Bravo’s Top Chef is my favorite show. EVER. It’s embarassing to admit, but I actually squeal with delight and clap my hands together when this shows comes on. Like one of those little monkey toys that bares its lips and bangs cymbals together. Really.
Tonight is the Season 2 Finale. It’s come down to Ilan vs. Marcel. I think they’re both talented, but, for some reason, Marcel has been cast as the “villain” this season. Is he arrogant? Yes. Is he annoying? Yes. But, can the boy cook? Hell, yeah! So, part of me wants to see Marcel win just because he’s the “underdog”. Some crazy woman actually attacked this poor guy on the street with a bottle and he had to get a ton of stitches. Because she thought he was a jerk on a TV show. How crazy is that??? This poor guy was woken out of a sound sleep to a huge, muscular colleague chef attacking him and trying to shave his head. Marcel, in my opinion, has gotten a raw deal.
Marcel’s recipes, however, are hard to duplicate because he uses lots of lecithin and xanthan gum and odd emulsifiers and foam-making supplies, so……tonight I’m trying one of Ilan’s recipes as a tribute to the final episode of Season 2. Ilan is charming, talented and does a better job of motivating his co-workers. My prediction is that he will win tonight. This recipe (from Episode 11) got RAVE reviews from the judges. I had to adapt it quite a bit, because my family doesn’t do clams, but the final result was VERY VERY good. You can find the recipe here (my adaptations are below).
The Romanesco cauliflower is also from my in-law’s farm. It is an heirloom Italian variety and its spirals follow the Fibonacci sequence. Imagine that: a fractal veggie! It also happens to be quite yummy. My photography skills leave a little something to be desired, but it really is quite “otherworldy” looking.
I used two pre-grilled (seasoned with salt and pepper) chicken breasts, sliced into bite-sized pieces, instead of the clams.
I used more cauliflower than the recipe called for (maybe an additional 3/4 cup). Even at that, it could have used a little more, since we were using this as our main course, and not starter, which is how Ilan used it. I made 4 oval baking dishes of the fideos and still had enough left over to make two more separate bowls, but I removed the cauliflower from those, because there wasn’t enough to go around. I’ll add veggies to those leftovers later for tomorrow’s lunch.
I used some chicken stock (maybe 2 cups), in addition to the white wine, to cook the fideos in before they were broiled.
Ilan’s recipe was not really clear (at least not to me) about what to do with the garlic. It never said to take the garlic cloves out of the dish, but it didn’t say, either, that they should be chopped or minced. I’m sure for CIA-grad Ilan, this sort of thing is intuitive, but I wasn’t sure, so I just used 5 cloves of garlic, instead of the 8 or 10 that was called for. I ran them through a garlic press and left them in the dish.
I forgot to add the parsley, which is a shame, because I have fresh Italian parsley growing outside, but it’s cold here and the kids are sick, so it just slipped my mind. The dish was great, but would have been better with just a tiny bit of parsley.
Oven-toasted Fideos (I probably over-toasted them just a bit, but they still tasted great.
Saffron Cream Sauce with the Romanesco Cauliflower Florets