At Home Chopped Challenge

A chopped challenge was recently issued.  The ingredients were:

Manilla Clams

Boneless Country Pork Rib

Country Pork Rib (Bone In)

Corn on the Cob

Canned Applesauce


Sesame Crisps


I did not know what to do with the basket as usual.  The rules I adhere too are a little different from on the show because it actually is our dinner, not just for judging.  There was some redundancy in the basket with similar ribs, grains, and textures so it was a challenge to keep things innovative.  I am lucky to have set ground rules a long time ago regarding the timing of the dishes.  I try to make an appetizer, entree, & dessert if I can, but sometimes ingredients and real world scenarios do not allow.  

Initially, I figured I should tackle the pork as that would take the longest time to cook.  The bone in rib got seasoned and then seared.  After it was golden, I started a braise in some water and an interesting Pork sauce or gravy base that had been a gift from Austria.  Although I could not read the directions or ingredients of the tube of pork toothpaste because they were in German, it looked bouillon esk and safe enough to flavor a braise with.  I then took the boneless pork and diced up one of the ribs cleaning off some of the silver skin wherever I could.  It was pulsed it in the food processor to a coarse grind and then rendered it in a saute pan and set aside.  

My thoughts then switched to the appetizer portion.    I put the corn on the cob still in the husk in a 400 degree oven and roasted it for about 40 min.  My idea was to do a Manilla Clam & Corn Chowder in Braised Pork Broth for the appetizer round.  Tasting the brazing liquid I knew it could stand up to the brine of the clams with the sweetness of the roasted corn, so I was happy to move in that direction.  Having applesauce as a random ingredient, I added it to the braising liquid for some sweetness & thickening aspirations with a generous squirt of sirracha.  My braised ribs with the bone in after about 45 min had gotten quite tender.  I pulled them out and set them aside to rest for the entree round.  In my pantry, I had a little leftover red onion and a strip or 2 of frozen bacon stashed away.  I diced the bacon and browned it up, setting it aside for a garnish.  Discarding a majority of the bacon grease, I sauteed the red onion in what was remaining.  I added butter, and then the manilla clams.  They opened promptly and I could not help but cut the roasted corn off the cob and add it to the pan with the clams.  After everyone got acquainted, A generous portion of the reduced pork braising liquid was added to make a silken bronzed soup.  I plated and garnished with the bacon scraps and some croutons browned in Butter.  

The pasta part of the entree to compliment the rib was dressed with leftover red sauce I had from last summers garden.  I mixed that with some twirly pasta and the ground pork mixture.  Pasta water, sesame crisps, and chiffonade of basil completed the pasta side dish.  The pork rib had already been braised and I brushed it with a fancy pants BBQ sauce food farm had on the end cap a few weeks ago.  It was also garnished with the buttery croutons, and some basil ribbons.  A Pork Rib with Pork Puttanesca & Crouton was served… Or at least my rendition of it.

The dessert course was the most semi-homemade of the three and I did not take any photographs of it.  I had some ice cream in the freezer and made golf ball size portions letting them set up.  Meanwhile, I took the granola with a dolup of peanut butter and Nutella and made an equal sized portion.  The ice cream after it set was encrusted in a dust from the sandee cookie.  Cheap, and not my best work but the contrasting textures and tastes between the vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, almond, & oatmeal worked well together after some glasses of wine.  

I was told that the appetizer stole the show.  Perhaps I should have just stopped then and enjoyed the wine.