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Top Chef Season 4


KristiB50
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Overmixing in my experience is a problem with meatloaf and hamburger. When the ground meat is thoroughly homogenized it becomes quite dense when cooked(eg my mother's hockey puck hamburgers). Meatloaf avoids this a bit if lots of bread is added.

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I have a recipe in one of my Japanese cookbooks for Japanese hanbaaga that calls for the meat to be worked just as Richard was doing in this episode (does that sound too - nevermind :biggrin: ). The author states that it helps hold the patty together. When I made it, it didn't seem too dry, but then I used a mixture of pork and beef which was fairly fatty to begin with. The recipe also calls for panko, which might have helped.

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As I see from a food perspective, "tailgating" has nothing more to do with sports (and whether you like them/have played them/have watched them) than any other BBQ. You are cooking outside for people who need convenient food that travels well. FFS, it isn't even that different from the "High Rollers Challenge" (or Poker Players or whatever that was).

Easy to eat, non-fussy food. Preferably no forks. Nothing soggy from steaming. It has been the same challenge, over and over again. Boring, and they don't get it.

I suppose one could argue that a "tailgate" party has nothing whatsoever to do with sports-it's more of a gathering of people to eat, drink and soak up the party atmosphere that surrounds the event.

But I think that there is a correlation between understanding the challenge and how you carry it out in the context of the food you present. I think Ryan's lack of interest in sports, and football in particular, showed he was totally unfamiliar with the concept of the tailgate party. That seems to me to be a direct link to the failures of the food he presented. But even if we give him a pass on that issue, he still didn't think, or care to think, about putting forth a decent dish.

Had Ryan grasped the concept of a "tailgate" party, he might have turned a messy bread salad into a delicious marinated chicken with bread salad on a quality bread roll. Unique, flavorful and a nice small bite that fit within the context of a tailgate party challenge and a dish the guests would have expected from a Top Chef.

I've been a football fan my entire life and I've been going to tailgate parties at college football games for going on 40 some years now. Based on my own experiences, a tailgate party can be much more than just your average backyward BBQ. Sure, a tailgate party is a mass of people who are just there for the food and booze-and some could care less about the football game. However, you could make a strong case for arguing that a tailgate party is actually a local food event that is a portrait of the foods from a particular region. It just happens to be a food event that is staged at a sports venue.

I'm a graduate of Oregon State, a member of the Pac-10 Conference. Oregon State is located in the Willamette Valley, about an hour drive South of Portland.

You'll regularly see regional foods served at a tailgate party during home football games in Corvallis-things like barbecued salmon, steamed dungeness crab and all sorts of local berries, like Marionberries and Loganberries, used in desserts.

There's plenty of Budweiser and Hillshire Sausages to go around-but there's also a lot of seasonal, locally-produced foods.

I've never been to a tailgate party down South, but I've seen lots of images of what y'all cook at an SEC, (Southeast Conference), tailgate party. Imagine the wonderful food you would see displayed at a tailgate party at a home game in Baton Rouge, the home of the LSU Tigers. My guess is that there would be lots of gumbos, jambalayas and maybe even some fried alligator nuggets.

For some, a tailgate party is just an excuse to eat and drink to excess on a Saturday morning. But for others, it can be a wonderful experience to enjoy local dishes in a communal setting. Isn't it too bad that some of the "Top Chef's" didn't recognize that fact?

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Regarding 'overmixing', please see this thread about making charcuterie from Ruhlman's book 'Charcuterie'. What too many pages to leaf through? :smile: Want the quiock answer? Well ok, since it is OT I'll make it short.

When making charcuterie like sausage or pate,both with high fat content, you want to first season the meat, then grind the meat (keep it cold), and then you want to mix the hell out of it to develop the Myosin in the meat. In the book Ruhlman actually encourages you to use a mixer's paddle to 'knead' the meat for a few minutes before stuffing it in casings or putting it in a terrine. I have no stand mixer, so I knead it vigorously until I see the myosin filaments (kinda hairy) starting to develop, it takes a minute or 2. Myosin is similar to Gluten and yes, the meat is kneaded in the same way to have a cohesive emulsified mass with strong -not crumbly- texture. With a pate you cook it in a lowish oven in a water bath, gentle heat. For sausage you also need to be gentle when cooking it. Heat it too fast and you get a puddle of fat and dry separate mass of protein. For a terrine, you weigh it with a heavy brick AFTER it is cooked and this compacts it even further. That is why he was beating the meat, he was actually kneading it to make a pate.

With burgers, that are much leaner you do not want to overwork the Myosin or you will get rubber pucks. You want a semi loose and crumbly patty to cook fast and rare. With meatballs and meatloaf, bread crumbs mediate the problem and make a tender , not rubbery, end product.

edit: some typos.

Edited by FoodMan (log)

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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As a rugby player, the sitting in the bathtub scene was just wrong! Moreso given he was with Mr. Hatwanker. Antonio on the otherhand would be a perfectly acceptable choice to take a bath with....

Tom C needs to lose the soul patch and Beret. I am surprised he made it out alive.

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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John Kessler's 4/21 interview with Richard Blais -- and I thought all contestants were locked away in a freezer until the finale. Don't worry, there are no spoilers:

While Blais is forbidden from discussing future shows (during his interview, a publicist is on the line waiting to cut him off should he let something slip), he can share some other news.

Blais shows Atlanta has Top Chef

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Regarding "overworking" the meat: There's a terrific eGullet foodblog from Anna N in 2004 where she describes making a particular sort of Danish meatballs that involve lots of beating of the mixture, which does contain breadcrumbs and loads of cream. Link to the thread, with the recipe Here. I was motivated by her description and the recipe enough to make a batch of the meatballs myself, though I must admit I used a Kitchenaid for some of the extensive beating, because I'm kind of lazy. The meatballs were delicious, and the texture was similar to a pate.

I spoke to Chef Blais recently and mentioned the discussion on this thread of his technique, and he seemed really surprised that people would fixate on such a short clip - really just a few seconds show him throwing a meat patty against the pan - and go on to dissect exactly what he was doing. He indicated that he has been reading the discussions here and elsewhere, but I'm pretty sure he's not responding in order to keep in line with his contractual obligations.

Well, that and I'm sure he's pretty busy with the new restaurant opening this week, of course.

This is my first season watching Top Chef, but I've really been enjoying it, and this thread has added to my enjoyment, because some of the people here notice things that I don't notice while viewing the show. It's been fun rooting for Richard, and very gratifying to see that his talents are appreciated on a national stage.

I can't wait to see who gets kicked off tonight. :wink:

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In response to David Ross's recent note, I have been to many an LSU tailgate and  can't imagine that anything else compares.  It's foodie heaven.

Thank you for confirming my assumptions about how delicious a tailgate party can be. We eat pretty good out West in the Pac-10, but I doubt we can compare to the tailgate spreads at your 90,000+ seat stadium. Now if we hadn't missed those field goals a few years back down on the bayou.........

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Hi, David! USC hasn't been to LSU lately (but wouldn't that be a matchup?), so I'm wondering where you're from?

In all seriousness, LSU tailgaters bring it hard. The planning is almost militaristic in the assignment of tasks, timing, and preparation, including transit, parking, and on-site creation. Turkey fryers, grills, smokers, crawfish boils, kegs, you name it! Even visitors are welcome because folks are so proud to show off...until the game gets going, of course!

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Hi, David!  USC hasn't been to LSU lately (but wouldn't that be a matchup?), so I'm wondering where you're from? 

In all seriousness, LSU tailgaters bring it hard.  The planning is almost militaristic in the assignment of tasks, timing, and preparation, including transit, parking, and on-site creation.  Turkey fryers, grills, smokers, crawfish boils, kegs, you name it!  Even visitors are welcome because folks are so proud to show off...until the game gets going, of course!

A little off topic here, but while I'm waiting for this week's "Improv" episode of Top Chef, (something about pastry and comedy in Chicago), I'll share a bit more on tailgating.

Read up a few bars and you'll see my admission-I'm an Oregon State Beaver. That's almost embarassing to admit to a USC Trojan. At least it used to be when SC was regularly beating us by skads of points. A few years back, Oregon State went to Baton Rouge to play the #1 ranked LSU Tigers. It was predicted we would be embarassed and become the laughing stock of college football nation. We came within one barely missed field goal of upsetting the Tigers in overtime.

One of my ultimate food dreams is to eat my way through a season-long tour of tailgate parties at some of the great American college football stadiums.

Now onward to this week's episode. Comedy (as in Second City Chicago), and Sweets. I am sure we're in for some laughs.....I just don't know if we'll laugh at the chefs or with them.

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Gah. I hope I didn't spoil it for anyone out west, sorry. I will repost later

Edited by handmc (log)

**************************************************

Ah, it's been way too long since I did a butt. - Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

--------------------

One summers evening drunk to hell, I sat there nearly lifeless…Warren

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Gah. I hope I didn't spoil it for anyone out west, sorry. I will repost later

No, no worries from this guy way out West. I've already been reading the dirty little details about the "Improv" episode on the Top Chef site, even though the actual show won't air in my market until 10pm Pacific Time. I couldn't wait. I've been viewing the plates. Looks interesting from what I've seen so far. I'll be interested to see how Richard pulled off Chocolate Ice Cream in a 30-minute Quickfire Challenge.

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Just to wrap up on tailgating and clarify to David, I'm no Trojan...Tiger here! Now that you mention it, I think I remember that Oregon game. Much respect to any non-SEC team that even makes the trip, much less a game of it.

I really liked tonight's ep a lot, but will defer and wait for the more experienced posters to get the ball rolling...I think it was the right result though.

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Great episode until they chose the wrong person to go home.

Jen and Stepanie followed the rules of the game and while their dish wasn't great, they still managed to fulfill their key words - asparagus, turn on, orange. All three were accomplished and with some funny, tongue in cheek humor.

Antonia and Lisa's words were Polish sausage, drunken, and magenta. Did they accomplish any of those words let alone all three like Jen and Stephanie? They choose Chilean sea bass as the main ingredient and a Mexican sausage as their Polish sausage which looked more like a garnish. I really don't know where drunken or magenta came in to play.

So much for a mad Andrew this week. Darn pre-editing monkeys. I'm glad he made a good soup.

Nikki survives another week and Lisa needs an attitude adjustment.

Guest judge was kinda hot

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Do they keep pairing up Richard and Dale so as to avoid having to eliminate either of them? It'll be those two at the end.

I hope it's Richard. (Hi, Richard! :biggrin: ) Indulging in the back and forth with Jennifer was so silly of Dale.

Edited by pax (log)
“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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Great episode until they chose the wrong person to go home.

I'm still at the point in the season where as long as they don't send one of my top four home, I don't much care who goes. I would like to see Stephanie hang on for a little longer, but the rest of this week's losers? Meh. Get rid of all of them at once and let's have some multi-week challenges between people I actually care about :smile:. It would be fun to have Padma say to a group of losers: "Well, you guys were ALL so awful this week that you can ALL pack your knives and go home."

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I went to grad school at South Carolina, and I can attest to the fantastic tailgating in the south. However, LSU fans are known to be in a league of their own. They show up the day before in their purple-and-yellow RVs, and set up camp in the parking lot surrounding the stadium.

South Carolina has its own food traditions, as well, most notably BBQ with a mustard-based sauce, and pimento cheese, or perhaps a regional stew (Brunswick) depending on the weather. Obviously not as renown as cajun or creole cuisine!

---

Back on topic...Blais is en fuego. Can't be stopped so far. I wonder if we will see any of these things at Home (although I can't imagine that the jicama taco fits too well into the Southern theme, but who knows what twist he may come up with). Overall, the desserts were well-executed, not a flat souffle among them.

I didn't know that "layering flavors" meant adding more stock and salt. Thanks, Spike.

I thought that the Polish Sausage team should've gone home, for not even attempting to match what they were given...but the execution of the orange asparagus must've been that bad, and the fish & chorizo must have been actually good.

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I don't understand who they sent home either. It seems the polish sausage not being in the dish means they didn't even follow instructions, therefore should be heading on out the door. So far Richard has my vote to win this thing.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Reading the two blogs available this morning at the TC4 web site, both Gail and Ted warn that chefs in the coming weeks are going to be sent home for the smallest of technicalities, because the overall execution is excellent.

So, one minor problem or slight flaw in execution could send a favorite home...

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I think Jen's dish looked bad and didn't taste good either. And if I hear "I'm doing this for Zoi" once more I'm going to hit someone. I think even though they stuck to the game plan the execution was off. But honestly at this point, as someone above said, I don't care who goes home as my favorites hang around.

Richard and Dale are going to be the 2 to watch, unless they really screw up. I get the impression that that would be unlikely as both have stated numerous times how there's no room for mistakes: they're on guard and cooking well.

All in all this episode was ok, I liked the improv type but some of it was a little ridiculous. This season is rather weak IMHO.

Cheers! :cool:

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