MasterChef The Professionals Recap: Battle of the Lambs

Hands up Gregg, you’ve been found guilty of crimes against breakfast.

We return to our normally scheduled MasterChef programming of 4 chefs and are absolutely none the wiser as to what happened to GhostChef Killah. But there are new unverified theories emerging every minute.

Marcus’ Scallops with a Romesco Sauce and Tomato Salad

The chefs have to shuck their own scallops, make a romesco sauce and a tomato salad out of these tomatoes that look like a group of people playing Among Us:

The lemon is a little sus.

I’m mostly just shocked that nobody cut themselves in this challenge – although I shouldn’t be entirely surprised given that one of the chefs opted to shuck his scallops with an unwieldly palette knife

Sheffielder Luke was a little wary throughout the challenge, it may have been because his wife entered him into the challenge knowing she was going to give birth to his child only a week before the filming schedule… Bit of a red flag. It had been a couple of years since he had worked with scallops, although he probably should have remembered that you don’t rip them from their shells like you’re taking down old wallpaper, resulting in a trio of rather tattered looking scallops

Joe on the other hand was a dab hand at shucking, getting them out of their shells within seconds using the correct method of a spoon.

The tables were turned when it came to the Romesco Sauce though – Luke instantly knew that everything goes into the blitzer completely raw and that it’s a cold sauce. Joe on the other hand beautifully cooked all the right ingredients and concocted a sort of nougatine-looking romesco sauce that had all the correct flavours and none of the right texture:

It’s probably not a bad thing to do when you’re cooking something as soft and almost textureless as a scallop. Joe was forgiven his romesco based sins because his scallops were cooked beautifully – and displayed like a restaurant in the 1970s

It’s kind of telling that if you Google “Scallops served in the shell” the first suggestion is a Delia Smith recipe.
Luke’s scallops were similarly well cooked, although looked like they had truly seen Hell and returned with only half their soul, but his presentation was good

and dare I say better than Marcus’s whose looked a bit like the strewn pieces of a child’s intellect box – so many scattered geometric shapes.

Monica’s Kidney’s on Toast (Lamb Kidneys, Not Monica’s own Kidneys)

I don’t mind offal – I’ll order livers off any menu and give me a steak and kidney pie any day of the week, but I do draw the line at eating kidneys on toast for breakfast – that’s just weird Gregg. Have bacon like a normal person.

Both chefs managed to keep their cool better than I would had I walked into a room and been told to prepare these alien egg sacs for consumption

I’ve seen enough of the Alien films to know that looking directly at these will only result in an alien bursting forth from your chest screaming like Gregg being told someone is making a chocolate pudding

Both Aaron and Jahdre are obviously familiar with preparing kidneys – they remove them with ease and considerably less emotional and physical damage than Luke put his scallops through.
They differ however on their cooking of them, with Jahdre doing exactly what Monica did and cooking them in the pan whole, or he does once he has worked out how to use the stove top and stopped dancing the Hokey Cokey with it. He misjudges the temperature and the basting time and is on the verge of serving the judges some faintly bleating kidneys

but he has a quick second to flash fry them and finish them correctly. His sauce lacks in strength and Gregg would be sending them back if he were in restaurant that is absurdly serving kidneys on its breakfast menu.

Aaron opts to halve his kidneys before cooking them – which personally seems like a better idea to me – something about that flamingo-pink centres, even on Monica’s kidneys, just doesn’t look appetising so I appreciating Aaron’s attempt at disguising them

His sauce is much more well rounded than Jahdre’s and I think generally it was a better round for Aaron.

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With nobody doing absolutely terribly in the first round there wasn’t really a mountain to climb for anyone – Luke and Jahdre probably had slightly more to prove than either Joe or Aaron but everyone was still pretty much on a level playing field so it was a round that could have gone any which way.

As is tradition at this point we end up with a Battle of the Lambs between Luke and Aaron. Luke opts for a standard piece of English fare – A Lamb Cannon with Pea Puree, Sautéed Morels and Roast Potatoes:

It gets universally praised – even the red wine sauce that everyone was so sceptical of… I thought lamb and red wine was a pretty standard combination? Quite how much of the praise is because his cooking is so transcendentally amazing and quite how much of it is the intimidation from the fact he a wrestler on the side could be debated. I insist that should they ever decide to eliminate Luke, Gregg has to wrestle him first.
Aaron’s lamb was a nod to his Indian hertiage with a Chettinad Lamb Loin, Aubergine Puree and a Crispy Sweetbread

(by the way, the thick rind of unrendered fat never comes up)
Chettinad being a specific localised cuisine of South India with a specific repertoire of spices including cinnamon, cloves, star anise, aniseed and a plethora of different peppercorns and chillies, as well as a lichen called Kalpasi which Aaron is using, and is why the mix looked a bit like a forest floor at one point

He’s pairing it all with a Madeira Sauce which Gregg very helpfully and with all the nuance of a toddler, informs him that “BUT MADEIRA IS EUROPEAN!?” because God forbid we cross the cultural divide. It doesn’t surprise me then that Gregg finds the 10 spice mix overwhelming and confusing but it goes down well with both Monica and Marcus – who is particularly impressed by Aaron’s exciting aubergine 🍆👀.

Aaron and Luke’s face off didn’t just stop there though as both went on to use cherries for their desserts – and both having a bit of a fumble, Luke’s dessert just looked a little heavy and inelegant, mostly because his White Chocolate Mousse literally looked like school dinner mashed potato:

The judges liked his pistachio cake but looking at it, I’m convinced that it’s undercooked and raw in the middle. But it’s hard to get cherries, pistachios and white chocolate as flavours wrong – so despite some befuddlement over the textures the dish still works as a flavour profile.
Aaron also had a few issues with his Set Buttermilk and Marinated Cherries with a Fennel Crumble:

The most glaring one being the fact those are just raw, halved cherries and the dish as a whole is nothing but a glorified Instagram breakfast – which Gregg loves but as we have established Gregg’s taste in breakfast is not good. Monica wishes he had skinned the almonds, which as an isolated critique is just the most delightfully first world problem.

Trying to continue his seafood success Joe is cooking a Pan-fried Halibut, Fresh Crab and a Pancetta Bouillabaisse Sauce, which on paper is something I would order in a heartbeat, got to admit though, I’d be a bit disappointed if this showed up at my table:

I’m not overly sensitive about whether my fish is slightly torn or not, so I don’t mind the uneven colour but that sauce is just the saddest looking thing I’ve seen in quite a while – and the sight of whole chunks of pancetta just falling from the jug was deeply upsetting.
A bouillabaisse is a rich, vibrant terracotta orange sauce and that is just ditch water grey – it’s not his proudest moment and sadly he didn’t get to entirely redeem himself with his Buckwheat Tart filled with Maple Caramelised Apples, Candied Pecans a Bourbon Aerated Custard:

Can we call a collection of things that barely fill a pastry case “a tart”? There is literally only 5 segments of apple in there:

FILL THAT BABY UP. I think Joe just got flustered for time because, again, that dish on paper is a crowd pleaser and I’m sure when he practised it outside of the series, it was amazing and it just didn’t translate to a 50 minute time limit.

Jahdre also struggled with the time, his Sesame Glazed Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Puree and Kumquat Gel looked distinctly unfinished, and in desperate need of a pop of colour:

I did appreciate the fact he made his puree and gel look like a little animal being crushed beneath a boulder:

The main issue is he didn’t get his sauce onto the plate in time – so it was fully made, it’s just sitting on the counter in a pan, which annoys me. Just let him pour it into a jug, it’s 2020, cut him some slack guys. Jeeze.
His pudding of a Rum Syrup Poached Banana with Gingerbread and Mascarpone Mousse was a more successful

I think it’s mostly because he concentrated on it a lot more because it was based on his grandmother’s recipes. The gingerbread is, according to Marcus, a little stodgey, I would argue that stodgy gingerbread is elite gingerbread but the judges seem to have discovered Nirvana through his rum laced banana.

With Joe having a bit of a nightmare and Jahdre just falling short of Luke, it’s them who find themselves turfed out of the MasterChef kitchen while Luke and Aaron join Guillaume and Burhan in cooking for The Critics

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