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Tom Colicchio Reveals What He'd Cook in the Signature Specialty Product Challenge
The head judge shared how he would have handled Bravo's Top Chef: All-Stars L.A.'s recent elimination challenge of creating a signature specialty product and building a dish to highlight it.
On the April 16, episode of Bravo's Top Chef: All Stars L.A., the cheftestants were faced with an elimination challenge of creating a signature specialty product as well as building a dish to highlight it.
The chefs got creative with the task, whipping up everything from a kimchi-peach vinaigrette to calamari bolognese to Mapo sauce. Tom Colicchio, however, would have gone a different route if faced with the challenge. As he explains in the What Would Tom Do? episode above, the head judge would have opted to make an eggplant relish as his product and highlight it with roasted eggplant and lamb chops (scroll down for the full recipe!).
Noting he didn't have a clock running like those competing on the show, Tom also took a moment to appreciate the calm environment he was able to work in alongside Nilou Motamed to prepare the dish. "I'm not going to run around the kitchen," he says in the video above. "I'm way too old for that s--t."
In the video above, Tom explains to Nilou that he decided on the eggplant relish, which combines eggplant, onion, fennel, garlic, ginger, Calabrian chiles, raisins, and spices, after it "became an instant hit at home."
Of course, Tom and Nilou kept their signature banter going as they prepped the dish. As Nilou went to grab raisins for Tom, she also picked up dates. "Wait, dates, too! Interested?" she asked, to which he quipped: "No, I'm happily married."
After cooking the vegetables and chopped eggplant, Tom put the dish in the oven for one hour. In the meantime, the duo got to work on prepping the lamb and roasted eggplant, which involved chopping more items including garlic and scallions, and scoring the eggplant, because, as seen in one of Tom's many tips featured in the video above, scoring aides in the absorption of flavor when marinating or cooking.
While the prep may have been laborious for Nilou, as she jokes in the clip, she was certainly impressed with the quick cook time. "That was literally five minutes, both sides," Nilou exclaims in the video as Tom pulls the lamb chops off of the stove. "Nice and brown."
After tasting the final meal and deeming it a success, Tom explained why the eggplant relish would be his specialty product of choice if he was faced with the elimination challenge. "This can go on a lot of different things," he says. "It can go on a roast fish, you can spread it on some bread, it can go on a hot dog!"
Check out the video above to see Tom and Nilou whip up the meal, and read the recipe below for a step-by-step guide for how to make it at home!
• 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
• 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into 1/4-inch dice
• 2 Calabrian chilies, thinly sliced
• 2 tbl fresh Ginger, grated.
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 cup of raisins
• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1/4 teaspoon cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• Salt & Pepper
• Olive Oil
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add onion, fennel and chilis and cook over moderately high heat, stirring often for 1 minute. Add the eggplant and remaining ingredients. Cook and stir until the eggplant is tender and browned, about 4 minutes.
Transfer ingredients to an oven safe covered dish. Bake in the oven until ingredients are thick and caramelized. Approximately 1 hour @ 350.
Makes 4 – 6 8oz jars
For the Dish
• 12 Lamb Chops
• Season lamb chops with salt and pepper.
• Pan sear in Olive Oil until browned on the surface.
• Flip and cook until the desired doneness is reached.
• Rest lamb chops for 10 minutes before serving.
Seared Eggplant and Fresh Herb Salad
• 2 medium eggplant, sliced lengthwise and scored.
• 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
• ½ cup Chopped Scallions
• 1 Calabrian chili peppers, seeds removed & thinly sliced
• 1 tbs Ginger, fine dice
• 1 Tbl fish sauce
• 1 bunch of basil
• 1 bunch of cilantro
• 1 bunch of parsley
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 lemon
• Salt & fresh cracked Pepper
• Olive Oil
Season and saute eggplant in olive oil on medium high heat for about 1 minute, turning often. Add remaining ingredients and cook until al dente. Separate Eggplant from the other vegetables and set aside.
For the salad: In a bowl combine fish sauce, cooked vegetables and fresh herbs. Toss and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon and salt and pepper.
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