This Top Chef Masters episode focused on “Wedding Wars” — in which two teams of chefs have about 24 hours to cater for an entire wedding. With our own wedding rapidly approaching, we learned many valuable lessons during this show.
Lesson One: If you are excited about a recipe and want your caterer to use it for your wedding, do not trust Chad the Bravo intern. K and I wanted to make the succulent-looking lamb, farro and roasted vegetables made by Jody Adams. The Bravo recipe simply explained how to roast lamb. No mention of farro or vegetables.
That would be why we went with chef “Obi Wan” Jonathan Waxman’s roast chicken with tarragon veloute and cauliflower puree (recipe here). However, we are infinitely glad we did. Pressed for time, we cheated a bit and went with a really good prepared chicken stock (not broth) instead of making our own. We did roast the whole chicken, but cut it into pieces so it would cook faster.
A simple seasoning of salt, pepper and olive oil was all it took to make the chicken moist, juicy and tender … well, most of it. The thinner pieces got slightly dried out while we waited for the thicker pieces to get to the USDA-recommended 165 degrees internally. We have subsequently learned 165 degrees is probably not necessary and your chicken will be juicier if you throw caution to the wind and go with 160 or even 150ish degrees.
While the bird roasted, we boiled the stock with some carrot and onion to simulate the homemade taste then popped the fresh tarragon and butter in. We also boiled the potato and cauliflower. After draining the veggies, a quick little shot of cream was all it took to create a smooth and delicious puree.
As you can see below, the chicken was crispy and juicy and the cauliflower smooth and savory delicious. The veloute (a fancy word for sauce) was mildly buttery and had a lovely tarragon flavor.
The Top Chef wedding, however, was not nearly as classy as our dinner. Lesson two: Do not hire chef Susan Feniger to create your wedding cake unless you want a dry, sloppy, falling-apart mess.
Lesson three: If you are a Beverly Hills bride with implants, do not wear a low-cut dress with spaghetti straps or your wedding will end up as part of a “nip slip” montage someday. One of her friendly bridesmaids should have told her the dress was not even appropriate for a Saturday night clubbing, not to mention her own wedding broadcast on national TV.
Lessons learned. No lamb and farro for us, perhaps roast chicken with tarragon veloute and cauliflower puree at our reception instead. And I definitely won’t look for my dress at Victoria’s Secret.
P.S. Make this roast chicken recipe. It’s easy, family time comfort food and you’ll want to put it into your regular recipe rotation. Waxman does it again and he’s our favorite to win!