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Food Fighters (NBC)

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"Melissa Clinton"

Home cook Melissa Clinton battles five professional chefs including Jet Tila in her attempt to win $100,000...[button color="white" size="small" link="http://www.nbc.com/food-fighters" target="blank" ]Official Site[/button]

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Food Fighters

Recap

Home cook Melissa Clinton, a biology teacher from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, is about to go head-to-head with five professional chefs. She comes from a large Italian family and was only nine years old when her grandmother taught her to cook. If she wins, Melissa hopes to bring her entire family to Italy to see where her grandmother grew up.

In her first battle, Melissa goes up against Josh Stone, the executive chef and owner of a chain of popular delis. She decides to challenge Chef Stone with her stuffed chicken and mashed potatoes, hoping this dish won't be part of his repertoire. Melissa's strategy proves correct; Chef Stone hasn't cooked a dish like this in years. The two chefs run to their kitchens and begin cooking. Melissa stuffs her chicken with pesto, sausage and provolone cheese, and serves it with garlic mashed potatoes. In the other kitchen, Chef Stone chooses not to actually stuff his chicken. He makes prosciutto and gouda chicken with mashed red potatoes. The Dinner Party - a group of average Americans who love food - will decide the winner in a blind taste test. After deliberation, Melissa wins the Stuffed Chicken Showdown (and $5,000), in a 3-to-2 decision.

Next Melissa faces chef to the rich and famous, Manouschka Guerrier, who was taught how to cook by her Haitian grandmother. Melissa chooses to make her Italian meatballs with ratatouille, which remind her of her grandmother. Lucky for Melissa, Chef Guerrier has never even seen ratatouille, so he decides to make Haitian-style meatballs. Time is running out when Melissa realizes her veggies aren't cooking - the broiler isn't on! Melissa rushes to complete her dish. In a 4-to-1 decision, the winner of this food fight is Chef Guerrier.

Although Melissa's oven troubles seemed to get the best of her in the last round, she's ready for her next opponent, Michele Ragussis, one of the top seafood chefs in New England. Melissa chooses to make her Pork Wellington, hoping Chef Ragussis won't be familiar with the dish, but she's mistaken. Chef Ragussis knows her way around meat! Melissa makes her Wellington with pork, prosciutto and sun-dried tomato chipotle pesto. Chef Ragussis stays traditional and tops her pork with a demi-glaze. Melissa has trouble with her oven once again - will it cost her another win? The Dinner Party deliberates and the winner of the food fight is Chef Ragussis. Although disappointed, Melissa gears up for her next battle, which will make her or break her.

Hoping to redeem herself, Melissa faces Chef Mike Brown for her $20,000 showdown. She chooses to make her chicken burger with guacamole and beer-battered onion rings, using her grandmother's pot and spoon for luck. Chef Brown makes his chicken burger with blood orange slaw and stout onion rings. In a unanimous 5-to-0 decision, Melissa wins this food fight!

Melissa's final opponent is Chef Jet Tila, the holder of three culinary world records. Melissa challenges him to beat her bacon brownies. Chef Tila isn't going to lie, she saved a good dish for him. Chef Tila creates his own interpretation of a brownie, a skillet-cake brownie with bacon vanilla ice cream, while Melissa makes a traditional brownie with bacon glass on top. In a 3-to-2 decision, Melissa wins! She walks away with $50,000.

Food Fighters

Melissa Clinton's Recipes

Sausage and Pesto Chicken

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INGREDIENTS
3 chicken breast filets
2 slices provolone cheese
2 spicy Italian sausage links
Vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
Chicken stock
Flour
Fresh thyme
Micro purple basil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
3 Idaho potatoes
Roasted garlic
Dried parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and cut potatoes into 1" cubes. Place potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until fork-tender, then set aside.

Cut sausage links in half and cook on medium-high heat in a pan. Grind sausage in food processor using the "shred" setting. Combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and blend until you have created a uniform mixture, add olive oil as needed. Set aside.

Pound chicken filets until thin, but not holey. On each chicken breast, layer ingredients in the following order: pesto, sausage, 1/2 slice of cheese. Keep ingredients away from edges of chicken so they don't spill out. Roll up chicken using toothpicks to secure in place. You may need to tuck in sides of the chicken with a toothpick as well.

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan on medium high. Create dry flour dredge with salt and pepper. Roll chicken in flour, then place in heated oil. Rotate chicken about every 2 minutes until golden on all sides. Finish cooking chicken on a resting rack on a cookie sheet in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until done. Let chicken rest for 2 minutes before you remove toothpicks and slice.

Remove some of the oil from pan and add 2 tablespoons butter. When butter is melted, whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour. Continue to stir for a few minutes on high heat. Deglaze with stock, adding thyme sprigs, salt, pepper and parsley. Stir occasionally.

For the mashed potatoes, melt 1/4 cup butter and heavy cream in small pot. Remove boiled potatoes from water and place back in pot. Mash potatoes with butter, cream, roasted garlic, salt and pepper.

 

Italian Pork Meatballs with Eggplant and Pepper Ratatouille

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INGREDIENTS
1-2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 pound high-grade ground pork
1 egg
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small shallot, chopped
1-1/2 stalks rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 cup cubed day-old bread
Whole nutmeg (4-5 shreds on microplane)
Vegetable oil
1 red pepper, cubed
1 green pepper, cubed
3/4 cup eggplant, cubed and skinned
3/4 red onion, cubed
About 15 grape tomatoes
Olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
3 cloves roasted garlic
7-10 basil leaves, cut fine
Bread crumbs as needed

Put cubed bread in milk bath. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, then let rest with heavy pans on top. Clean eggplant, then place with remaining vegetables on two separate trays (one with peppers and one with eggplant, onions and tomatoes). Roast in broiler, turning as needed.

Heat olive oil in pan. Add parmesan, eggs, garlic, shallot, rosemary, parsley and nutmeg to pork, then squeeze milk out of bread and add the mixture. Add breadcrumbs as needed for correct texture. Form into mini balls and fry in heated oil, turning as needed.

Add veggies and roasted garlic to separate pot with a bit of olive oil. Sauté lightly and smash down with potato masher.  Blend half and add chicken stock as needed with good olive oil. Put back in the pot and add salt, pepper and basil to taste. You can also add some hot pepper if desired.

Serve meatballs with ratatouille.

Pork Wellington with Pesto and Blueberry Sauce

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PORK INGREDIENTS
1.5 sheets puff pastry
1 egg
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pork tenderloin, cut into medallions
5 slices prosciutto

SUN-DRIED TOMATOES INGREDIENTS
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh parsley
1/3 cup fresh basil
1-1/2 cups sun-dried tomatoes
Pepper, freshly ground
1 chili pepper from a can of adobo chilies in sauce (maybe only 1/2, depending on hotness)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup olive oil

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 pinches brown sugar if not sweet enough
1 cup frozen blueberries
5-6 grape tomatoes, diced
Olive oil
1 cup port wine 
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 teaspoons flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Season both sides of pork with salt and pepper, then sear in olive oil at medium-high heat, about 1.5-2 minutes each side.

Make pesto: combine ingredients in a food processor until a paste texture.

Cut prosciutto to about the size that would wrap around the medallion and lay down on the rolled-out pastry dough. Spread sun-dried-tomato paste on prosciutto. Mix egg with brown sugar to combine. Brush pastry dough with egg around the prosciutto. Cut each strip of pastry dough so you have enough extra on sides to enclose pork. Roll each piece of pork in the dough. Place on non-stick liner on baking sheet. Baste dough with left-over egg wash.  Place in oven and cook until pork reaches desired internal temperature and dough is browned.

For sauce, heat pan on medium-high heat, then add butter. Once butter is melted, add shallots and garlic for 1 minute, then add a pinch of salt. Whisk in flour and raise flame to high. Whisk for 1 minute, then deglaze pan with port and stir till combined. Add diced tomatoes and blueberries. Cook off port for 3 minutes. Add stock, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Adjust pepper/sugar depending on sweetness of port and the blueberries. Finish cooking for another 3-5 minutes until the desired consistency is reached.

Remove the sauce from heat and hand puree. Then push the sauce through a sieve to remove any skin/clumps, and serve with pork.

 

Chicken Burger with Guacamole and Onion Rings

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BURGER INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-1.5 eggs
3 chicken breasts fillets, semi-frozen
About 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon mustard dry
1 small chopped onion
1 celery stalk
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1/2-1 cup vegetable oil
Fontina cheese, sliced
Mini/regular buns, sesame seeds on top

CHIPOTLE MAYO WITH ARUGULA INGREDIENTS
Baby arugula
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1 spoonful sauce from a can of adobo chilies in sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt
Pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime
Lime zest
1/2 teaspoon cumin

GUACAMOLE INGREDIENTS
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
(I put diced plum tomato in my guac that I use for a dip; be sure to deseed the tomato)
Salt (kosher salt - use more than you think)
Pepper

Add chopped onion, celery, garlic, tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt to large pan on medium heat. Place veggies in a large bowl to cool.

Chop chicken well, almost to a large mince! This works best with a well-sharpened knife and semi-frozen chicken. Add chicken and rest of ingredients to bowl with veggies. Mix together with enough egg and bread crumbs to create a patty.

Cover the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and cook burgers on medium heat (if you want healthy you can spray a non-stick pan instead of "frying" the burger). If you have made large-sized patties instead of mini-burgers, cook on lower heat and cover with lid. Flip burgers after about 4 minutes. Top with cheese after they're done cooking.

Mix together ingredients for chipotle mayo. Mix with arugula, using only use as much as needed to coat arugula.

Mash all guacamole ingredients together except tomatoes, saving them to mix (not mash) in last. Toast buns, spread guacamole on top side, then arugula with mayo.  Put the burger together and enjoy!

 

Bacon Brownies

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INGREDIENTS
8 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped small
Sea salt 
1/6 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon of espresso
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate 
1/4 stick unsalted butter
1/4 + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups sugar
5/6 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate chips

CARAMEL INGREDIENTS
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat sugar on high heat. Melt butter in double boiler. Heat water in microwave. Chop chocolate. Add cocoa and espresso to hot water and whisk together well, then whisk in chocolate. Whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in eggs, vanilla and sugar until you've got a homogenous mixture. Fold in flour and chips. Scoop batter into greased mini-muffin tins. Cook for 9-11 minutes.

For caramel, cook brown sugar and heavy cream until about 200 degrees, then split. Continue cooking half of mixture until 300 degrees, then spread onto tray lined with non-stick liner to make brittle. Quickly top with bacon and sea salt. Add bacon fat to other half of mixture, keeping at 200 degrees, to make caramel syrup. Freeze tray of brittle.

Remove brownies from oven and top with caramel sauce, bacon bits and sea salt. Remove brittle from freezer and crack to look like "bacon glass," then use to decorate brownie.

Food Fighters

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