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7.17.2012

MasterChef Update and Some Truly Excellent BBQ Sauce



We were sad to see Josh Marks eliminated last night on MasterChef. It was odd to see two of the top chefs struggle so mightily with soft-boiled eggs, but when you're cooking at that level, for an audience as nuanced and experienced as these folks are cooking for, the difference between moving on and going home could be just a handful of seconds.


When Joe pulled the cap off that innocuous little egg and the contents dribbled down the side of the serving dish, my heart went out to Josh. As he mentioned on-air last night, that was the first time he'd ever poached an egg!


The very first time!


This show is accessible and inclusive, as it features nothing but home cooks, but it also is so heavily  based on technique that it's a little intimidating. I'm amazed at the contestants' ability to bake souffles, to create such a variety of doughs and pastries from scratch and to generally create in such a variety of techniques while under the pressure of a running clock.


I love to cook, but I don't think I could make the top 100 on this show. My wife? I think she could. She makes a couple of recipes each month out of Bon Appetite, which is such a great magazine. She knows many of these techniques well, and I think she'd do a great job in creating recipes on the fly.


I would have preferred to see Becky leave the show last night, as I just think that Josh was a model of consistency throughout the show. Nothing seemed too big for him, prior to this challenge. He led his teams to success in the team challenges, and he put numerous top dishes in front of the judges.


Still, there are some fine cooks left in the show and, with part of the top prize being a publishing contract for the winner's cookbook, there are a few whose final product I might actually purchase.


In the meantime, here's a barbecue sauce recipe that's never let me down:


Ingredients

  • two cloves minced garlic
  • quarter cup diced onion (red or sweet, depending on flavor)
  • one minced jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed (substitute a serrano chili for less heat)
  • half cup packed brown sugar
  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • one cup plain ketchup
  • a dash of liquid smoke
  • one teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • one teaspoon ground red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one teaspoon molasses
  • two tablespoons honey
Caramelize the onions, garlic and jalapeno in the olive oil. Add the vinegar and brown sugar and cook over high heat until reduced a bit. Add the remainder of the ingredients and allow the mixture time to blend together over low heat before brushing on pork, chicken or 10-12 count prawns (yes, barbecued shrimp tastes really good with this sauce).

That's a base sauce, folks. You can certainly tailor it to suit your needs. I like to make variations that include apricot preserves and minced mango, as well as raspberry-based pork sauces. 

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