CHOPPED Thursdays Round #8 - MY TURN!!!

Welcome back to CHOPPED Thursdays!!!  

Disclaimer:  We did this "Thursday" edition on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons).  

I was this chef this week, and it's now my SECOND time in the CHOPPED kitchen.  I was insanely nervous...mainly because Greg was buying my basket...oh man.  Greg chose chose 2 packages Carolina Yellow Rice, a Large Container of Del Monte Citrus Salad in Extra Light Syrup, a Cheese and Pepperoni Variety Package, and EXTRA FIRM Tofu.  Total Spent = $22.

With the timer set for 30 minutes...I was ready to go...unfortunately, I had NO IDEA what I was going to make.  First, I cut open the tofu, and drained out the water.  With the idea of deep-frying the tofu, I decided to slide off a piece, and just deep fry it without any coating.  Let's just say that didn't work out too well.  While that first piece was deep frying, I knew what had to happen with the rice - so I began to cook that immediately (because I knew that would take the most time). 

After determining the plain tofu wouldn't work, I decided to crack open two eggs, and some breadcrumbs.  I sliced multiple pieces off the tofu brick, coated them with egg, covered them with breadcrumbs, then deep fried them.  

After getting started with deep frying the tofu, I decided to tackle and open the pepperoni and cheese platter.  I took the pepperoni out, and sliced them all into little strips.  After slicing them all, I threw them in a pan with a little bit of the extra light syrup to cut some of the grease and fat from the pepperoni.

With the pepperoni in the sauté pan, I decided to tackle the citrus salad.  Opening the package (that was huge, and I needed Greg's help because I wasn't strong enough), I took out some handfuls, and mixed them with the leftover Pomegranate Juice, and some Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.  

Here's me taking out the last two pieces of tofu from the deep fryer before beginning to plate my meal.  It's a bit of an action shot for you - compliments of Mel - thanks Mel!!

With the tofu draining off the oil, the rice was ready, so I began to plate the rice.  Taking the rice out of the pot, I plated it in the center of the plates.  Next up, was one slice of the fried tofu.  Then, two pieces of the pepperjack cheese.  Then, the second piece of tofu.  After that, I topped it with the sautéed pepperoni.  

Knowing that I had this citrus mixture, and not quite sure how to plate it, I decide at the last minute (with 3 minutes left), that I would cube up the rest of the tofu, and mix it together in the citrus salad, and serve it as a second dish.  Here's a picture of the paparazzi I had in the kitchen with me.  The picture is from Greg's camera, with Mel lighting the subject.  LOL 

Once that was done and thoroughly mixed, I plated that in a separate bowl for dinner.  I topped each dish with a small chive, and called it a day.  I still had 20 seconds left.  Knowing I had some sliced almonds, I decided (at the last possible minute), to add some to the citrus salad dish (knowing it needed some texture element).  Sliced almonds were flying across the room, and they all made it to the citrus salad bowls.  

When time was called, I was so happy with myself, I threw the almonds on the floor.  Oh well.  LOL

Final Dish #1:  Deep Fried Tofu Cheese Sandwich served over Yellow Rice and topped with Sautéed Pepperoni. 

Final Dish #2:  Tofu & Citrus Salad with a Balsamic and Pomegranate Vinaigrette, topped with sliced almonds. 

Now...the Judging begins....keep in mind that the full scores will be shared with the group after the final chef presents their dish.  And I was the last chef!!!  Scores will be revealed on FRIDAY (after Thanksgiving).

Entree Summary:  I shocked the hell out of myself with this one.  I admit, when I opened this basket, I wanted to curse out Greg, quit, and order pizza.  I pushed through, because that's what I do!!  Everyone seemed very pleased with the dish - and I thought that when I ate it, it came out very well.  It's almost like trying a new recipe...and you're trying it for the very first time.  I literally looked down at my dishes (two, holy crap!), and thought, what the HECK is this going to even TASTE like?  Oh man!  I have to be honest...I didn't think the cheese was going to melt in between the fried tofu pieces (I was wrong).  Had I known that the cheese was going to melt, I would have put the sautéed pepperoni IN WITH THE CHEESE - and I would have made a "Hot Pocket" type of item.  THAT would have been smart.  As far as the citrus was good, but it had a bit of an aftertaste, and I couldn't quite place what it was (or why I didn't like it).  I have a feeling it had to do with the combination of the grapefruit, and the balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  

Scoring:  Will be revealed on FRIDAY - after we've all had some time with our families for Thanksgiving :) STAY TUNED!!!

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