potato crust. This also turned out very nicely, though I put a bit too much butter on the potato slices for fear that they'd stick to the little ramekins.

The chicken was the only item that didn't quite go to plan. The cheese was a very mild Gorgonzola, and it almost all melted out while the chicken cooked, leaving only a hint of its flavor behind. I think I would use a stronger blue cheese such as a blue Stilton or a Rocquefort next time, and also tie up the chicken a bit better for less leakage. It did taste excellent however.

The directions below are for two portions.

The order to make these three items is as follows:

  1. Turn on the oven for the galette and the chicken
  2. Slice the onion and start sautéeing it. Keep stirring it occasionally as you do the other things
  3. Slice the radishes and chop all the tarragon you will need for the vinegarette and the galette
  4. Make the vinegarette, and toss the salad; put in the refrigerator
  5. Slice the potatoes and melt the butter
  6. Assemble the galettes and put in the oven
  7. Bone the chicken thighs and season; stuff with the cheese and tie up
  8. Brown the chicken
  9. Take out the galettes and turn out onto the plates
  10. Put the salad in the mini-bowls
  11. Take out the chicken, let sit if you can for a few minutes before taking off the strings.

Potato and onion galette

  • 2 small boiling type potatoes (not baking potatoes)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2-3 Tbs melted butter
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped tarragon (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Special equipment: 2 small ceramic or glass ramekins, each about 8 cm / 3 inches or so in diameter

Preheat the oven to 180° C / 360° F.

Slice the onions as thin as you can. Sauté in a pan with some olive oil over medium-low heat until limp and a lightly browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and toss in the tarragon.

In the meantime, peel and thinly slice the potatoes lengthwise. Melt the butter, and if you're using unsalted butter lightly season it. Dip each potato slice in the butter, and line the bottom and sides of each ramekin so that they overlap.

Spoon the onions into the potato lined ramekins. Top with more butter-dipped potato slices (you may have to cut the slices in half if they are too big).

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until the tops are browned. Take out and run a small knife around the rim (be careful, the ramekin is hot) and very carefully turn it out into another ramekin. Then, flip the contents onto the serving plate. The idea is to have the browned top on top. You can also serve it right from the ramekin too.

Red and white radish salad with tarragon vinegarette

  • 1 cup of peeled and thinly sliced white daikon radish (about 10 cm / 4 inches )
  • 4 red radishes, tail cut off and thinly sliced. Leave a bit of the green top on the final top slice, to use for decoration
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped tarragon
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Whisk together the vinegar and oil with the salt, pepper and sugar to make a dressing. Stir in the tarragon.

Toss with the sliced radishes, cover and chill until serving time.

Chicken thighs stuffed with blue cheese

  • 2 chicken thighs, boned if possible, or bone them yourself (note: boned chicken thighs are rather unheard of here in Switzerland so I've gotten into the habit of boning them myself, but if you can get boned thighs by all means go for those.)
  • 2 Tbs. strong blue cheese such as blue Stilton or Rocquefort
  • Salt, pepper
  • Butter or olive oil for cooking

Equipment needed: kitchen string

Put the boned thighs skin side down and flatten them slightly with the side of your knife. Don't season the inside, because they will be seasoned by the cheese. Place a tablespoon or so of cheese mushed together into a lump in the center of each thigh.

Wrap the chicken around the cheese and tie them up with kitchen string tightly.

Heat some butter or oliver oil or a combination in a frying pan. Place the chicken skin side down (cut side up). Don't move it around until it's thoroughly browned! Carefully flip it over, then put the pan in the still hot oven. Leave the chicken in there for 10-15 minutes.

Take out and let rest for at least 5 minutes, then cut off the strings and plate up.

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