Apologies to Megan McKenna, I didn’t have a use for this screenshot so, cover image it is!
We Call this episode The HELP! We’re Kind Of Running Out Of Covid Safe Possibilities Episode. Also, remember parties?
A Spain in the Arse
Are you ready for another Professional Chef PR Stunt but this time with ~fancier~ food? No? I don’t blame you. This time the celebrities would all be cooking the dishes of Michelin star chef Nieves Barragan, who specialises in the food of the Basque Country, having grown up in Bilbao. This does of course mean that there was seafood on the menu, so say some prayers now. The challenge followed the usual course of the celebrities working from an illustrative picture and a recipe.
One of the Basque Country’s most famous ingredients is Bacalao, or Salt Cod, and of course Megan was given the task of mushing this into a particularly questionable looking mousse
the mousse was then being stuffed inside piquillo peppers and deep-fried – the deep-fryers are getting one hell of a workout this series. And then the whole dish was served on a squid ink sauce so black that it could probably get someone sued by Anish Kapoor
the plate does also look a little bit like a series of things that washed up on a beach in an oil spill but it’s what the picture looked like so that one’s on Nieves.
She absolutely nailed the cooking of everything too and the dish tasted as authentic as they could have hoped for from someone whose understanding of Spain stopped and started with Marbella.
Joining Megan in liberally stuffing delicate tubes (that’s a Michelin Star segue right there) was Joe who had to stuff squid with mushrooms and prawns. This did of course mean he had to prepare the squid, which he was doing with all the tact and grace of a year 7 in a biology class
and despite the fact Joe was still working in such a way that made as much mess as he possibly could, his dish looked remarkably elegant and sophisticated
I mean, it would be hard to mess up one (1) tube of squid in gazpacho but if there was anybody would could have done it, it would have been Joe Swash.
The dish is a bit divisive – John thinks the squid is undercooked, Gregg thinks it’s perfect because of course he does and Nieves couldn’t quite get passed the fact there was still quite a bit of grit within the mushrooms, which shouldn’t be surprising given Joe’s opinions on mushrooms
I hope Stacey never trusts a single thing he ever cooks her ever again.
The honour of Completely Ruining Seafood this time went to Bez who failed to read the instructions to cook his loin of monkfish whole and then cut it up for serving and before anyone could stop him he had chopped it up into tiny cubes and was frying all £30 of it into oblivion
The monkfish was to be served with the traditional Arròs Negre – a mix of rice, squid ink and cuttlefish, which look alarmingly like someone deflated an elephant
and Bez managed to prepare it and cook it up very well, I wonder if he also has cuttlefish roaming his garden and he just butchers a couple of them every weekend?
His monkfish was obviously overcooked because he cooked the tiny nuggets for the same length of time you’d cook the full loin but his rice and cuttlefish are pretty perfect – sadly nobody mentions the fact he served it up in such a way that it did look a bit like an emoji
yes, I’ll put googly eyes on it
that ought to get her that second illusive star rating!
Dion had been given one of the most traditional and prevalent dishes of Spain: Boquerones, or Spanish Sardines and he was pulling a miracle worthy of Jesus Christ himself as he was making Spanish Sardines out of British Mackerel
it might not quite be as crowd pleasing as turning water into wine but you know, it might have given The 5000 a fancier meal.
The dish gets a lot of praise and he deserves it for managing to not serve anyone a single bone – the only real gripe is the fact he didn’t sliver the garlic and instead served it in quite large chunks that were particularly pungent.
The last of the fish dishes came from Kadeena who was masking Empanadillas filled with a crab and tomato sauce liberally laced with brandy – SIGN ME UP. She did have a little trouble making the filling, asking Nieves if it was reduced enough while still being about 70% liquid
luckily Nieves told her it wasn’t and we didn’t have to watch Kadeena trying to stuff a pastry with a demi-liquid, my heart could not have taken it! Unfortunately because the reducing of the sauce took so long she didn’t have enough time to properly cook the pastries so they were a touch pale
but her actual flavours and seasoning were truly excellent, it just a shame about the soggy bottoms.
Melanie, who has thus far managed to completely avoid having to cook red meat found herself coming face to face with Iberico Pork which she was having to cook in a paprika and garlic marinade and serve alongside Poor Man’s Potatoes, which are basically potatoes roasted in a lot of chicken stock, onions and thyme
the dish is certainly the least pretty looking of the bunch – although that depends how you felt about Bez’s black rice emoji face – but my God if it doesn’t sound delicious, and even though she removed far too much of the fat from the pork loin, everyone still falls head over heels for the whole thing and that fact Melanie has “finally mastered classical cookery techniques”.
Lastly we have Kem who had been given the task of making a Tortilla, which he did think meant he was going to be making a wrap which isn’t surprising considering he came up against this conundrum
use your analytical skills, my dude!
This wasn’t any ordinary tortilla, no this was a Michelin Star tortilla, so of course it was stuffed with mushrooms and prawns and then cooked in a teeny tiny frying pan that made Kem ridiculously happy
which in turn made me very happy.
One of the biggest factors of the tortilla was that Nieves wanted it to be quite runny in the middle. This was her example
and then this was Kem’s which the described as “incredibly moist!”
That is a bone dry tortilla. The Atacama Desert of Omelettes.
The lack of wetness aside, the dish was also severely lacking in seasoning, but at least it was very green
Parsley oil is one of our greatest mistakes.
The prize for impressing Nieves the most in the challenge was being spared the forthcoming Abigail’s Party Challenge – a mercy by any means. It came down to being between Melanie, Megan and Joe with the eventual winner being Melanie although personally I think Joe cooked the more accomplished dish, regardless of John’s taste in overcooked squid.
In what I can only imagine was a furious, espresso-fuelled brainstorming session in MasterChef HQ, the last challenge of the episode is for the celebrities to make two different plates of party nibbles which is then loosely tied into Abigail’s Party (but mostly just the line about cheese and pineapples) because this is The BBC and I suppose they needed to at least try to add an educational element to the show. Also, they had those clips rotting in the archives and needed to use them somewhere.
As it was all themed around party food the celebs were meant to dress up, with Megan obviously putting in the most effort and looking a bit like she was about to try and sell you a house that’s £20,000 over your budget
I continue to be fascinated and alarmed by how ready and willing she is to cook in white clothing. And then Bez and Joe both showed up in black t-shirts that they may have just bought from New Look that morning
and to think, Melanie would probably have had a lovely party frock – and that’s not to mention what Su Pollard might have worn given she already dresses like every day is the last 15 minutes of the office Christmas party. Although, Dion being dressed like he was the groundskeeper that absolutely definitely did the murder in a mid-afternoon BBC detective series did bring me joy
it’s a fine line between peaky Blinders Chic and murderous rural inhabitant who hates city folk.
The only person to even vaguely keep up the pretence that this was all related to Abigail’s Party was Joe Swash – a man seemingly destined to ace this challenge given that he is an Iceland party platter made flesh. He was riffing off the cheese and pineapple cubes that are seemingly the only things anyone remembers from Abigail’s Party and making some ricotta and pineapple profiteroles – a recipe he had allegedly practiced four times and failed four times, which did make me think this was going to be Michelle Collins and her flatbread vendetta all over again and yet, apparently fifth time’s the charm
I can’t tell you quite why he only put 4 on a plate or why he spaced them out like they had to socially distance from one another but I appreciate the King Midas approach to decoration, which unsurprisingly goes down especially well with John Torode, who came to the challenge dressed like a vampiric Mr. Toad
have we ever seen him and Laurence Lewellyn-Bowen in the same room?
Joe’s other party nibble was a scotch egg which he was fancying up a bit by using a quail’s egg instead
the eggs are ever so slightly overcooked, which Gregg is willing to overlook less because the Scotch Egg tastes nice and more because Joe Swash made it. John mostly praises the curried mayonnaise that he served alongside them.
The only other person to attempt a sweet nibble was, of course, Kadeena Cox: Queen of Puddings who was making miniature Lemon Meringue Pies
and they do look rather adorable and both John and Gregg seemed quite fond of them and were impressed that she got them done considering she had to make her own pastry and curd. However, her other nibble was kind of just jerk seasoned raw tuna wrapped in cucumber
these didn’t go down quite as well because John has decided that cucumber is the worst thing to have ever existed – and I’m glad I finally have a comrade in this fight, I am sad that it comes as Kadeena’s expense but an ally is an ally.
The Dessert Duel wasn’t the only culinary tussle happening as Kem and Dion found themselves locked in a Shish Showdown – try not saying that in Sean Connery’s voice. Further exhausting his family’s secret recipes, Kem made beef and pepper kebabs served alongside a garlic laden yoghurt and a roasted vegetable dip
which all goes down very well so Kem’s dad’s reputation as Kebab King is still firmly in tact.
Dion’s Coconut and Sesame Seed encrusted lamb kebabs were similarly well received in terms of their taste but John and Gregg both agreed that they were maybe a touch too big
I think these sounded like the most interesting things made this round, that coconut and sesame seed crumb coating really intrigues me.
And if his kebabs were too big, well his Jerk burgers and onion rings that looked like a game of Quoits gone wrong was nearing mammoth
he really didn’t need to do the onion rings, or just do the onion rings. Actually, definitely the latter, it’s not a party without onion rings.
With his second offering Kem wanted to showcase that he he did have more up his sleeves than his family’s Turkish recipes and valiantly tried to make a Yorkshire Pudding stuffed with roast beef and horseradish look as elegant as possible
they are pretty impressive Yorkshire puddings and his beef is cooked to absolute perfection. I am a little shocked that John didn’t pass out over the amount of horseradish dolloped on them.
Megan was also taking on a classic beef dish and hoping to reinvent steak and chips as an elegant nibble with the result going down well with the judges but something about the absurdity of a slice of steak being skewered to a single chip is like something out of a Mr. Bean sketch
John and Gregg were mostly just happy that they finally got given some decent chips, and her cooking of the steak was perfect as long as you like your steak medium rare.
Her Mozarella Arancini were much more up my street, even more so the fact they looked much bigger than I think and John and Gregg were anticipating
You know what they say: The bigger the arancini and the closer to God.
They too go down very well – how could deep-fried risotto not go down well? At this point Megan is a dead certainty for the final. Which means she’ll be eliminated in the next episode.
Bez was also having fun with the deep-fryer as he made some crispy crab wantons to start off his nibbling menu
I will take 10 of them, thanks, although if he could promise to not cut things while they’re in the pan, that would be great too
Bez, learn how to use kitchen utensils challenge.
While his wantons were a hit, his flatbreads weren’t quite so well received given the fact they weren’t very flat and what he had essentially served was some uncooked doughballs topped with hummus and lamb
I am extremely concerned by just how much moisture a mere three flatbreads seem to be leaking onto his serving board? Are they ok? Do they need a tissue? A hug? I’m worried about them.
And if you want to know quite how bad they were, Gregg hesitantly says “the hummus is lovely.” and then doesn’t say a single word more. There is only hummus.
A Party Nibbles Ranking:
- Kem’s Dad’s Kebabs
- Dion’s Second Place Shish
- Megan’s Fistfuls of Arancini
- Kadeena’s Only Real Nibble
- Joe’s Blinged Out Profiteroles
- Joe’s Firm Quail Scotch Eggs
- Bez’s Deep-fried Redemption
- Kem’s Daintiest Yorkshire Puddings
- Megan’s Steak+Chip Skewers
- Dion’s Burger Pile
- Kadeena’s Cucumber Wash out
- Bez’s Leaking Flatbreads
Despite the fact I had just declared him a contender to win yesterday, it was with great sadness that we saw Bez get eliminated, but if it happened I’m glad it got to happen with him dressed like Santa Claus serving a life sentence
My Google search history is now 90% just me trying to find a red and white plaid suit.
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