Sunday, May 31, 2009

Battle Onion

On May 31, two teams competed in Iron Chef Brooklyn. Dave and Sachiko, the champions of Battle Egg, challenged David and Carol in Battle Onion. It was the last game before the summer hiatus, and Dave and Sachiko went first.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #1: Panko-crusted pork, seaweed, and scallion negimaki with tonkatsu sauce

The judges loved the crunch of the perfectly fried coating, and were impressed by how tightly, almost professionally they were rolled. Some didn't appreciate the heat of the Japanese tonkatsu sauce, but everyone gave the dish high marks for the shiso-leaf presentation.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #2: Leek and brie soup

This warm, creamy soup had a comforting richness and a thick, smooth texture, and the crispy fried leeks on top were a welcome addition. The one inconsistent misstep: Some bowls had a little too much salt, while others appeared well seasoned.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #3: Prosciutto-wrapped stuffed onion with tomato sauce

Judges' comments diverged on this Italian-style dish. Some loved the mushroom-prosciutto-breadcrumb stuffing, relished the crispy pork wrapping, and adored the tomato-basil sauce; others felt it reminded them of a stuffed artichoke at a suburban cocktail party. Everyone questioned whether the recipe would be much improved with a sweeter onion, such as a Maui or Vidalia.

Dave and Sachiko, Dish #4: Pumpkin-onion muffin crusted with toasted pumpkin seeds and topped with maple-marscarpone cream

These muffins were warm from the oven, and so the marscarpone quickly melted over the sides on a sweet puddle. Finely diced onions kept the middles moist, and judges called out for more maple-marscarpone until Sachiko brought out the bowl.

Bonus: Dave announced later on that they were sugar-free and actually quite healthy. Who knew that onions were the answer to the perfect low-cal morning baked good?

David and Carol, Dish #1: Mediterranean red onion-red pepper paste pizza served with homemade hummus and micro greens. Presented on a placemat made from The Onion newspaper

While judges loved the nutty, impressive hummus, they wondered if it worked on top of the pizza, and if the micro greens belonged on the plate at all. They also questioned the store-bought crust, though all nodded when David yelled from the kitchen "We only have two hours—we couldn't make crust." Yes, we've all been there in Iron Chef Brooklyn.

David and Carol, Dish #2: Vidalia onion stuffed with jalapeno-chive bechamel

The spicy cream-filled onion pleased some judges more than other with its potent kick. It did answer the question, "Is a stuffed onion better with a sweet Vidalia?" A little, most agreed, but not in a transforming way.

David and Carol, Dish #3: The Pearl Necklace (Steak with balsamic pearl onions and fried pearl onions)

Judges cried out for more salt for this steak house homage, and once Carol brought some out all agreed that the once-bland dish was much improved. The caramelized balsamic onions were impressively tender and sweet, but while the fried onions were perfect on the outside, their middles remained a bit raw.

David and Carol, Dish #4: Puff pastry filled with caramelized onions and ashta cream, and drizzled with agave syrup. Served with fresh raspberries and an Altoid

This delicate dessert stole more than one judges' heart, and inched the challengers a bit closer to victory. (It won one of the evenings' only perfect scores.) But would it be enough?

The answer? Unfortunately, no. With a slightly wider margin than usual, Dave and Sachiko were victorious once again.

Thanks to all for an amazing amount of thought and effort and creativity. And congratulations to the reigning champs! We are looking forward to Battle Chicken, against Boris and Olga, in September and to a break from the heat in the kitchen.