Welcome back to CHOPPED Thursdays!!!
Disclaimer: We did this “Thursday” edition on Friday because of random scheduling conflicts…at least the week is correct. HAHA.
Mel was the chef this week, and it’s now her SECOND time in the CHOPPED kitchen. She was super nervous, because just like last time, I was purchasing her basket again. Admittedly, the first round for her was a little easy, and I know she was expecting something difficult. I figured I would give her a little bit of a challenge, so I chose 2 packages of Pre-Cooked Polenta, 2 Cucumbers, 100% Pomegranate Juice, and 2 Combo Packages of Sweet & Hot Sausage. Total Spent = $23.56.
With the timer set for 30 minutes…Mel sat and stared for about a minute and a half. Not quite sure how she was going to get started, she decided to thoroughly read the polenta package (since she’d never cooked with it before). Then she decided to first tackle the sausage – she took the hot sausage out of the packages pulled the meat out of the casing, and placed it into a hot sautee pan.
Adding some of the Pomegranate Juice, and a chopped onion, she set the sauté pan to cook the sausage.
At this point, I think Chef Mel determined her “Action Plan”. Going into her cabinet, and looking for 4 specific Pyrex dishes, she started to cut the polenta lengthwise.
Once she was done with that, she decided to line her Pyrex baking dishes with Ragu sauce, then a layer of sliced polenta, then a layer of ricotta cheese.
After that, came the pomegranate infused onion and sausage sauté…
If you haven’t figured it out by now, she’s making personalized Lasagnas…VERY creative idea for repurposing the ingredient. **She later told us that she read the “lasagna” part off one of the polenta packages…she probably shouldn’t have told us that – we would have thought it was her idea the whole time!!!** Here she is layering the last layer (some mozzarella cheese on the top).
After the lasagnas go in the oven (with about 12 minutes to spare), she turns her attention to the cucumber (an ingredient she hasn’t touched as of yet). Carefully, methodically, and purposefully (so she can think of what the heck to do), she is peeling the cucumbers.
THEN A STROKE OF GENIUS!!! She decides to take the cucumbers (peeled and cubed), and throw them into the blender…at first they don’t liquify…so she adds some Pomegranate juice and ice to make a perfectly blended Gazpacho shooter. After she poured the gazpacho into individual “shooter” glasses, she decided to top it with some Feta Cheese.
Here’s the Entree: Polenta Lasagna filled with Pomegranate Infused Sausage, served with a Cucumber & Pomegranate Gazpacho “shooter” topped with Feta Cheese.
Here’s some close-ups….
Now…the Judging begins….keep in mind that the full scores will be shared with the group after the final chef presents their dish.
Entree Summary: The Lasagna was an extremely creative way of repurposing the ingredients – especially the polenta. The sausage was great, but there could have been MORE sausage within the lasagna. The Pomegranate unfortunately lost it’s flavor in the lasagna, and we couldn’t detect it. As far as the shooter goes – we think it would have been better highlighted as an “appetizer gazpacho”, and we thought the Feta Cheese was a great touch. As far as both dishes together, it lacked a little cohesiveness, however, each dish on it’s own was fantastic. Mel did a fantastic job with the “curveball” basket she was given. Great job Chef Mel!!
Scoring: Will be determined after the final chef presents his/her dish. STAY TUNED!!!