MasterChef 2022, Episode 14: Designated Nettles

Ah yes, the constant uncertainty over how many fingers you should hold up.

If you want to know how many different ways you can say “Snickers” without saying “Snickers” then you’re in luck!

Going to Market

We of course start the second episode of the heat with the Market Challenge, which does immediately put Angela on a backfoot because she hasn’t been near a Tesco since she found out you can get everything you need from the sides of the M62 if you’re patient enough. The producers were kind to her and did leave a bundle of nettles in there that practically had “For Angela” written on them, so she snapped those up to make a Nettle and Potato Curry that she was serving with Courgette Fritters, Flatbread and a Garlic Yoghurt

it’s a fair amount of work to have achieved in the time, and she may have been better off simplifying a little bit considering that her fritters were caught and her flatbreads were under. But the spicing of the curry is really good, if slightly masking the nettle flavour – the same couldn’t quite be said for the garlic yogurt which was so garlicky that it at least confirmed that John isn’t a vampire – he looks just enough like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen for it to be a risk. But John really couldn’t get on board with the fritters either, which he calls “stodgy” and so now Angela has to go home and conduct a thorough investigation into whether her children have been lying about liking the fritters the whole time

She’s playing bad cop tonight!

While Angela ran off with her designated nettles, Martin wasn’t having quite such an easy time getting his ingredients as he initially wanted the steak that was on offer, however apparently there was only enough for 1 person and Mark got there first. So he was left to fight a losing battle against a Sea Bream

which I was worried wouldn’t bode well for him, considering last week’s 2 John Dory Pile-up and he wasn’t making things any easier for himself by serving his sea bream with a fondant potato

but things went better for him than they did in the 7 person pantry brawl, as he whipped up a perfectly pleasant plate of Pan-fried Sea Bream, Shallots and Spinach and the dun duh-dun dun DAAAAAH! Potato Fondant

the cooking of his fish is *very* good with the skin being visibly crispy and his potatoes were beautifully soft – the only real detractor from the dish was the fact his mayonnaise was pourable which may or may not influence later mayonnaise-based decisions… I say the Mayonnaise was the only detractor but Gregg described the middle of the potato as “flesh” and I really don’t appreciate that.

As for what Mark was doing with Martin’s Lost Bavette Steak, he was going for an Argentinian dish by serving his steak covered in a Chimichurri Sauce accompanied by a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber and red currants as well as anchovy fritters

the risk with the steak was that if undercooked it would be chewy and John was going to make sure that Mark knew it was chewy by making unbreakable eye contact with him while he chewed it like Violet Beauregarde going for a new world record

the steak was pretty rare, apparently it should always be medium but Mark hadn’t helped matters by, much like me in every woodworking class until I was actively banned from using a saw, had cut it against the grain. And while yes, that might be a crime against every Parrillero in all of Argentina, I don’t think he got enough credit for making actual pickles

and one should always be thankful for a pickle.

None of the market proteins were as big a sand trap as last week’s array of Crabs, John Dory and That Damned Rabbit™ – except for the small pile of oysters

which naturally Farokh was drawn to – and while for most people this would probably have ended in them crashing and burning, Farokh was going to not only cook them, but also write the next Great British Novel through the medium of oysters alone – The Bronte Sisters COULD NEVER. Basically he was serving Oysters 4 ways, with each oyster representing a different season

the first oysters being a mix of hot and cold with pickled shallots and a baked cucumber heart

the second being topped off with a cucumber and chamomile granita

the third one being tempura’d

and the final one being smoked and preserved in oil to represent the months of the years you cannot eat them

it’s all very New Moon: Bella’s Depression Era

except Farokh’s plate of oysters were somehow less cold, wet and lifeless.

It’s a really good concept and very well executed – I really could see Farokh doing very well on The Great British Menu, he does that style of theatrical high concept food incredibly well. I find him to be a thoroughly wonderful culinary force, and just incredibly charming – everything he says is in the exact cadence of Paddington Bear discovering marmalade sandwiches for the first time, I find it endlessly entertaining.

Dean also went pretty risky with his choice of pigeon given that he would have to prepare it himself and contend with John asking him if he was currently knuckled deep in a pigeon’s butt

NOT. THE. TIME. TORODE.

Which is probably why at a certain point Dean was absolutely, under no circumstances going to be making eye contact with the pigeon

hey, we’ve all had that Tind- [NO ARIADNE YOUR MOTHER READS THIS.]

Luckily Dean had prepared pigeon before and his filleting of the birds was very well done, with all four breasts being about the same size

from there was going to be serving them teriyaki’d, which everyone seemed to act like was some big risk and didn’t know if “teriyaki pigeon” would work – I don’t really see why it wouldn’t considering duck and chicken both get teriyaki’d on the regular – and what is a pigeon if not the mid-point of a duck and chicken? I don’t know, I failed GCSE biology, I’m sure you couldn’t tell

it all tastes very good – I’m not sure I would have called two (2) pigeon breasts on some mushrooms and bok choy a complete dish – some sort of rice or noodles wouldn’t have gone amiss. But it was at least all a bit tasty, although John did call the Bok Choy “a flavour thief” because it was too watery which sounds like slander to me.

The last of the savoury dishes comes from Hannah who was setting herself a big task by deciding to make pasta – luckily she wasn’t serving it with the world’s most cursed Bolognese Sauce and was instead keeping it relatively simple with her Mushroom Cappelletti being accompanied by a Jerusalem Artichoke Puree and some fried girolles and cavolo nero as well as some shaved truffle because somebody had to use it

it’s a divine looking dish and both John and Gregg rave about it, particularly her pasta making ability – and it’s nice to see a new pasta shape on the scene, there’s only so many times I can take seeing ravioli and tortellini or the occasion linguine.

Lastly we have Radha who was making a dessert – quite why when she has previously mentioned she hasn’t had much experience in the dessert making department, I don’t know. But at least she was going relatively simple by trying her best to make an apple crumble through the power of inductive reasoning alone – she’s the Sherlock of desserts. This did unfortunately mean that she was deconstructing the apple crumble, not that John Torode was going to use the word

somewhere along the line Radha did seem to realise that deconstructing the apple crumble was probably a one way trip to Outsiville and made like Richard Anderson in The Six Million Dollar Man

sure the plating up is a little bit of a brainfart, but I liked the addition of the port infused blackberries and the walnut brittle to at least elevate it beyond just being an apple crumble and adding some level of sophistication to the dish. And John and Gregg seemed at least happy with the flavours – you would have to do something pretty majorly odd to mess up apple, cinnamon and sugar though.

A Market Challenge Ranking

  1. Farokh’s Oyster Saga
  2. New Pasta Shapes with Hannah
  3. Dean’s “Experimental” Pigeon
  4. Martin’s Well-handled Slippery Fish
  5. Radha’s Six Million Dollar Apple Crumble
  6. Mark’s Well-chewed Steak
  7. Angela’s Familial Betrayal

It was pretty close between Mark and Angela as to who was going to be eliminated but ultimately I think Mark had slightly more successes in his dish, so we did have to say goodbye to Angela

it’s always sad to lose someone who was genuinely bringing new and interesting ideas so early in the competition – and while I do usually roll my eyes at a forager, something about the way Angela talked about it and implemented it in her dishes never felt affected and I think came across as very genuine and sincere – which makes a change from the men who pick one Chanterelle and think they’re Bear Grylls.

Guilty As Charged!

For their last bid at a place in the quarterfinals, the remaining contestants were set a brief by William Sitwell in which they had to reimagine a guilty pleasure, but specifically a guilty pleasure from a brand so everyone had to spend half an hour awkwardly tiptoeing around saying identifiable brand names except for the allocated one (1) time they were allowed to say it.

It’s a brief that almost explicitly asks for you to do your own take on the Big Mac and I was shocked, SHOCKED I TELLS YAH, SHOCKED! that only Hannah was going down that route and very much almost scientifically tearing the very fabric of the McDonald’s Menu apart and reconstructing it into an almost sci-fi canteen menu

the burger was replaced by a piece of fillet steak and the bun had been reduced to but a wafer thin piece of flatbread – luckily she kept the insanely delicious chips that she could honestly just open her own food truck selling and I would indeed trek whatever distance to have them

but only if she also offers the tempura gherkins which should be worth their weight in gold. And despite all this, Gregg was particularly excited about the fact that Hannah seemed to have somehow created American Government Cheese™, which I do believe might mean she broke international law

and while Gregg enthused about her cheese and William Sitwell was forced to compliment her grilled lettuce (why must people continue to lie about grilled lettuce?) John Torode was particularly (and pointedly, Martin…) excited about her burger sauce, because if you thought it was easy to make a burger sauce, Professor Torode of Burger Condiments 101 is here to tell you otherwise

Oh? So you know the exact formula for rocket fuel?

Girls don’t want rocket science, girls want secret sauce recipes.

Hannah’s burgerpponent was Martin who was making his take on the Filet-o-Fish which does not get the respect it deserves and every time someone publishes an article asking why the Filet-o-Fish is still on the McDonald’s menu I buy another one. I was really interested in Martin’s burger, and I thought the Coca Bread (a Jamaican bread made with coconut milk) looked really interesting

Unfortunately for Martin, William was rather overfaced by the size of his girthy sandwich and was also particularly rude about Martin’s chips which he described as “limp, pale and inedible.” which seems harsh – I didn’t think they looked *that* bad – but he was having to follow Hannah’s, so that was unfortunate. John however had VERY different issues because Martin had made a Tartare Sauce for his burger and had committed a crime on par with using pre-rolled fondant on Bake Off by using a bottle of mayonnaise

and you could practically see Martin retreat behind his eyes the moment John brought up the bottled mayo

RUN, MARTIN, RUN!

Martin wasn’t the only person having portion issues though because Dean ran out of time in his efforts to, like a mad man, try and make and cook 3 Beef Wellingtons in only 80 minutes – obviously Gregg was the one who didn’t receive his meal

it was a clever idea too, with the dish being inspired by the pies and chips that he and his dad would have at halftime during football matches – and I did love that he had gone to the effort of having the trays and the Gregg Wallace photoshop done – the 5p really gives away the 80sness of it all

but I really don’t know what possessed him to make three wellingtons and not 1 medium sized one to chop up 3 ways – especially considering that these were still rather sizeable and he really had to wrestle them into their boxes

but while his pastry was a little soggy and his beef cold on the middle – his Duck Fat Chips were at least pretty banging but it still wasn’t quite the success he was hoping for

you set yourself up for that one Dean.

The last of the savoury dishes comes from Farokh who was inspired by Supermarket Own Brand Prawn Crackers and Sweet Chilli Sauce. These Critics Challenges were practically made for Farokh – and I’m sure William must have been excited when he’d been told about Farokh’s Homeric Oyster Saga considering his expectations coming in were “coke in a chicken”?

where did he see this and how do we go back in time to stop whoever did it?

Farokh’s reimagining mostly involved making big prawn crackers to accompany a Prawn Broth in which sat a Prawn Dumpling filled with Cream Cheese

as they said – the abstraction of the dish got a little away from Farokh and he had kind of overthought it to the point of it not really being recognisable as to what it was originally meant to be – other than the potential guilt felt whenever you read a Lovecraft novel. But it was still a very good dish and the cream cheese dumpling was rather fascinating, in both its idea and how it almost completely changes the dish once you burst it and mix everything together.

The first of the desserts was from Radha whose guilty pleasure is an Offseason Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which William and Gregg wasted no time in telling her they both hated and she had a bit of an existential crisis and the tender age of 23

what she did really well with this dish was keeping the chocolate and the orange elements separate – so she had a Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Sauce, Chocolate Soil with an Orange Sorbet and an Orange Liqueur Chantilly Cream which was being shoved in a Kumquat for some reason

apparently the kumquat containers were a hit though – and the dish pleases everyone – bit sus that she’s now made 3 desserts to 1 savoury dish when she doesn’t ordinarily make desserts…

everyone keep an eye on the vents.

And the last dish of course comes from Mark who was taking his inspiration from a Snickers which was referred to as “That Famous Bar” and “That Peanut Bar” and something about the weirdly accusatory “thats” of it all was very funny to me – like it was a chocolate bar that was committing petty crimes. After his slight misstep in the previous round, Mark did have a little bit of a ground to catch up and was going for broke with his Chocolate Mousse housed inside a chocolate sphere that would be melted away with the obligatory Miso Caramel Sauce

the fact he managed to make the spheres alone is an accomplishment – especially under the studio lights – but the melting of the shells thankfully also worked

and I’m not sure anything brought me as much joy during this episode as Mark’s face when he realised it had all worked

there was no need for an emergency That Famous Peanut Bar after this as it goes down a storm with the judges and they really couldn’t praise it any higher than they did.

A Trademarked Guilty Pleasure Ranking

  1. Mark’s Melting Famous Peanut Bar
  2. Hannah’s Scientifically Dissected Big Mac
  3. Radha’s Offseason Chocolate Orange
  4. Farokh’s Lovecraftian Prawn Stew
  5. Martin By Virtue of Dean Not Finishing
  6. Dean’s 2 Portions of Cold Football Wellington

Dean not finishing and Martin invoking the Hellmann’s Curse made the judges decision pretty easy this week and both of them are unsurprisingly eliminated despite starting off incredibly strongly in the competition

which does mean that this week’s quarterfinalists are Radha, Hannah, Farokh and Mark – which is a strong group of contestants and will be a nailbiting episode in like 50 minutes – I’m so sorry this was all a bit late, I was trapped on the A17 for a good chunk of the morning.

And if you’ve enjoyed this recap of the final heat of MasterChef 2022 and would like to support the blog you can donate to my Ko-fi account HERE!

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