"Batali vs. Besh: Battle
Andouille" - February 26
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 first challenger of season three is John Besh, the
head of the kitchen at August in New Orleans, which has
since reopened after Hurricane Katrina. He blends the
flavors of New Orleans Cajun style with the essence of
A change in this season..
The Chairman allows the challenger to choose his or her
opponent. He challenges Iron Chef Mario Batali. "I want
the best chef in America."
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
& Mark Ladner, sous-chefs
Erick Loos IV &
Todd Pulsinelli, sous-chefs
7-3, won last battle
against Tamara Murphy
The Theme Ingredient:
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: We're
off! Batali is caring parsnip while the team makes a
plan... Besh is cutting up andouille, a Louisiana
sausage. But compared to what he's been through, this
seems to be nothing...
"We wanted to get our
restaurant open as fast as possible. Now we're making
sure that our neighborhood restaurants are opened. Doing
what we can for the heart and soul of New Orleans
Mark is working on the
casing of the sausage while preparing Dungeness crab.
Besh broke down some andouille and added it to fish
stock. Todd is working on white asparagus, while Anne is
working on a pasta. Mark is processing the sausage,
while both challenging sous chefs get some preparing in.
About this ingredient. This
sausage is made from pork loin and shoulder, smoked over
pecan wood, and encased in a cow's intestine. The IC is
"going to boil the hell out of some greens." Besh is
boiling some sheets of gelatin, while he asks Batali if
he ever saw crawfish that big before. "Is that Texas
crawfish?" "That's a crawfish on steroids, yeah."
Batali is adding porcinis to
a base with parsnips and onion. Meanwhile... the thymus
of an young cow (or, of course, sweetbread)! Anne,
having failed with a cork screw, is going with a knife
to open up a bottle of wine. Meyer lemon curd going on
in the challenger's kitchen, while Batali is cooking up
a chile concoction while Anne is peeling asparagus.
The challenger is cooking
the skin of the sausage down, while Mark is cooking
partridges. The challenger is cooling the lobster they
had cooking. "Fifteen minutes have elapsed." Time to
TV anchor Lester Holt (NBC's "Today Weekend")
Author Melissa Clark ("Chef, Interrupted")
Chef/author Art Smith ("Back to the Table")
Back to Battle:
Thirty-seven minutes left, and we're cooking anchos and
asparagus. Besh is straining part of the crawfish boil
with sweet corn and sausage into the gelatin. "He's
making andouille jello." IC is making a polenta....
"Grits. We call it grits when we're dealing with
Blanched sweetbread gets
added with some apple cider for the challenger, while
the IC is making a ravioli with mint, broccoli, ramp,
and cheese. The artichokes are getting fried, while Mark
is making partridge broth.
The challenger is making a
chive oil. The Iron Chef is frying lemon pieces, while
the artichokes are out. Crawfish are boiled and blanched
on the challenger's side. Batali is frying cipolini
onions in olive oil, and the sausage is also cooking...
"Thirty minutes have
elapsed." The challengers are using andouille-infused
oil and a gelatin molds. He's got pasta, asparagus,
sweet bread, crawfish, and lobster, while the IC has
artichokes, cipolini, and partridge.
revisit a graphic from last season....
Andouille in America is made
from the shoulder (butt) the loin. In France, it's made
from the belly of either pigs or cows.
The casing is pure
intestine. You could use the synthetic stuff, but why
would you want to?
artichokes. All the Iron Chef. Besh piped andouille
mascarpone into a pasta for filling. Twenty minutes
left... The IC is making soup, while his lemons are off
the heat. The challenger made a vinaigrette to pair with
The challenger is using the
andouille to spice some scallops, while the Iron Chef is
making an onion-jalapeno relish. Tomatoes and olive
oil... sounds like a salt. The challenger is blanching
potatoes and porcinis for a puree. Anne is working on a
ravioli. Meanwhile, the challenger has agnolottis. Now
he's grilling split sausage. The Iron Chef is stuffing
porcini caps with andouille, bread crumbs, and parmesan
The Myer lemon curd is
starting to set. Batali is working on his
potatoes, while Besh's scallops sound like winners.
"These guys that I'm working with have lost their
apartments. Lost all their clothing. They lost
everything. To have a week to come up here to New York,
cook in Kitchen Stadium, it's just gonna be fun. We're
not going to sweat the small stuff."
"Fifteen minutes to go."
Mark is sprinkling paprika into the andouille oil, while
the challenger is working on grits. He strained it out
and added mascarpone to it. All this while he cooks
Anne is now making the
ravioli, but with less than 10 minutes remaining, she
has some time to make up. Meanwhile, the challenger is
making a crawfish boil en gelee. Meanwhile, the IC is
working all of his boilers going, meaning he has no room
to take his sausage broil to... until he sees the
salamander. The shrimp goes into the fire...
Besh has started plating his
en gelee and grits. The IC is asking for Hollandaise.
Anne is stuffing the artichokes, while the IC begins his
plating. "Five minutes to go." The fried sweetbread is
out. Batali is working from the outside of Kitchen
Stadium, while Besh is plating asparagus and beignets.
"Three minutes to go." Anne
is refrying her artichokes, while Eric is slicing
truffles. Meanwhile the triangle pasta is almost done on
the IC side. And I believe we have six on the
challenger's side... even with the beignets still
waiting to be plated.
The IC side is almost
finished plating their five. "One minute to go." Both
teams have spent the entire sixty minutes cooking, and
it looks like all six are down. It's now about the
finishing garnishes... "Five seconds... Three... two...
one..." Put it down.. walk away. Battle Andouille is
history. And now, judgment day.
Judgment (Batali): "When faced with Big Easy
sausage, we decided to match every course with the Big
Easy meets Italy." Dishes: Parsnip & Porcini Soup
with Stuffed Porcini, Andouille and Crab Stuffed
Artichoke, Polenta with Andouille Crab and Shrimp,
Broccoli Rabe & Mint Ravioli with Andouille Sauce,
Partridge & Sausage Scarpariello.
Judgment (Besh): "My theme was to make sure
andouille was the flavor that resonate with each dish." Dishes:
Crawfish Boil En Gelee, Andouille Agnolotti with
Sweetbread & Lobster, White Asparagus and Andouille Soup
& Salad, Crawfish & Andouille Grits, Scallops & Porcini
with Andouille Butter, Andouille Beignets with Meyer
Batali's courses match
big flavor with big flavor. Besh's courses balance
flavors while restraining on the theme ingredient. It
could go either way.
Whose cuisine reigns
supreme? The verdict is...
... 55-49 in favor of
Challenger John Besh. Besh received a perfect score in
plating, which sealed the victory in an otherwise close
match. Closing words from Alton: "There will be much
rejoicing in New Orleans tonight, and I doubt that there
is an American alive who minds the idea of that."
Until next time, we bid you