MasterChef roundup: Meatballs, salmon balls and a lot of chilli powder
Last week saw three chefs survive the heats to compete in Friday’s quarter final, with Oliver and Rukmini beating back Claire’s mediocre tuile biscuits to ensure that they went through to the semi-final. And this week, 10 more hopefuls arrived to join them in the later stages of MasterChef’s labyrinthine competition.
Wednesday’s round eased us into that particular MasterChef absurdity with sales manager Sophie musing that she would be likely to get what she wanted because she’s an Aries. After showing off about her excellent palate, Sophie delivered a plate of uncooked lentils that were so heavily spiced as to leave John’s face simultaneously stinging and numb.
With the exception of Jill, whose lamb dish Gregg declared “perfectly divine”, the invention test delivered a wishy-washy result, with doctor Toby and barman Leon offering up confused flavours and badly cooked lamb. Molecular gastronomist Paul served up a dish that despite having two sauces was dry and flavourless. We suppose Heston Blumenthal’s not exactly quaking in his boots just yet.
The palate test saw them try their hands at a bowl of meatballs and pasta. So far so simple, but of course it was chock-full of a mixture of herbs, meats and techniques, which none of the contestants managed to identify fully. In a moment of sheer panic Paul loaded his meatballs with minced beef, pork, chicken and lamb, and bacon for good measure. He ruefully cried “my pasta’s a disaster!”. But it couldn’t be as bad as Sophie’s which was too thick by half and Leon’s which was bafflingly cut into post-it size squares. Unimpressed by their pasta efforts, the judges sent Sophie and Leon packing.
At One-O-One Knightsbridge Toby was given a duck dish to handle, which saw him slammed with orders (as is de rigueur with meatier dishes in the pro-kitchen stage of Masterchef) while the other two managed much better. Toby served up lamb and lentils that, despite tasting OK, looked like “a dog’s dinner”. It meant that he ended up sent home even though Paul served up a starter that missed a vital component, and a wet soggy main course that was also half-finished. Jill was by far and away the star of this episode, serving up a practically perfect sea bass with a beurre blanc that made John purr.
Thursday brought five more hopefuls who had to wrestle with pears and Dover sole for the invention test. Masseuse Sophie impressed with her stuffed baked pear, while Kieron presented John and Gregg with woefully overcooked fish and an acrid, burnt sauce. Martin set himself the task of stuffing a flat fish and found himself wanting.
In the palate test, the contestants were expected to create a delicious confection of crusted lamb cutlets and a skordalia – basically a complex potato puree. Sophie overcooked her lamb but her beetroot side salsa was pronounced “heavenly”. Andrew lost the plot, presenting a terrible dish that let Gregg and John down after his great performance in the invention test. After managing to burn and undercook his lamb, Kieron was shown the door along with Martin.
At One Twenty One Two Sophie, Farhana and Andrew were worked hard, with Sophie tasked with creating cous cous cakes. We misheard that as Christmas cake which was quite exciting. Andrew didn’t perform very well in the professional kitchen, where his undercooked duck got him sent home much to Gregg’s consternation. Farhana and Sophie join Paul and Jill in the quarter final tomorrow night, when they will cook for past MasterChef victors for a place in the semi-final, joining Oliver and Rukmini.
Gregg-ism of the Week: “You look excitable!”
Plat du are-you-sure?: Farhana’s salmon balls. Salmon balls. We can’t stress this enough. Salmon. Balls.Tagged in: food, masterchef
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