Friday, May 22, 2015

Chopped International: Cusco Edition 05/20/15

Today the chefs of the prestigious American university, Vanderbilt, were challenged with the task of making two traditional Peruvian dishes: papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes) and lomo saltado (pan-seared beef). Luckily, on this special edition of Chopped International, judge Chef Elena, a native Peruvian, saw them struggling and volunteered to help them throughout the show. First, Chef Elena started making the potatoes for the papas rellenas. She put peeled white potatoes in a pressure cooker filled with boiling water. While the potatoes were cooking, Chef Elena showed them how to make traditional Peruvian rice to accompany the lomo saltado. First, she placed vegetable oil in a pot and let it heat up for a minute. Then, she placed two bags of white rice in the pot and fried it a little. Next, she placed boiling water in the pot, and covered the rice. While the rice was cooking, she took the potatoes out of the pressure cooker, and instructed the Vanderbilt chefs to smash them by placing them in a tool with small holes on either side. After they were smashed, she instructed Chef Elliot to knead them in a bowl like dough. While he was kneading the potatoes, Chef Elena began to cook the filling for the papas rellenas. First, she placed onions, cumin, garlic, and oil in a pot. After the onions were almost burnt, she added diced tomatoes. Then she added ground beef and salt. She then covered the pot and said that it is important not to mix the filling until it has browned. When the beef was a light brown color, she added fresh parsley and oregano. Next, Chef Elena took the pot over to the table where Chef Elliot was kneading the potatoes. She then scooped out a handful of potatoes, cupped her hand, and pressed the potatoes until they fit the shape of her hand. Then, she added a spoonful of the beef filling, a sliced olive, and a fourth of a boiled egg and covered the filling with more potatoes.
Chef Elea said that after the filling is covered completely, the papa rellena should look like a potato again. She then let the Vanderbilt chefs try making them. Some failed, and some bragged about their excellent potato stuffing skills.
After all of the papas rellenas were made, Chef Elena placed oil in a pan and pan-fried them until they were golden brown on all sides. Once they were all pan-fried, Chef Elena let the Vanderbilt chefs enjoy their hard work. Then, Chef Elena began cooking french fries to accompany the lomo saltado. She placed thin sliced white potatoes in a pan with oil, and told the Vanderbilt chefs that it takes forty minutes for french fries to cook in the high altitude of Cusco. While the french fries were cooking, Chef Elena showed the Vanderbilt chefs how to make a popular Peruvian drink, chica morada, or a purple corn drink. She placed purple corn, barley, cinnamon, and sliced mandarin oranges with their peels in a pot of water and then let it simmer. Then, Chef Elena began making the main course, lomo saltado. First she sliced up the beef and then she placed it in bowl with soy sauce, a little bit of white vinegar, and cumin. Then she transferred it to a pan and covered it. Chef Elena said that if it needs more salt, you should add more soy sauce, not salt. After the beef began to brown, she placed onions, tomatoes, parsley, and oregano in the pan. When the rice, lomo saltado, and french fries were finally ready, Chef Elena brought them downstairs to the other kitchen and showed the Vanderbilt chefs how to present the dish. First, she said that the traditional way to present the dish is to place the rice in a bowl and flip it over, making a dome shaped rice pile on the plate, and then place the beef and french fries next to the rice. Then, she showed us her favorite way to present lomo saltado. Again, she placed the rice in a bowl and flipped it over to make a rice dome on the plate. However, next she mixed the french fries into the lomo saltado and then placed the mixture next to the rice.
The Vanderbilt chefs practiced serving the dish and of course, they tasted it too. Thanks to Chef Elena, the Vanderbilt chefs were not chopped, and they remain in the competition to become the next Chopped International champion. 

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