How Faye Delicious did what she did, on Chopped

Just in case you get a basket full of Canadian bacon, jarred red peppers, tomatillos and powdered pitiful chicken soup and twenty minutes to figure out what to do with it, I’m going to throw you some props.

1. Take two minutes to come up with a plan. Keep it simple, and stick to it. Keep the dancing to a minimum.

I wanted to bring out the best of the ingredients and make them leap. Sauteing the bacon intensifies it’s smoky flavor and warms up the fat, which helps with mouth appeal. I added a tiny bit of finely chopped onion to the saute and warmed through the pepper with it as well. I used a corn tortilla for the base, which to me always tastes better if it’s grilled or fried. I drizzled my pan with a olive oil, and got each side a gorgeous golden brown. I piled a little heap of my bacon and peppers on the tortilla and to give the bit some creaminess, I went for mascarpone to spoon on top. Mascarpone on its own is a beautiful thing, but ham and roasted red pepper are already smooth, back of the tongue flavors. I needed zip. I added a teeny weeny bit of lemon zest, salt and pepper to the mascarpone, and gave it a crown of a little chopped fresh parsley, and tiny slivers of raw red onion, to give that final zing ZING.
I didn’t want the chicken soup powder, the flavor egg or those nasty noodles on my plate and it showed. I tried my darndest to stir it into a sort of chicken soup risotto to help with the texture and added lemon juice and olive oil to soften the saltiness of it. I got it into my cockamamie head that I had to use the whole thing and so I did. Don’t you make the same mistake. Open the trash can and drop it right on in.
One of my favorite sauces in the whole wide world is avocado and tomatillo sauce with fresh lime and salt. Soooo good. BUT THERE WERE NO AVOCADOS. That took me a minute. I decided to make a little cold tomatillo soup instead. I added a whisper of garlic, chive I think, lime juice, a drop of olive oil and the teeniest bit of mascarpone because it was there and I love it and how could it hurt? It tasted absolutely delicious–who knew. And put me in the next round.

I don’t recommend opening a basket that has squab in it. Close it up. Ask for another one. I know there are people who like squab and I’m not one of them.
If you over cook squab, it gets a livery taste, which I hate and if you undercook it, well you’re serving raw poultry which I don’t believe in.
Which brings me back to mascarpone. I’ll be the first one to tell you that I overused the mascarpone if I were thinking in terms of serving everything in one menu. I wasn’t thinking that. I was thinking round one is over, and we are now in round two.
One of my favorite ways of making Mr. squab’s cousin chicken, is to stuff it with mascarpone, rosemary, garlic and lemon zest (s&p). You season the bird first with a little salt and pepper, and then sear it really well in a hot and heavy pan. Once it’s cooled down enough to touch it, you shove the mascarpone mix under the skin and then put it in the oven at 400 degrees. When the flesh is just done with being pink, take it out. So that’s what I did with the squab.
I made a quick saute of radicchio and green leaf lettuce with olive oil, a whole and uncut garlic clove and a sprig of parsley, and pan fried a piece of beautiful bread to set underneath. I layered the squab on top, pouring the juices from the pan on the bird and then for a classic finish, I made a gremolata with the Far Far.

As a refresher: cactus pear and green apple salad with lemon and fresh mint, chive, salt, pepper, and a spill of olive oil.

2. Compete to win, but if you don’t win don’t worry. There is always another meal.

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