New season of Top Chef, new people to cheer and jeer. Game on. During the first episode of Top Chef D.C. the Quickfire Challenge was to prep food quickly — de-boning chicken, chopping onion, peeling potatoes, etc. The four quickest prep cooks, got to use their ingredients to make a dish. Our favorite so far? Kenny who plowed through food prep faster than anyone I’ve ever seen. Also, he looks like Chef from South Park and K thinks it would be super awesome if he made Salisbury Steak for a challenge. I concur. Our winner for the Biggest Egomaniacal Ass award? Angelo. Though, it appears his attitude is grounded in reality as he’s a Michelin-starred chef and hey … dude can clearly cook. Regardless, it only took about 20 minutes for K to declare he really, really didn’t like the guy.
Despite that, we chose to make Angelo’s Roasted Chicken, Potato “Noodles” and Curry Onion Jam (recipe here) because it was the winning recipe and also because they’ve moved Top Chef an hour earlier because of some stupid art show so we can’t really take two hours to make a complicated dinner anymore.
In true Top Chef foreshadowing style, I’ll tell you that I picked up chicken thighs but not the vegetable stock the recipe calls for because I had chicken stock in the pantry at home. However, when going through the pantry, I realized it was beef stock which would have overpowered the potato “noodles” it was meant to complement. I had an open container of chicken stock in the refrigerator but I couldn’t remember how long it had been there. I smelled it. It smelled okay. When I got to K’s place, I had him smell it. He thought it smelled fine. (This, by the way, is my favorite conversation starter: “Smell this. Does this smell bad?” People love that.) That settled, we were on the way.
We marinated the chicken thighs in some oil and lots of cumin and K started the curry onion jam. As he chopped onions and simmered rice wine vinegar, I peeled potatoes. K swiped them over the mandoline to julienne them and I chucked the “noodles” in the pan with the butter.
Then I was supposed to “glaze” them with the stock. But I smelled the stock one last time and it no longer smelled okay to me. In fact, it smelled very bad. I weighed the options — use water and salt to make up for the taste or give us both food poisoning — and decided to toss the chicken stock. K didn’t think the salted water would cut it so he found a package of flavored chicken broth-like powder in a package of Japanese noodles he had and we used that instead. This was entirely my fault and I can’t even blame it on the poor recipe transcribing skills of Chad the Bravo intern! In the future, I will pay closer attention to what I *actually* have in the pantry.
In any case, the chicken I’d started sautéing just a few minutes earlier was crispy and done, the curry onion jam had solidified and smelled rockin’ and the potato “noodles” did not look like noodles, but kind of a pile of mushy potato strings. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to simmer potatoes and “glaze” them without undercooking or, instead, releasing the starch thus making them gummy. I tasted them, they were done and weren’t bad even though their lack of noodleocity visually offended the designer in K.
He composed the plate and we ate some seriously awesome and flavorful chicken and curry onion jam that was piquant with a little bite of savory curry. The potato noodles were, predictably, forgettable, but the meal in its entirety was great. Want a quick chicken dish that you’ll come back to over and over again? This is that dish. Skip the potato “noodles” and make rice or something and you’ll have dinner ready in no time. And don’t ask me to smell anything from your refrigerator, I’m sure it smells bad. Just throw it away.