Friday, October 16, 2009

The Next Iron Chef?

In our house, we really don't watch much TV. In fact, when we moved a few months ago, we didn't even get our TV hooked up to the satellite/cable. It wasn't until just recently that we did give in and get Dish. We did this primarily to be able to watch college football and Duke basketball in a few months. And my hubby likes to watch hunting and fishing shows on Sunday mornings. We really don't watch much TV.

Recently, however, I was flipping through some channels on a Tuesday night and caught just the end of "The Next Iron Chef" on the Food Network. It was very interesting to me, so I made a point to tune in the next time a new episode aired. That occurred this past Sunday night. Ben and I sat down to watch the show and were immediately hooked. The "challenge" this week was for the chefs to "reinterpret" some classic culinary creations from either French, Italian, or Greek cuisines. There were nine altogether, one for each remaining chef contestant, including bouillabaisse, pasta puttanesca, and spanakopita.

I love to cook. So Ben came up with the idea that maybe it would be fun to try to cook some of the classic dishes featured on the show. The only one of them I had ever made before was ratatouille. So, I decided to get out the Mother of all cookbooks ("The New Best Recipe"*) and see what I could come up with. One of the first ones I found was a recipe for Coq au Vin. Even though it features mushrooms, it sounded good, so I decided to try it. I went to the grocery store and got the items I would need, and last night I gave it a whirl. I got to use some kitchen implements I own but have never used before, like my meat cleaver, enormous stock pot, and mesh strainer. I also used a few techniques I had never done before, like making a bouquet garni (packet of seasonings wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with a string) and a beurre manie (mash of butter and flour for thickening sauce). The recipe took about two and a half to three hours to make (much of this time while watching an 8-month-old, mind you). It. Was. Fantastic. If I do say so myself. My husband said it was one of the best dishes he has ever eaten, even from a restaurant. Seriously! I think the plan is to try either moussaka or dolmas next. Maybe I could be the next Iron Chef!!

*Editors of Cooks Illustrated. (2004). The new best recipe All-new edition. Brookline, MA, America's Test Kitchen.

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