leave your inhibitions at the door
OK, maybe I was a little off when I talked about Boston not having a strong food identity. In previous episodes, there was a weak or no connection between Boston and challenge themes – dinner at a baseball park, individual matches named after famous battles, cooking for men in uniform. I still don’t think that any of those are unique to Boston and they didn’t mean much in terms of the challenges. But this week’s episode had a couple connections to Boston that actually made sense. This week had a Thanksgiving theme which was appropriate as the first one took place in nearby Plymouth.
I’ve mentioned a few times through the years that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love how it’s all about gratitude, family, and food. Many other holidays can get annoying because they’ve become a pissing match where other people try to prove they are more patriotic or religious than you are.
And, worse yet, we in America have found a way to commercialize everything. Seriously, when did Memorial Day – a day to remember fallen soldiers – become the best day to buy a sofa? Thanksgiving hasn’t gone that way yet, although many money-grubbing, scum-sucking stores and malls are trying to change that. We really need my plan to be adopted.
The chefs had to create a dish that highlights cranberries. Apparently Padma had a little too much fun and needed the cranberry juice for a particularly nasty urinary tract infection.
Just kidding. Though THAT would be a great TV moment.
It was about cranberries, though. The show started out with the contestants having to run into a bog and harvest a crate full of cranberries. The first four to finish got the advantage of choosing from a “high end pantry” with quality ingredients. The other four had to choose from a ghetto table with ground chicken, packaged food, and other not so glamorous stuff. The winner got immunity.
Bottom three: Katsuji, Adam, Stacy
Top three: Dougie, Katie, Mei
Winner: Katie’s cranberry borscht. Yes, cranberry borscht.
The contestants were tasked with making a dish for a traditional Thanksgiving meal at Plymouth Plantation. In this case “traditional” wasn’t turkey, stuffing, and the usual fare. Here, they had to cook using the same equipment and utensils that were used at the time. Ingredients were either local or what the pilgrims brought on the Mayflower.
They split into two groups, but the dishes were individually judged.
Dougie – spit-roasted rabbit with garlic ramps hazelnuts chestnuts & radish
Katsuji – roasted butternut squash with poached lobster, chestnuts, and ancho chile butter
Stacy – ramp-smoked clams with butternut, lobster & ramps
Melissa – roasted parsnips, green beans & zucchini with ramp & onion vinaigrette
Adam – Succcotash with beans, corn, summer squash, wilted spinach & spiced goat milk
Katie – Blueberry stuffing with blue cornmeal cornbread & sautéed lobster
Mei – duck fat roasted cabbage with trout vinaigrette
Gregory – roasted goose, goose confit with green beans & gingered onions
KerriAnn – Seared venison loin with blueberry compote & buttered hazelnuts
Favorites: Doug, Katsuji, Mei
Least Favorites: Stacy, Melissa, Gregory
– Damn!!! Not that I thought Stacy should stay, she definitely deserved to go and it was only a matter of time. But I was all set to start a new drinking game where you do a shot any time Stacy mentioned that she was from Boston. My unofficial count from this episode was 7. That would’ve made for a fun hour.
– Product placement: The Quickfire Challenge had blatant product placement with Ocean Spray cranberry products. But at least it was an integral part of the dishes.
– Product non-placement: I was shocked that they weren’t schlepping around in a Toyota. In past years, it was awful watching them sing the praises of a soulless minivan.
– I think Gregory got a pass this week as his goose was really tough and almost inedible. But I think they let him slide on the basis of his past performance.
– I was utterly confused on the ingredients throughout the show. Katsuji’s dish used ancho chile, which I didn’t think they had at the first Thanksgiving. Stacy used ramps, which is available in spring and loses its foliage in June. Yet, they were harvesting cranberries which happens in October.
– They made a big deal about Melissa not having a protein in her dish, but neither did Adam. And Mei only used meat to flavor the dish, not the meat per se.
– They had mentioned, almost derogatively, that all the pots and pans used in the elimination challenge were cast iron. I’m not sure how that’s a bad thing, because I absolutely love cooking with cast iron and other “old-fashioned” pans. I just picked this beaut last week and can’t wait to start experimenting with it.
– With the Thanksgiving theme this week and the previews at the end of the show mentioning “later this season” it looks like there won’t be a show next week. Whew!
I really want you to come back to this space over the next week. But if you don’t, I hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving with fun times and save travels!