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The Daily Dish Top Chef

Top Chef Alums Share Their Go-To "Delicious, Fast & Easy" Holiday Dishes

Season 18 cheftestants Dawn Burrell & Shota Nakajima share exactly how to make incredible, stress-free dishes for the holiday season.

By Abby Feiner
See What Happens When Top Chef Season 18 Alums Compete to Make "Magical" Holiday Dishes

Although Maria Mazon loves the holiday season, spending time "decorating, shopping, and, of course, cooking" can often feel like "a lot of work." With that in mind, the Top Chef alum challenged fellow Season 18 cheftestants Shota Nakajima and Dawn Burrell to create "delicious, fast, and easy dishes that everyone will love."

How to Watch

Watch the Top Chef Season 21 premiere on Wednesday, March 20 at 9/8c on Bravo and next day on Peacock.

Of course, this was no ordinary task. In the video above, Maria added a holiday twist to the challenge by kicking it off with a white elephant gift exchange. "Each box has the name of a protein that's going to be the main ingredient you have to incorporate in your dish," she explained as she handed over a tray of wrapped gifts. Although Dawn received an ornament labeled "pork," Shota quickly leaned into the white elephant rules and "stole" her gift, leaving Dawn to make a turkey-based dish instead. 

With their proteins determined, the chefs got to work using ingredients supplied by Campbell's®. When the 40-minute time limit for their challenge was up, Dawn had made a crispy turkey paillard with tomato puttanesca sauce and Shota had whipped up pork katsu with braised cabbage.

Watch the video above to see the challenge unfold and scroll down for the full recipes!

Chef Dawn Burrell's Crispy Turkey Paillard with Tomato Puttanesca Sauce

Style Living Top Chef Holiday 102 Dawn 01

Yield: 10 servings
Prep and Cook Time: 40 mins active, 60 min total

4 pounds butter
10 turkey breast cutlets
8 oz. garlic cloves, half minced, and half left whole
3 shallots, 1 sliced thinly and 2 diced
2 cilantro bunches
4-5 eggs for breading
3-4 cups flour for breading
3 boxes panko breadcrumbs
1 ½ cups olive oil
1 jar capers, drained with brine reserved
1 lemon, juiced
1 jar spicy red ground or chopped Calabrian chilis
1 (10.75 oz.) can of Campbell’s® Tomato Soup
6 anchovy filets
1 (32 oz.) carton of Swanson® Chicken Stock


  1. To make clarified butter: Place butter in a medium pot to clarify. Allow it to melt then skim off milk solids to make a clear cooking fat and set aside.
  2. Place each portion of turkey between 2 pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Gently pound on the portion with a mallet until flattened and tenderized. Place portions in a large bowl and aside.
  3. For the marinade: Place half the garlic, 1 shallot sliced, salt, pepper, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 cup of olive oil, and the juice of 1 lemon into a blender and blend until well combined. Pour over the turkey and let set for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. In 3 separate vessels: Set up a 3-compartment breading station by placing flour in one, eggs in a second, and panko in the third. Season panko and eggs with salt. Bread each turkey portion by dredging in flour, then egg, followed by panko. Make sure you're getting good coverage with the panko.
  5. For brown caper sauce: In a medium sauté pan, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Drain capers and dry thoroughly, then add half the capers to the pan and sauté until golden brown. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon caper juice, 1 tablespoon spicy chilis and add 2 tablespoons of butter, mix to finish sauce.
  6. For the puttanesca sauce: Sauté the diced shallots and the remaining garlic, minced, in ½ cup olive oil on medium high heat until softened. Add ½ can of Campbell’s® Tomato Soup and cook until caramelized and thick. Then add the remaining capers and the anchovies and cook until anchovies melt. Add 1 cup of Swanson® Chicken Stock and season with salt and pepper. Allow to simmer to reduce by one third.
  7. To cook the turkey: Place ½ cup of clarified butter in a sauté pan and heat on medium heat, then add breaded turkey cutlets. Cook until golden brown or about 5 minutes. Add more butter and flip and continue to cook on the other side for an additional 3 minutes, then remove and drain on a wire rack.
  8. To serve: Chop some of the remaining cilantro for garnish. On a large platter, place the puttanesca sauce on the bottom and top with the cooked turkey. Drizzle with the butter sauce and garnish with some chopped cilantro.

Top Chefs Tips

  1. Add lemon zest and parsley to your panko to give the breading added pizazz.
  2. Always keep one hand wet and the other dry when breading. This helps the process to go smoothly.
  3. Substitute chicken instead of turkey for a delicious meal anytime.
  4. Save your remaining ½ can of Campbell’s® Tomato Soup for lunch the next day, best served with a grilled cheese.

Chef Shota Nakajima's Pork Katsu with Braised Cabbage

Style Living Top Chef Holiday 102 Shota 01

Yield: 8 servings
Prep and Cook Time: 40 minutes

8 pork loin cutlets, ¾ inch thick, bone out 
Salt to taste 
Pepper to taste
3 cups all-purpose flour 
4 eggs  
1 pound panko 
3 quarts oil in fryer / 2 quarts oil in pot on stove
1 – 1 ½ heads green cabbage, core and cut into one-inch squares 
3 pounds carrot cut into ¼ inch coins 
1 (10.75 oz) can of Campbell®’s Tomato Soup 
2 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
4 oz. capers, drained of brine 
For garnish:
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and chopped 
2 oz, Sesame seeds 


  1. Tenderize, salt, and pepper the pork. Fill one shallow pan with the flour, one shallow pan with whisked eggs, and one shallow pan panko. Bread the pork cutlet: place each piece of seasoned tenderized pork by putting it in the flour first, coat each side well, then shake off excess flour. Then place into whisked egg, coat well, then plane into panko. Coat each cutlet with panko and set aside until they are all done. 
  2. Fry the breaded pork cutlets at 275F for 3 minutes. Remove to a tray lined with a paper towel or a cooling rack to drain and rest. Raise the temperature of the fryer to 350F degrees and fry the pork again until golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined tray to drain. 
  3. Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat and add the sesame oil. Sauté the cabbage and carrots until browned. Add the Campbell’s® Tomato Soup and Swanson® Chicken Stock, and reduce until the vegetables are tender. Finish with the rice vinegar. 
  4. Fry the capers on the hot oil of the fryer after you finish the pork cutlets. 
  5. To serve: On a large platter or plate, place the vegetables on the plate and top with fried pork cutlets. Garnish with chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. 

Top Chef Tips

  1. Don’t have a meat tenderizer? Place the pork cutlets between 2 pieces of cellophane and use a cast iron pan to pound them to tenderize. 
  2. Don’t have enough burners for the holidays? Use a small tabletop deep fryer to easily fry your pork. It is quick, easy, and a lot cleaner than using a deep pan. Plus, it is much easier to keep the temperature at the correct level for the best results!

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