Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cooking With Top Chef 2.10.10

Jenn Murphy of Sweet Water keeps on trying out recipes from Season Six of Top Chef. Here are two more delectable dishes:

This is my first attempt at one of Brian V.'s dishes. It was also the elimination challenge winner from the fifth episode.

I had high hopes for it even though I'm not a super-huge pork chop fan (pork chop makes me think dry and lacking in flavour.)

I'm also not a big fan of dandelion greens (too bitter)....or rutabaga (a staple in Newfie boiled dinner and therefore forever tainted in my mind) for that matter.

I do love me some polenta though!

The fact that I am not enamored of the main ingredients in this dish is actually what drew me to it. I wanted to be challenged to open myself up to flavours that I typically wouldn't consider cooking or ordering on a menu.

The verdict?

Pork loin? It was moist, tender and yummy. Marinating the loin cut for an hour before hand definitely gave it a texture that I hadn't experienced before.

Dandelion greens? Still overwhelmingly bitter...until combined with the polenta and the pork. Then the bitterness was neutralized and I enjoyed the combination.

Rutabaga? Time to give the turnip a second chance, I say. Also, my love of braised veggies is once more re-affirmed.

Polenta? Always a winner. I'd never had it with mascarpone before. It certainly won't be the last time though.

As a whole dish I have to say this may have been my least favourite so far.

Don't get me wrong, it was good. It just didn't excite me or inspire me in any way. I am reminded of the judges suggesting a kind of safety on Brian's part. I can see it in this dish. It felt safe and standard - good but not special.

Roasted Pork Loin with Polenta, Dandelion and Rutabaga

3 5 oz. center portion pork loin steaks


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp crushed cumin seeds
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic sliced
6 sprigs thyme
1/2 shallot sliced
sea salt


2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup dry polenta
1/8 cup mascarpone
1 tbsp unsalted butter


1 bunch dandelion greens
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/8 cup red onion diced
1/2 cup oyster mushrooms


2 rutabaga cut into pieces 1/2 inch high and 1 inch diameter
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

Pork Marinade:
Mix together marinade. Pour over pork chops and marinate covered in fridge for 1 hour.

While pork is marinating heat chicken stock, vinegar, sherry and honey until forms glaze. Add in butter. Add in rutabaga and cook until tender (about 30 mins).

Remove pork from marinade and dry thoroughly with paper towel. Sear pork on stove top until medium to medium rare. Baste pork with butter, rosemary and garlic. Let rest. Roast oyster mushrooms in pan with pork fat until browned. Reserve for plating.

Heat whole milk to simmer and pour in polenta. Stir constantly for 10-15 mins until desired consistency is reached. Add in mascarpone and butter. Season with s&p.

In small saute pan heat butter to a froth. Add in red onion and cook until translucent. Add dandelion and lemon zest. Cook until braised.

To serve:
Spoon polenta on to plate. Dandelion greens and mushrooms on top. Sliced pork on top of that. Rutabaga on the side.

I love a good lettuce wrap. And this one was definitely not a disappointment. I loved every bite of it.

Once again I found myself questioning some of the individual components of the dish (specifically the glaze for the pork) but when everything came together it was perfection.

I should really just suck it up, admit that my palate is inferior and stop questioning the professionals!

Michael's recipe called for smoked slab bacon which, damn small town shopping, I could not find on that particular day, so I used a piece of smoked pork shoulder instead. Yummy!

The crushed peanuts with cayenne and ginger were a delicious topping. I'm not a big fan of ginger but paired with the cayenne it was created a beautiful boost to the roasted peanut flavour.

I ate so many of these wraps! I love a dish you can just put out and allow people to put together as they choose. It's definitely one I will be keeping in my reserves.

Without further ado I give you:

Braised Pork with Soy Mustard Sauce and Peanuts
(adapted from Michael Votaggio's Top Chef recipe on

1 1/2 lb. piece smoked pork shoulder
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 onion sliced
1 carrot diced
2 sticks celery chopped
3/4 gallon water
1/2 quart soy sauce
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1/8 cup yellow mustard
1/8 cup ginger powder
1/2 cup roasted peanuts crushed
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 head romaine lettuce
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup Indian style mango chutney

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Score the skin of the pork shoulder creating cross cuts along the surface. Heat sesame oil in large, deep oven safe dish or pot. Sear the pork skin side down in sesame oil until browned. Flip pork over and add vegetables to pot. Add water and 1/2 the amount of powdered ginger. Cover with foil and place in oven for 2 hours. While pork is cooking mix soy sauce, mustards, honey, mango chutney, remaining powdered ginger and 1/2 quart water. Bring to simmer and allow to reduce for 20 minutes. Add cornstarch and water mixture a little at a time to thicken liquid to a glaze. When pork has cooked, remove from braising liquid and brush with glaze. Slice pork into thin pieces. Mix crushed peanuts with cayenne and ginger powder to taste. Separate leaves of romaine.

To Eat
Place slices of pork in romaine leaf. Spoon more glaze over top. Sprinkle peanuts on top.

I served everything as pictured, with a bowl of the glaze on the side to add as wanted. Casual, delicious dining.

If you've been cooking up some delectable dishes with Top Chef recipes, we'd love if you shared them with us. If you're interested in doing so, please drop us a line at


Cyberman said...

Have you ever seen somebody lick the chutney spoon in an Indian Restaurant and put it back? This would never have happened under the Tories.

theminx said...

Hey Cyberman (Dr Who fan?) - no I've never seen such an abominable thing happen, but Indian restaurants in the States tend to serve a fresh selection of chutnies per table, so only one's dining companions are affected by such bad manners.