Tasty Thursday: Chopped in the Kitchen

So, I love the Food Network. Crazy, right? I bet you didn't know that about me. One of my most favorite shows on the network is Chopped. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly encourage you to watch the next time it airs. Four chefs go head to head in hopes of being the last chopped. In order to do this, they have to create an appetizer, main entree and dessert with a list of ingredients that are in a basket. The tricky part is that generally speaking, one or two of the ingredients are curve balls. Generally the first two ingredients are two that play nice together...and then all of a sudden BAM! The chefs get hit with something very random and probably something they aren't used to cooking with. If they are lucky, they may have even heard of the ingredient. I've seen things as weird random as hagas and as bizarre as gummy bears. The chefs take the ingredients, make a dish and hope to have something that doesn't taste awful. Why do I bring all of this up? Well, sometimes I like to play Chopped in my own house!

How to play

It's really simple. As a college student, or someone who is recently graduated, chances are your pantries aren't filled with tons of supplies. If you have a relatively decent grasp of certain spices, you can make anything taste edible. Take a meat (or tofu if you are a vegetarian) and create a dish around it. Sometimes the crazier the different components, the more creative you can get. I don't recommend taking two crazy different ingredients and trying to make them work, but you'd be surprised at what can flavor other things. For instance, a finely ground coffee can work as a good rub for a steak. Caffeine plus meat equals awesome! Maybe you bought some sauerkraut to eat with your corned beef sandwich once, and now you have all of this fermented cabbage left over. Take the sauerkraut and add it to some other spices and items laying around and create your own funky dish.

A fair warning

You may fail miserably and you'll have to be okay with the fact that sometimes your dish will really not be edible at all. You can fail, and that's okay. In fact, it may be better to fail once in a while so you can get a better feel for what spices or flavors go together. For instance, some ingredients can be paired with just about anything and work out okay. Peanut butter is probably one of the most versatile items in your pantry. Sure, it's good with desserts and sandwiches, but it can be also used to create sauces. A tasty peanut sauce drizzled over a grilled steak, or some pasta could add a different taste profile that you had never experienced!

I'd encourage you to try out Chopped at your house with some friends! You never know what you'll make or who will create a new dish that you had never even though of before!

Do you ever try and create new dishes?

Seth P.