The new Kylie Minogue album had quite the effect on Marcus Wareing.
Well this heat had everything you could ever hope for: tears, the risk of salmonella, nonsense foods, Kenneth Branagh levels of hubris and not one but TWO butchery challenges!
Monica’s Lamb Cutlets and Mint Pesto
The first of the skills tests required the chefs to French trim a rack of lamb, fry up a portion and serve it with a mint pesto – and as we know any of these challenges involving butchery almost always results in an uncomfortable few minutes and this round was no different as naval chef Ash revealed she hasn’t worked with lamb racks very much in the navy kitchen and while she does do a French trim she doesn’t chop the bones and leaves a rather large amount of fat and meat on them, which is surprising given the mound of tattered lamb flesh she left on the table at the end of the round:
I really felt for her – it’s an incredibly intimidating cut of meat and on top of that you’ve got Monica Galetti staring at your every move like a Terminator calibrating their next kill shot
She also decided to use a rather large cutlet – Monica went for a 2 boned piece whereas Ash opted for a generous 3 bones and because she fried it in a pan the same temperature as the sun she burnt the outside in 30 seconds flat while leaving the inside still bleating
This was even after she cut the cutlet open several times much to Marcus’ absolute disgust.
I do have to admire her attempt to hide the raw insides with her rather frog-like pesto, that’s a galaxy brain move:
Obviously the judges couldn’t eat any of it – again what good is Covid Safety when someone is serving up raw lamb? But Gregg did take his own life into his hands and sample the pesto:
And then there was Jabari who just completely ignored the French-tri instruction, cut off a couple of chops, trimmed them and abandoned the rest
He’s absolutely the guy in a group project who makes the title slide in a presentation and calls it a day.
Jabari’s actual cooking of the lamb was mostly very successful – it was a touch overcooked but it was least edible:
And he showed off some competent knife skills when making his pesto. Unfortunately every slight success he had was overshadowed by the rather appalling rap in which he name dropped the Ricki Lake Show – costing him every ounce of street cred he ever had.
Marcus’s Fillet of Plaice with a Chicken Butter Sauce
The trick to making this dish was to prioritise the sauce so that you could reduce it properly and really develop its flavour an the chefs should have been able to fillet and cook the plaice in a matter of minutes. Both chefs however went straight for the filleting – Ross was much faster and steadier with his filleting whereas Santosh started well but tore a lot of the flesh on the second side of the fish – but both of them removed the skin like an absolute dream – I think it’s the most successful fish filleting we’ve seen at this stage of the competition.
Ross does sound like he had more experience with fish prep – he works in a 5 Star retirement home where apparently halibut is regularly on the menu – sign me the hell up!
But when it comes to the sauce making both of them are woefully at sea – neither of them chopping down the chicken wings and Ross just dropping them into a pot with them pointing skywards like the sinking Titanic
And then Santosh has all the right ingredients – he just adds them in a truly baffling order – he would have genuinely probably been better off deciding the order by rolling a dice. Despite putting his fish into far too hot a pan, which he should have realised given the fact he couldn’t even look at it directly:
His fish is perfectly cooked but his presentation as very much a last minute slam dunk:
And the sauce is almost non-existent.
Ross then opens the old can of worms of “When is a sauce a jus? And when do they become a gravy?” because Marcus claims he just made a jus:
It’s a fine dish but his filleting skills and respect and love for the fish were the highlight of his round – calm down Troy McClure.
Santosh and Ross, the two older and more experienced chefs, were sitting veyr pretty coming into this round because despite a few minor errors they at least understood the instructions they were given, so their two younger competitors had a fair bit of ground to make up.
Santosh was finally getting to show off his Nepalese heritage and using his fond childhood memories and inspiration for his dishes and if the whole chef thing doesn’t work out he has a wonderful career ahead of him as a nail technician
He makes a rather divine sounding Nepalese Spiced Monkfish with a Purple Potato Puree and a Bitter Melon Chutney and Nepalese Cracker:
I do feel like professional chefs do have to eventually accept that nobody really wants purple potatoes – but at least Santosh had the good sense to hide most of it in the centre of his Himalayan cracker
But for me it was Santosh’s dessert that really piqued my curiosity and it’s a deep-fried delight of tradition Nepalese Saffron Boondi paired with a Mango Kulfi
I do very much appreciate Santosh’s brand of gaudiness – every dish is an event for him. Because there are so many deep-fried elements and a thick condensed milk sauce it’s a very greasy affair – so much so that Gregg even complains (there’s a first time for everything). But as a showcase of Nepalese flavours and cooking I think Santosh did himself proud.
Not having same levels of success is poor Jabari who is making a Pan-fried Duck Breast with a Sweet Potato Fondant, a Cherry-filled Duck Croquette with an Orange Puree – which sounds like a saccharine nightmare – ONE FRUIT, JABARI, ONE FRUIT! Despite it sounding like it was going to taste like a mouthful of Strepsils it somehow managed to look like the map of an RSPB wetlands centre:
It was all a little concerningly beige up until they cut open the croquettes to reveal their glowing magenta centres:
The judges desperately scramble for something nice to say but with overcooked duck, a general lack of seasoning and Haribo flavours duck there was nothing working in its favour so it was up to his beige pudding to save him:
I did enjoy Gregg enthusiastically trumpeting that Jabari’s dessert was “ALL CARRIBEAN!” when in actual fact this is what Jabari said:
There was a fried plantain and a mango coulis though but once again the judges were at a loss for nice things to say beyond that his Irish Stout Creme Pat was interesting and unique but you know your MasterChef journey is at an end when Marcus gives you this look:
His Partner in Lamb Butchery, Ash – definitely upped her game from the Skills Test with a wonderfulyl cooked and presented dish of Pan-fried Duck with Roasted Carrots and a Plum Jus:
It too lacked a bit of seasoning – I’m not really too surprised that someone that cook for the British Navy doesn’t really know their way around a salt and pepper pot.
Ash’s dessert on the other hand is a complete triumph – her White Chocolate Mousse with a Fruit Gin Jelly Centre is perfectly set:
And the white chocolates crumbs add the necessary texture. I am intrigued to know exactly what a “micro-sponge” is though because it certainly just looked like she cut off a tiny bit sponge cake
It’s wonderfully pointless – but at least Ash got to go out on a high.
And then last we have Ross who during the judging of his incredibly good Beef Sirloin in an Oyster Sauce he gets very choked up and pulls the woobiest of wooby faces as he is reduced to tears by his own dish:
Is it possible to canonize someone who is still alive? Because Saint Ross, Patron Saint of Retirement Homes has a nice ring to it. He even has to excuse himself between judging his dishes to collect himself and Monica goes out to offer support and has to stand an awkward 6 feet away:
What a sweet baby angel, PROTECT HIM AT ALL COSTS. In fact, build a statue of the man. I hear there’s a free plinth in Bristol.
Once he has composed himself he’s back for the judging of his pudding of a Vanilla Yoghurt Terrine with Strawberry Sorbet and an intriguing Nasturtium Syrup, which again looks a dream:
I’m choosing to ignore the Strawberry and Mint Salsa because it’s literally just chopped strawberries and mint leaves – but the rest of it gets so much praise I honestly thought Ross might dissolve into a puddle of tears.
It was pretty much a no-brainer that Ash and Jabari were going home while Santosh and Saint Ross were advancing.