"Flay vs. Two Hot
Battle Turkey" - November 13
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
The Challenger: Mary
Sue Milliken & Susan Feniger, collectively known as the
Two Hot Tamales. Friends since 1978, they parlayed a
stint in Paris and knowledge of Modern Mexican into an
empire that includes four restaurants, five cookbooks,
and a show on this very network. They draw their Food
Network brethren, Bobby Flay in a west-coast east-coast
battle. Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Brian Ray & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
Kajsa Dilger, sous-chef
6-3, lost last battle to
The Theme Ingredient:
heritage turkey, just in time for Thanksgiving.
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: The bird
that Ben Franklin wanted to represent our country takes
center stage today. With only an hour to cook a turkey,
chances are we won't see a full bird, but that doesn't
mean it can't happen. After all, Morimoto steamed an
entire turkey in a vessie in the Christmas battle of
Meanwhile, Kajsa is grinding
for sausage. Meanwhile, Dan is working on lobster with
cranberries and OJ. OVer on the challenger's side, we
have rutabagas, fennel seeds, and kale. Also: turkey
eggs boiling. Some subtle differences. The IC fries up
breasts. Challengers are making turkey mousse, while the
IC is smoking cedar chips. The Tamales have rigatoni,
while Flay is getting his foundation up to speed with
more turkey breast and spice rub. It goes right onto his
weapon of choice, the grill. Milliken is mixing brown
sugar and butter. The mousse is being piped
into...something. We're guessing it's the rigatoni.
Meanwhile, Kevin's thinking,
"Thanksgiving in November... weird."
"Fifteen minutes to go."
Time to meet...
Culinary journalist Katy McLaughlin (The Wall Street
Author/culinary critic Jeffrey Steingarten ("It
Must Have Been Something I Ate")
MSNBC Journalist Natalie Morales ("The Today Show")
Back to Battle: We've
got cranberries and blueberries on the Iron Chef's side,
while the Challengers have yams. Bobby Flay demonstrates
some more athleticism with a throw of some chipotle to
Brian. The Tamales are working on some more fennel seed.
Meanwhile Flay is working on a gravy. We think some of
his presentations are going to be based on Thanksgiving.
Over on the challengers' side, Milliken is flattening
her breasts, while over on the IC's side, Dan is
deconstructing some lobster and mushrooms... not
together, of course. Meanwhile, the challengers'
sugar/butter mixture is actually a cookie mix that can
be formed before it sets.
The lobsters are going to be
used as stuffing, while mango and guava are stewed. The
mushrooms are ... well, we don't know what yet. The
turkey eggs on the challengers' side are out, ready to
be breaded. The IC have some chorizo and ancho chiles.
We think he's doing a map of the US.
And ladies and gentlemen...
the ice cream machine is on! It's on the challengers'
side. "Thirty minutes have elapsed." Halftime, and the
spiced turkey breasts are out on the IC side, and the
cookies are out on the challengers' side. Flay's calling
for habaneros, balancing sweet with heat. Milliken is
making "bowls" for her turkey ice cream. The IC is
ladling broth into his roasted turkey. Feniger is
sautéing rutabagas, while Dan is working on a mire pois
And turkey ice cream is out!
Flay is working on four
aromatic gravies. Which will go with which? And heh, I
was right. Milliken is stuffing rigatoni is turkey.
Meanwhile, Kevin tries the ice cream... "Interesting."
And Flay has begun to plate rice while he does have some
sort of "across America with turkey" thing going on.
Milliken is chopping turkey hearts, while Feniger is
starting to pick up the pace with 20 minutes to go. Iron
Chef has guava puree with the cranberries done. The
challengers' rigatoni is being braised in cream.
"Fifteen minutes to go." Man.. Thanksgiving is hard.
The Iron Chef is dicing
plantains, while the challengers have started (and
finished) plating one dish. The plantain chips are being
fried while the IC plates his first dish, while the
challengers are plating their second dish. Six minutes
to plate, Mr. Flay. And that he does. The Southwest dish
is done, while the challengers' Scotch egg is done. The
mango-glazed turkey is done on the IC side, while the
Tamales are plating their final dish, the turkey sorbet.
There are five minutes left. Better to wait. They may be
a bit premature in their plating. We'll see how it flies
on the judges' side.
Milliken has gone ahead and
plated her sorbet, while the IC is plating on time as he
matches turkey dishes with their appropriate cranberry
Turkey trivia: did you know
that turkey is the first meal to be consumed by man on
"One minute to go." If it's
going to happen, then it's got to happen soon. The
turkeys on the planks are out. That's going to be Flay's
final dish. Now it's all about the fine touches. "Five seconds... Three...
Two... One..." Put it down, walk away, Battle
Turkey is history. Now to judge... The Tamales call it
"a blast." The Iron Chef welcomes the challenge from
these "wonderful ladies."
Judgment (Tamales): "We wanted to make sure we used
everything. We incorporated the whole turkey."
Dishes: Turkey Albondigas Soup, Turkey Scotch Egg,
Turkey Stuffed Rigatoni, Escalope of Turkey, Wild Turkey
Judgment (Flay): "This could actually be my
favorite ingredient, because Thanksgiving is my favorite
day of the year. We're taking you on a trip to different
parts of the country, Thanksgiving style." Dishes: Red
Chile Spiced Turkey, Grilled Turkey Breast, Deep-Fried
Turkey, Cedar-Roasted Turkey, Mango-Glazed Turkey
Jeffery didn't really think
much of the challenger today, but he liked the rigatoni
as the "poor man's foie gras". As for the
sorbet... "You get very high points for originality." As
for the Iron Chef... Jeffrey really lets Flay have it
this time, while Natalie starts to finally get it toward
the end. But one question remains... Whose cuisine
reigns supreme? The verdict...
... Needless to say here,
but I'll let the Chairman do his job. "It's a tie!
Congratulations to both sides!" Final score: 42-42. This
is one of those rare times when the scores speak for
themselves. Until next time, I bid you good