As many of you know, my husband and I participate in a little food challenge with our friends in California. If you’re new to the blog, the challenges are loosely based on the show, Chopped. We blindly pick 4 ingredients – a protein, a starch, a vegetable, and a ‘miscellaneous item’ – and we then have to create an interesting and delicious meal which highlights these 4 mystery ingredients. Nich and I cook our challenge meal (here in Portland) and Taylor and Brittany cook their meal (in California). We then post our creations on the blog, and ask you to vote on which meal you think was best (For reference, please see Challenge #1, Challenge #2, Challenge #3, and Challenge #4) . Granted, we understand that you cannot taste the meal, so voting is difficult. But we don’t really care about having a winner or a loser, we are honestly just curious about your thoughts on our creations. Did we use the ingredients creatively and cohesively? Would you want to eat either meal?
I can speak for all four of us when I say that we love doing these cooking challenges. The challenges push us to be better cooks, to think outside of the box, and to use ingredients in unique and exciting ways. Some of the best meals we have ever made are a result of these challenges.
This meal was certainly no different. For the fifth installment of the LBC vs. PDX COOKOFF CHALLENGE we had to work with the following ingredients: Duck, Kale, Brioche, and Plantains.
When I saw that we had drawn these ingredients, I was thrilled. There isn’t one bad thing in that bunch. In fact, Nich and I had a really hard time deciding what to make because the ingredients were too good; the options too limitless. Our brains went into overdrive, trying to figure out the best possible combination of these four ingredients.
And, this is what we came up with.
Cast Iron Grilled Duck Breast, served atop a Brioche Bread Pudding with Melted Leeks and Green Kale. Served with a Smoky Plantain Crema and Crispy Fried Kale Strips.
Our comments: “The bread pudding is a Thomas Keller recipe that we modified to include kale. We first made his Brioche recipe from scratch (which took 24 hrs total) and then made a savory bread pudding with it. We sauteed leeks & kale in butter until they ‘melted’ (i.e. were tender and delicious) and included them in the pudding. We seared duck breast in a cast iron skillet on the BBQ. We then went through the painstaking process of making a plantain crema. Nich thought the crema was akin to a ‘white mole’ – it had so many ingredients and such a depth of flavor. To make it, the plantains were cooked down in cream with tons of spices (chipotles peppers, vanilla bean, onion, carrot, cayenne, etc) and then pureed into a crema sauce. For the kale strips we cut black kale into a chiffonade (thin strips) and gave them a quick fry in very hot oil. We seasons with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. In the end, the meal was like thanksgiving on steroids. Imagine the richest stuffing you’ve ever had (the brioce bread pudding) topped with a a moist and decadent duck breast (instead of turkey) with a smoky white plaintain sauce (instead of gravy) and topped with crispy fried kale strips. It was all so ridiculously decadent. Best meal ever.”
Whole Roast Duck (with a Hoisin Jerk Glaze), Plantains with Coffee Black Beans, Coconut Milk Kale, and a Rum Caramel Brioche Cake with Mint.
Their comments: “We decided to go adventurous and roast a whole duck. The whole meal took on a Caribbean theme, so after scoring it and turning over each hour for 4 hours, we brushed it with a hoisen jerk glaze. The meat came out so tender and flavorful, it almost made all the time worth it. For the kale, we sauteed it with some coconut milk, garlic and champagne vinegar. We finished it with some salt and pepper. It was so easy and sooooo yummy. The plantains we fried in some butter and sprinkled cinnamon on them and then tossed them with black beans that we sauteed with coffee. It was a colorful mix of earthy flavors. The plantains were just sweet enough to balance with the beans. Finally, we used the brioche as the basis for our rum cake. In individual ramekins we placed brioche cut outs to fill the sides. We made a rum caramel sauce that we drizzled over the brioche as well as poured into holes we pierced in the cake. We wanted the brioche to be completely immersed in the sauce. We baked them until they were warm and oozing with the glaze. These perfect little cakes were served with fresh mint and truly were amazing. Overall the meal was delicious and helped to broaden our culinary knowledge. We can’t wait to make it again.”
So there you have it, folks. Here are the incredible meals we dreamed up for our four star ingredients. What do you think? Which meal do you want to eat?