That awkward moment when your dipping sauce almost kills Gregg Wallace.
I for one support Grace Dent in her rebellion against everyone in MasterChef: The Professionals denying us potatoes for an entire series.
Reinventing The Wheel
Last week I opined the way the invention test has evolved to limit cataclysmic failures such as Raspberry Stuffed Chicken Breasts and then Stephanie began delicately shoveling blueberries into her basket which already contained a set of
hench quail guineafowl legs and I thought I may have wished upon a Monkey’s Paw
she wanted to showcase some unusual flavour combinations with a blackberry and blueberry glaze that she was going to baste her pan-roasted guineafowl legs in – which isn’t the most out there combination given that game birds pair very well with berries in general. The thing with putting berries in a savoury dish is you then have to be quite careful what you pair it all with and I’m not quite sure roasted vine tomatoes were the best call
but they lend the dish a pop of colour and at least John and Gregg could eat them because tragically her guineafowl just wasn’t cooked all the way through
but Gregg did risk his digestive system out of the morbid curiosity over the 2 berry honey glaze, which actually turned out to be very nice, so it’s a real shame about the guineafowl.
Aside from her undercooked guineafowl, Stephanie’s dish was also deemed “a little lacking” and it may have benefitted from some green veg. But “lacking” was certainly something you couldn’t call Ally’s dish because the man lost his damn mind and embraced chaos with open arms. Apparently he and his girlfriend roleplay Ready Steady Cook at home (we don’t kink shame on this blog)
and so now she definitely knows to never by him a mango, some butternut, sweet potatoes and pork tenderloin because she will be served what essentially amounts to Pork and Pudding – although you’re kind of asking for it if you give someone all of those ingredients but Ally CHOSE this violence
granted, the butternut fondant is incredibly well cooked and most of the dish is technically well made – although the pork tenderloin ricochets wildly between questionably rare and boot leather. But I very much appreciate the mango scented brainfart of it all, which I did not expect to come from Ally, so that was a pleasant surprise.
Leon was also cooking a pork tenderloin as well as desperately trying to live down the fact his chips in the audition round weren’t the best, something Gregg was adamantly not going to let happen
GREGG! Stop merking My Boy™!
Feeling like he has something to prove, Leon was however braving the deep-fat fryer once again, this time calling them “crispy potatoes” and praise the Lord because they came out phenomenally and they have that sort of crispness to them that you can just about hear by looking at them
but while he finally rectified his Sins of Chips Past, the dish did have a few issues which wasn’t surprising given that he cheerfully informed everyone that he was making a celeriac puree without having ever made a celeriac puree before
the puree was a little bit too grainy, and the heritage carrots had stained it slightly which leant it a slightly ominous purple sheen
but even with the grainy puree and the slightly too salty and unstrained sauce, the dish geared more towards being a success.
Sarah clearly had the stand out dish of the episode with a very well put together plate of Pan-fried Lemon Sole in a Mussel and Prosecco Broth and a side of crusty bread and pesto
it garners her extremely high praise and is lauded as being technically faultless – and I’m sure a fair bit of the praise came from the sheer relief of her following Holly’s Torode Deterrent Broth that John and Gregg could barely go within 5 feet of because it was so spicy
the fact he and Gregg were both slurring their speech after trying it is 100% the best moment of the series so far, welcome to the MasterChef Hall of Fame Holly – I’ll send you a Golden Cod Cheek Omelette in the post.
The broth was more of a dipping sauce though so Gregg and John are entirely to blame for their lacerated vocal chords for drinking it directly from the bowl, because the star of her dish were really quite incredible Mushroom Gyozas
and now I just really want some gyozas and unfortunately I’m writing this at 9 in the morning and nowhere is selling gyozas before 12 – the sooner we normalise breakfast gyozas the better.
Sarah did nearly find herself in a battle for Lemon Sole Supremacy against Tigi, who started off with dreams of roasting a fillet of lemon sole – a project that barely got off the ground because it became very clear, very quickly that Tigi had never filleted a sole before and so the poor fish had to be abandoned in its semi-dissected misery
Press F to pay respects.
He wasn’t entirely letting the sole go to waste though and was using what little of it he could scrape together in order to make a fishcake. Although because he hadn’t put the fish through enough post-death suffering, he was not handling his fishcakes with any sort of grace or delicacy
Press F to pay respects. Again.
But he did eventually get his fishcakes onto the plate alongside some green veg and a miscellaneous spiced vegetable sauce
but as much as Tigi called it a “fishcake” there wasn’t a great deal of fish inside it so it was more of a vaguely fishy potato cake which definitely meant he was at least well practiced going in to the next round. Despite committing a hate crime against the entire Pleuronectidae family and thus not being welcome on the seafloor, he was having a great time backstage
He certainly has a raw guineafowl to be thankful for.
Lastly we have Joanna who was taking on the challenge of preparing squid two ways – simply frying the tentacles and wings in garlic while also making calamari which quite frankly deserves to be made one the Wonders of the Man-made World
the golden colour, the fact you can just about feel the crunch looking at them – top tier calamari. The fried squid is also very successful, and very well prepared, especially considering she had never done it before – so Mitch Tonks can sleep soundly knowing at least one person isn’t trying to destroy molluscs everywhere
He still hasn’t recovered from that episode of Celebrity MasterChef.
While Joanna’s squid was as good as you could possibly hope for it to be, her potatoes were quite undercooked and they have a few issues with her presentation
but what I like about her presentation is that it looks exactly the same as the food served in the restaurants on Kefalonia – everything just put on a plate with a sprinkling of whatever spice mix comes to hand – and it’s charming when you’re sitting in the sun in Lourdas, it maybe doesn’t translate to the MasterChef kitchen.
An Invention Test Ranking
- The Great Greek Calamari
- Sarah’s Dignified Lemon Sole
- Holly’s Gyozas and Torode Deterrence Broth
- Leon’s Round Chips (Patent Pending)
- Ally’s Pork’n’Pudding
- Joanna’s Potato-y Rocks
- The Hell Tigi Put His Lemon Sole Through
- Stephanie’s Pseudo-Coq au Framboise
It wasn’t the strongest round for a lot of the contestants and while Gregg and John were looking at getting a restraining order put against Tigi and flatfish everywhere, Stephanie’s raw guineafowl was deemed the greater crime and it was she who had to go and empty her locker to the strains of whichever demi-Snow Patrol piano music they have on their music database
I for one will miss Stephanie, she seemed like a genuinely lovely person and I hope she had as much fun in the kitchen as I had watching her on the show.
Boil ’em, Mash ’em, Stick ’em In A Stew
For this week’s Critic Challenge, the contestants weren’t given an open ended brief like “That time you went outside”, instead they were being hemmed in by Grace Dent’s enthusiasm for the humble potato
which is a difficult challenge because potatoes are usually just a side dish and unfortunately a few of the contestants fell into the sandtrap of making an amalgamation of side dishes. Nobody came more of a cropper to this than Leon who, still haunted by Memories of Soggy Chips Past, was creating a dish he called “Potato Love” because the MasterChef producers wouldn’t let him call it “A Potato Threeway” because he was indeed planning on making three different potato-things like he was casting for a Veggie Tales police lineup
From left to right: A Vietnamese Hake Fishcake, A Potato and Cheese Muffin, A Potato and Mozzarella Croquette.
But on top of that he was also having to put together a different dipping sauce for each of them – so he had 6 different elements to get done. He would have been better served either making just the muffins into a brunch dish with a poached egg and bacon, or a plate of the fishcakes which he would have then been able to give a little more attention and care to – because sadly as they are, the fish was a touch overcooked, but at least there was fish in the fishcake… It wasn’t a complete right-off though because they liked his chilli dipping sauce, which Gregg and John had now learned not to drink straight from the bowl.
Tigi also somewhat took the “I’ll just throw some potato-based side dishes on a plate!” approach with some Chorizo Croquettes and some Battered Yam Chips that John was very upset by
If Tom Kerridge can triple cook chips, Tigi can batter a yam and I will protect his right to do so. The yam wasn’t the only thing being battered though because Tigi was continuing his reign of kitchen terror
I mean, someone once served Mary Berry green carpet.
As well as his chips and croquettes, Tigi had made a steamed vegetable salad covered in sour cream as well as an African Pepper Sauce which he claimed was the prettiest dish he had plated up so far which did make the fact the cameraperson opted for *this* angle VERY funny to my VERY immature brain
The Pepper Sauce kind of steals everything else’s thunder with Grace demanding he bottle it and sell it – so watch your back Levi Roots, there’s a new sauce behemoth in town! The croquettes also get a very positive reception while nobody particularly cares for the chips and John deems the salad “a little faint” but it is a salad made of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower so I don’t really know what you wanted from it.
While Tigi and Leon opted for an array of sides, Joanna went for a singular side dish that she was hoping to elevate to main course status – her inspiration being American Thanksgiving, in specific the sweet potatoes that they serve alongside their meal. She was adding a hint of luxury to the dish with some King Oyster Mushrooms and Truffle Oil as well as calling it “a stack”
it would have benefitted her to have another component that she could have layered between the mashed sweet potato because it is kind of just moulded sweet potato mash with some very herby breadcrumbs, which John complained made the whole thing taste like he was eating Christmas Stuffing and I personally don’t see the issue with that as I fully believe Christmas Stuffing should be eaten all year round. But the dish wasn’t a complete wash out, because her cornbread is deemed “the best I’ve ever tasted” by Grace Dent
which is no small compliment and I hope her family look forward to being served it every single day for the next several months, because I would do that if something I made was praised that highly.
If I had to do this challenge I think I would have gone a similar route to Sarah and created some sort of a potato cake breakfast dish. In her case she was trying to turn Bubble and Squeak into something a little more special – mostly by pouring a Marcus Wareing amount of butter into it and serving it with a Panko Crumbed Poached Egg
she got a little rushed towards the end and so the presentation wasn’t *perfect* but the Bubble and Squeak Cake was perfectly cooked, her Hollandaise was exactly the right texture AND MY GOD THE EGG
After a series of MasterChef: The Professionals in which everyone seemed to be determined to do the absolute worst things to any egg they saw, it’s nice to see one being treated with the respect it deserves. And the judges were similarly enthused by the tasted and cooking of the dish.
While most of the other contestants concentrated on purely potato dishes, Ally had brought a fillet of beef into the equation – which I did see someone on Twitter call “cheating” – so Ally has been disqualified by The Beef Police on the grounds of Unwarranted Steak, despite having two potato elements on the plate in the form of a Pommes Anna and some matchstick fries which he had used to thatch his beef
Grace was a little concerned by the rareness of the meat – personally I call her WEAK, it would’ve been perfect for me. My favourite thing about the dish though was Gregg praising the plating of the Pommes Anna
just give yourself a pat on the back next time Gregg, it’s fine.
The Pommes Anna are suitably luxurious and buttery while the fries give the necessary texture – it was a return to form for Ally, we shall forgive the Pork’n’Pudding, but I shall never forget it.
Lastly we come to Holly, who was going BIG with a dessert option
her unwanted dessert being sweet potato doughnuts she had dubbed “Spuddy Nuts”, which has distinct M&S “Santa’s YumNuts” energy and I appreciated it. The Spuddy Nuts were filled with a creme pat flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg and topped with a brittle made from the potato skins and flavoured with rosemary and sea salt
it’s a delightfully insane sounding dish and I was very worried for her because if she gets eliminated then who’s going to be giving us Drag Race quality talking heads?
sorry India Fisher, but Holly is The Narrator of the Series now.
Fortunately everyone loves the Spuddy Nuts, even with their stodgy texture and it certainly is one of the most original dishes we’ve seen on the show and definitely one of the dishes that I’m very eager to try for myself.
A Potato Dish Ranking
- Holly’s Spuddy Nuts
- Ally on Beef Parole
- Sarah’s Rushed Brunch
- Joanna’s Accidental End of March Christmas Stuffing
- Tigi’s Amalgamation of Side Dishes
- Leon’s Potato OnlyFans
We did have to lose two cooks ahead of the quarterfinal with the two unfortunately being the beaming ball of joy that is Leon and iconic quotes machine, Joanna
Again, I’ve really enjoyed this group of cooks and I would’ve been sad to see anyone go, but I’ve particularly enjoyed Leon’s border collie-style enthusiasm for doing anything and I will always champion someone like Joanna who is incredibly proud of their food heritage and ready to showcase it to the best of their ability, so if you want to follow either of them on instagram you can see Leon at CookWith_Leon and Joanna at GreekyGirlEats.
And so Holly, Tigi, Sarah and Ally go on to the second of our quarterfinals!
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