You know, seriously: what is it with this season? None of the chefs are particularly compelling. The jerks aren't jerky enough, the hot guys aren't hot enough, and nobody has cooked anything that makes me go "Oooh, I want that". I can't even really remember anything anyone's made, and I can remember a few dishes from each previous season. And the elimination competitions have been giant catering affairs, no serious high-end cooking. And how heavy are the edits this season? It's worse than it's ever been.
This week's Quickfire was about pairing dishes with beer. My immediate thought: carbonnade! It's an amazing Belgian stew of beef, onions, and a good sturdy beer (Chimay, Newcastle, even Guinness works). But it's not a quick dish, especially if you're thinking you'd hand-make some egg noodles to serve it over.
So in the interest of time, I'd do frites. Not just regular potatoes, but sweet potato fries as well. And I'd whip up a couple of fun dipping sauces. Yes, the idea is wholesale ripped from Frjtz in San Francisco, but my personal judges would be pretty happy to get the yum without the long-ass drive.
The Elimination Challenge was to prepare food for a tailgating party (again, dude, with the giant catering affair that has little connection with haute cuisine!). And I'd make five-spice chicken wings with cilantro dipping sauce, because they're AWESOME and I haven't made them in a while and man, I need to put that on my next menu plan. I do half of them without the cayenne, so the kids can handle them.
I'd serve a little slaw of some sort, with a rice-wine vinaigrette (one of my dirty pantry secrets is this wok oil that is flavored with ginger, garlic, and other seasonings--I love giving ordinary salad a bit of an Asian twist using this instead of olive or vegetable oil in a dressing).
And of course, I'd pair it with some Tsing Tao.