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Chopped Review: A Chopped Thanksgiving

As we enter the season of holiday madness, this week’s episode of Chopped asked all of the contestants to create Thanksgiving recipes using Thanksgiving-themed ingredients.

Yet while all of these chefs are familiar with Thanksgiving foods, not all of them found it so easy to incorporate pre-made green bean casserole or giblet gravy into gourmet dishes.

The Contestants:
Fiore, Sous chef
Ruth, Personal chef
Dustin, Executive chef
Nick, Chef/restaurant owner

This Week’s Judges: Chris Santos, Maneet Chauhan, and Geoffrey Zakarian.

Chopped pic

The Appetizer Round

The chefs had 20 minutes to create an appetizer using turkey sausage, rutabaga, green bean casserole, and honey-baked ham.

For this appetizer round, hash was the name of the game (though I have personally never seen hash on any appetizer menu). Ruth’s breakfast-style hash was a hit with the judges, if mostly for her inclusion of the fried egg on top, though they were disappointed with her use of the ham.

Fiore created a delicious Rutabaga Puree, but the rest of his dish felt like a random mash-up of leftovers, not a restaurant-quality dish. Dustin, on the other hand, demonstrated great flavors with every element of his dish, but was not particularly strategic with his plating.  It was Nick’s messy, illogical plating, and poor execution, however, that, not surprisingly, sent him to the chopping block.

The Dinner Round

The contestants had 30 minutes to create an entrée containing a whole turkey, Brussels sprouts, giblet gravy, and pumpkin pie ice cream.

This is a Thanksgiving episode, so of course we needed a round full of turkey recipes! Dustin put forth the most effort with by brining his turkey breast, giving it great moisture and flavor. He should have, however, put forth some extra effort and taken a few extra moments to grab a new, clean pan after burning his bacon instead of ruining his Brussels sprouts by cooking them in the burnt grease. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ruth’s side dishes shined while her turkey was dry and disappointing.

Fiore’s Brussels sprout recipe received the best reviews from the judges, putting the last nail in Dustin’s burnt-sprout coffin.

The Dessert Round

The two remaining contestants had 30 minutes to create a dessert using butternut squash soup, fennel, orange cranberry muffins, and tofu turkey.

Had this round come down to who best transformed their tofu turkey, Fiore would have been the clear winner. Instead, the judges took into account details like a lack of starch on Fiore’s entrée plate and rolling the pastry for his Fried Apple Pies too thick.

Ruth, however, was creative with all of her dishes, including her Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding Cake, and it earned her the title of Chopped Champion and the $10,000 prize, making for a very happy Thanksgiving at her house.