Proscuitto, pirate berry cereal, smoked white cheddar, and nyquil. What do you make?
people seem to all be responding to this post with the same train of thought: prosciutto and cheese sticks, fried in cereal breading, nyquil sauce on the side. but do you know what counts against you in chopped? lack of creativity. congratulations, every single one of you with the same hivemind answer just got voted out. not to mention the concept of a nyquil sauce on cheese sticks (smoked cheese especially) is fucking appalling. and if you can’t taste the nyquil, that’s also grounds to get voted out.
take it from a fucking crocker, there isn’t anything that can’t be made into a good meal. especially this? at it’s base, all of these are strong, hearty flavors. not necessarily ones i’d opt to pair and i try not to make a habit out of cooking with menthol, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be made to work.
i’m gonna hit this with a double feature, because i want this meal to happen. trying to force all possible basket ingredients into the smallest conceivable physical space, as is the case with the cheese stick ideal, may get the job done but like i said, it’s gonna taste like shit. breaking it into separate parts will cut you a little closer on time, but the dish itself will be better and your presentation will take a heavy bonus.
so here’s what you do.
take a two tablespoons of nyquil and put it in a small saucepan with two parts water to one part nyquil and pinch of salt. tiny, my man. a quarter teaspoon, maybe. let it steep over a low broil for 5 or so minutes* or until the water starts to take on a greenish tint. don’t stir it. separate the thicker part of the syrup from the ugly menthol-tinted water like you’d take out an egg white. dump the syrupy bit, but keep what is now a nyquil extract in the saucepan.
take that off the burner and let it cool to room temperature and put it into a small bowl; mix it in with a dash of real mint, three teaspoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, two teaspoons of honey, another teaspoon of salt and a half cup of olive oil. this little vinaigrette will serve the purpose of a standard mint, save for that glaringly artificial taste that there’s no fucking way you’re going to be able to avoid cooking with nyquil anyways. it’s the difference between real oranges and orange gummies, but since the hors d’ouvre we’re making is primarily sweet anyways, it won’t hurt anyone to slide into the candy-like flavor realm.
*while your extract is steeping, make the most of your wait time and peel and cut a few slim wedges of ripe sweet melon. personally, i prefer charentais, but the best the chopped pantry will probably have is gonna be canteloupe. (honeydew works too, but it harshes the color scheme.) half your wedges once you get them out into a nice finger-food size. you should still have time to strip your prosciutto into inch/inch and a half wide strips, but if you don’t, you can take that on while the saucepan is cooling.
once your vinaigrette is done and mixed, toss your melon wedges in it until they’ve got a nice, sweet sheen over ‘em, and then wrap the seasoned wedges in the prosciutto. this is an italian classic, and it’s super easy. like i said before, the artificial taste of the nyquil will give this a slight twinge of tasting more like a snack, but overall, it’s still a great appetizer. if you do it right, this is high marks city.
“oh, fucker, but you didn’t even touch the berry cereal or the cheese!”
you are absolutely fucking right. because you know how bad it would’ve tasted if i did? i’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you don’t. so here’s the long-awaited fabled part two.
from the pantry, you’re gonna need some good apples. they don’t specify which wood the cheese was smoked with, but i’m going to assume it was hickory as that tends to be the favorite for cheddar flavors? so you can compliment the hickory smoke with a tart apple that’s got a sweetness to it – honeycrisp or braeburn are gonna be on the money.
put a whole apple (not peeled or cored, but make sure to take the stem off), a cup of apple cider vinegar, a cup of water, a cup of sugar, a tablespoon of salt, two teaspoons of cinnamon, and a tablespoon of lemon juice into the food processor and light that shit up. put your mushy applesauce-style mix into a large, wide pan into it until it caramelizes and evens out. it’s butter now.
now take two cups of berry cereal and take the actual berries out. with a mortar and pestle, grind up those weird yellow square bits into cereal dust. cut 6-8 slices from a thin loaf of french bread, brush the crusts in olive oil, and roll vertically in the cereal dust. once the outside of the bread has a second crust of cereal around the outside, arrange all of the pieces on a non-stick cooking pan. (you won’t use all of them in your plating, but it never hurts to have a little extra in case they burn on the edges or something gets fucky.)
take the apple butter you made and spread it thinly but evenly over the bread slices. cover them with a layer of folded prosciutto, a layer of thin apple slices, and a layer of sliced smoked cheese. bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread (and cereal) is golden brown.
plate on a flat square dish with one baked cheddar and apple butter tea sandwich fixed to one corner, your prosciutto-wrapped melon wedge in the opposite corner with the core-curve facing the center of the plate. accent the sandwich side with two apple slices forming an angle, and divide the plate with a colorful drizzle of the nyquil vinaigrette and a mint leaf.
last, but most certainly not least. while you’re on chopped, in that cute little cutscene after your plates have been served and you’re monologuing your final thoughts before the judges try your food,
look directly into the camera and invite tumblr user @tedallen to suck your dick.
Jesus christ, you win all of chopped.
Are you happy? Are you happy the network canceled chopped because of you? Unbelievable. Well, take your pants off, let’s go.