On this episode of MasterChef Junior, “The Good, the Bad, and the Smelly,” the home cooks construct a game-day favorite appetizer. The chefs work with smelly ingredients, and two more contestants are eliminated.
As we all continue to munch on Thanksgiving leftovers, the remaining culinary prodigies of MasterChef Junior are ready for take on a new set of challenges.
A Dip-Building Team Challenge
The home cooks have to construct a seven-layer dip which consists of the following: beans, corn, salsa, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and chives and cheese. Assembling a game-day favorite of this magnitude is a lot for one pint-sized chef which is why the kids will be split up into teams to tackle this challenge.
The home cooks are broken up into three teams of six, each headed by a captain. The teams are as follows:
Ian (captain), Jesse, Amaya, JJ, Zac and Mia
Avery (captain), Adam, Jaeclyn, Derek, Kaitlyn and Tae-Ho
Kya (captain), Sam, Addison, Kamilly, Corey and Nate
In addition to this being the first team challenge of the season, it’s also the first EVER MasterChef Junior relay race. Each team member is responsible for one layer Since there are only 6 competitors, but seven layers, the final contestant is tasked with completing the sour cream and chives and cheese components.
There’s a little bit more finesse involved in this challenge than dumping ingredients into a bowl and spreading them around. The beans have to be mashed, the corn has to be cut off of the cob, the salsa has to be mixed together, the lettuce shredded, the organic guacamole scooped, the sour cream and chives combined and the cheese spread generously over the top.
Ian’s team emerges victorious, and as a reward, he gets to dunk Christina’s head into the completed dip. (I choose to eat most dips this way, so its all good.) Because all the judges are such good sports, they let the remaining team captains mash their faces into their bowls as well.
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A Stinky Advantage
Since Ian’s team emerged victorious, they get an advantage going into the elimination round. The whole gang heads into the MasterChef Junior pantry where they learn that they are all exempt from the elimination round and will be moving on in the competition. Also, the team gets to decide which ingredients the remaining cooks will use during the elimination challenge.
Each judge unveils a box of ingredients. Christina’s options are spicy: hot peppers, chili oil, horseradish, ginger and wasabi. Graham’s choices are smelly: stinky cheeses, pickled eggs, liver, corn fungus, truffle oil. Gordon’s components are wrinkly: raisins, prunes, tripe and calf brains.
Ian and his team go with Graham’s ingredients. Let the gagging begin.
The Elimination Challenge
The petite chefs have to get out of their comfort zones and embrace these “aromatic” ingredients and make them the stars of their dishes.
Addison prepared a Tom Kha Gai soup (chicken and coconut) with fish sauce and garlic, chicken meatballs and rosewater rice. Addison took a lot of risks. Christina says that while fish sauce and garlic are a good pairing, rosewater and curry, maybe not so much. Addison’s bold use of flavors pay off though. Christina is very impressed with the finished product. Gordon can’t believe Addison has never been to Asia because her flavor profiles are spot on.
Derek made a rib eye steak with acorn squash, Israeli cous cous and a creme fraiche lime and cilantro sauce. Derek’s smelly ingredients are garlic and vinegar. Graham says the steak is cooked and seasoned perfectly, the presentation is great, and the creme fraiche has beautiful acidity.
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Wunderkind Kya is up next. She’s made a poached chicken with a white truffle oil cream sauce and boiled veggies. (Kya’s been working with truffle oil since the age of four.) Gordon’s only criticism is that the next time Kya poaches chicken, she should remove the skin.
Avery has constructed a lamb dish with a garlic and potato cake and a red wine and garlic sauce. Christina thinks the plate looks a little too brown. It would have turned out better if Avery had done something to brighten it up visually. Christina also thinks the potatoes would have been the perfect vehicle for a stinky cheese. Avery could have brought a little bit more funk.
Jaeclyn made a shrimp and pineapple kabob with a lime rice and corn salad. Her only smelly ingredient is garlic. Gordon points out that her shrimp is woefully under-cooked. He is a fan of her rice, but the dish wasn’t executed well and is more sweet than smelly.
Corey, a 12-year-old Texan, prepared farfalle pasta with turkey sausage and marinara sauce. The sauce contains garlic and pickled eggs. (Bleck.) Christina gives Corey props for making the pasta from scratch, but she doesn’t think the dish screams “smelly ingredients.”
Nate put Philly on a plate. He presents a rib eye steak, potatoes, asparagus and bleu cheese. Visually, Gordon is impressed, and he doesn’t just like it, he loves it. Graham says Nate captured the essence of the smelly challenge, or as Nate puts it, he cut the cheese.
Adam also made homemade pasta and topped it with an anchovy/truffle oil/garlic sauce. Gordon has Adam taste his own dish and give his impression of the finished products. Adam proclaims the pasta to be really thick and the sauce a bit too salty. Gordon points out that Adam’s biggest mistake was working with the pasta immediately after making it. Apparently, pasta needs to rest. Who knew?
Two More Cooks are Sent Home
Nate and Addison’s dishes are the judges’ favorites, and Addison takes top honors.
Corey, Jaeclyn and Adam land in the bottom three, and Corey is spared.
MasterChef Junior airs Fridays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)