"Cora vs. Fraser: Battle
Pork" - January 22
Editor's Note: What follows is a
televised-move-by-televised-move recap. Because a
sixty-minute battle, intro, and judgment has to be
edited into 45 minutes of airtime, not every move will
Neal Fraser, who earned his chops working in New
York and California, working for chefs like retired Iron
Chef Wolfgang Puck. He opened his own restaurant Grace
in Los Angeles. The Chairman draws for him the femme
fatale of the ICs, Cat Cora... Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Adam Timney & Lorilynn Bauer, sous-chefs
Bernhardt & Jason Bowlin, sous-chefs
2-1, won last battle
against Sam Choy
The Theme Ingredient:
Several sides of pork.
The Rules: Each chef
must create a five-course meal, with each course
utilizing the theme ingredient, within 60 minutes. The
judges will score the dishes on a 20-point scale: 10
points taste, 5 points plating and presentation, 5
points creativity and use of ingredient. The chef who
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
with an full heart and an empty stomach, the words of
the Chairman's dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
The Battle: Looks
like we have an entire pig available for the picking.
The challenger is soaking woodchips for later, while the
IC is pressure cooking aromatics with pork shoulder.
Cora is slicing cutlets, while the challenger is frying
pork belly and making spaetzle.
Fraser: "As a rookie on Iron
Chef America, I'm just trying to go in and do what do
best, trying not to reinvent the wheel. If you focus
flavors and everything's plated well, we should do
pretty well." As previously thought, his woodchips are
going to smoke something... IC is grilling peppers and
marinating pork parts, while Adam is working on a
cilantro dipping sauce.
The spaetzle is done on the
challenger's side, and after eight minutes of battle...
THE ICE CREAM MACHINE IS OUT! The Chairman is looking
forward to bacon ice cream.
Fraser is moving pork butt
and belly into the smoker, while the IC is boiling
riblets and making a "monster mixture" with some
peppers. Lorilynn has dried pineapple rind and apples
"Fifteen minutes have
The challenger is rendering fatback from the lardonnes,
while he's also making cherry sauce. Taking a second out
TV host Harry Smith (CBS' "The Early Show")
Culinary critic/writer Jeffrey Steingarten ("It Must've
Been Something I Ate")
Author/wine columnist Jay McInerny
Back to Battle: Ten
minutes later, Cora is brushing and grilling pita bread
while carving out mangoes. Fraser is working on pancetta
with some cabbage. He also has a risotto in the works
coming: once again, this one needs a graphic...
Across the back is the loin
and the baby back ribs. The side are spare ribs. Back is
the ham. Front is the picnic ham. Belly is the... err,
belly, and the front of the back is the butt or
shoulder. We're not working with ham today, because
there is no way that we can cook a ham in 60 minutes.
Back to battle, the
challenger has chicken stock and cream for a polenta.
The Iron Chef has aromatics in a saute pan and another
dipping sauce. Fraser is working on loin at the griddle.
Greg is working on chorizo. Adam is working peanuts,
salt, and pepper in a food processor. Greg is slicing
lomo. Next to the wok, the Iron Chef is working on
stir-fry pork. Shallots and black forbidden rice is
being cooked on the challenger's side. The Iron Chef has
ginger, marmalade, and orange zest working.
"Thirty minutes have
elapsed". Now the IC has spanakopita in rice paper while
her ice cream mixture is cooking. The challenger is
moving his grilled pork into the oven. Cora is now
working kebabs for grilling, while Fraser is making a
Jeffrey: "Whoever uses bacon
in every dish I will vote to win."
Meanwhile, the challenger is
whisking goat cheese into his polenta.... and the ice
cream is in... Meanwhile, the challenger's
cabbage/pork/apple mix is being cooked into some wine...
and the ice cream is out. "Twenty minutes to go."
Fraser is sauteeing hominy,
while cooking pork chops. His risotto is ready to plate,
while Cora is working ouzo into her stir-fry. She adds
the pork and olives. Fraser returns with plates.
Ti leaves are being used on
Cora's spanakopita. The corn and hominy on the
challenger's side is cooking with pancetta. Fraser is
working on his seared pork, which is now in the
Only 10 minutes left, as
Fraser is plating the polenta with corn hominy and
pancetta, while the IC is stir-frying pork, while
plating her spanakopita. Lorilynn adds a side salad of
fennel. She's plating some more like crazy with less
than seven on the clock.
Lorilynn is now working on a
pork-loin panini, while the challenger is plating a rib
chop. Fraser takes out a belly and a butt from his
pressure cooker. Fraser moves them to the salamander,
while Cora is plating her kebabs. Fraser's looking for
ring moulds, while Cora's blueberry panini pork is out,
as Cora adds some sprinkled dough. Looks like a bit of a
crumble. Fraser's working on his third dish. Back to the
IC's kebabs, which are getting some pomegranate molasses
for a finisher.
Fraser's pork loin is
finally finished, while Cora is finally plating her
bacon ice cream. And she's done, breaking out the ouzo,
while the challenger is still finishing two more dishes
with 1 minute and change to go. Hey, chef, you got time
to lean, you got time to clean....That goes for the
challenger as well as Fraser is almost done. Take
"Three... two... one..." Put
it down.. walk away. Battle Pork is history. And now,
Judgment (Cora): "Basically to span the whole
Mediterranean, really bring in the excitement of those
foods and some of the influences." Dishes: Lettuce Wraps
with Wok-Glazed Pork, Glazed Riblets with Fennel and
Orange Slaw, Garam Marsala and Chili Barbecue Pork
Skewers, Ouzo-Flamed Pork Shoulder and Spanakopita,
Panini-Pressed Pork with Bacon Ice Cream.
Judgment (Fraser): "I just wanted to stick to dishes
that I could put out in an hour." Dishes: Sautéed Fillet
of Pork with Risotto in Wine Sauce, Braised Pork Belly
with Forbidden Rice, Grilled Pork Chop with Corn &
Hominy Polenta, Roasted Loin of Pork with Chorizo-Lomo
Home Fries, Pork Tenderloin with Spaetzle and Bacon
Jay thinks that Cora's
pork wraps is a good starter and the smokiness of the
riblets. Jeffrrey thinks that the skewer is "ridiculous"
and the pork is overdone. The ouzo-flamed pork and
dessert win the judges, though. "This should be declared
illegal in most countries," Harry says. Now to the
challenger, as Jeffrey says that the pork is tough, but
makes it up with the braised belly with its crispy skin.
"Skin to win." The pork chop gets "high marks for
simplicity". Jay's happy to get a bacon fix. Harry loves
spaetzle and the cabbage.
Whose cuisine reigns
supreme? The verdict is...
... 51-48 in favor of
Challenger Neal Fraser. The Iron Chef had some wonderful
plates, but in the end, it was the taste of Fraser's
wares that had the judges eating like pigs...
That'll do it for this
series of ICA. Thanks for reading. Until next season, we
bid you good eating.