"All-Star Tag Team Battle:
Battle Cranberry" - November 12
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
be shown. This, however, is a special case...
The Chairman has put a
challenge to two of Food Network's most popular stars to
enter the heat of battle against the Iron Chefs. The two
have worked with the Iron Chefs in preparation for the
battle, and the secret ingredient awaits, but as always,
the Chairman has a few surprises up his sleeve. Let's
Rachael Ray of "30 Minute Meals" and Giada de Laurentiis
of "Everyday Italian." One has several cookbooks out and
is the hostess of her own talk show in syndication. The
other, a private chef and caterer based in Los Angeles,
is the granddaughter of a movie directing legend and has
parlayed her classical Italian training into a few
cookbooks of her own.
Both chefs have asked the
Chairman for the opportunity to battle each other in
Kitchen Stadium, but before they do, he has asked that
they spend time studying with two of his best Iron
Chefs, Mario Batali and Bobby Flay. Giada goes to study
with Flay, while Rachael goes to study with Batali.
The two enter KSA, thinking
that they will battle each other alone... but nay, as
the Chairman sends in the very maestros that prepared
them for battle. Giada will cook alongside Flay, while
Rachael cooks with Batali.
Prepare for battle...
The Crib Sheet:
Dan Mihalko, sous-chef
Anne Burrell, sous-chef
The Theme Ingredient:
Cranberries, in fresh, dried, juiced, and sauced
The Rules: Each team
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 team that
best articulates the theme ingredient through their dishes
The Ruby Tuesday battle
clock is set at 60 minutes, which will start when the
Chairman, with full heart and empty stomach, utters the words of
his dear uncle.... "Allez cuisine!"
Opening thoughts from
Rachael: "Being surrounded by real chefs when you're not
one really builds a lot of tension. But that's why I
wanted to do it. I wanted to face my fear."
Opening thoughts from Giada:
"I think my fear is I'll freeze... I won't know what to
do. It's about time. It's about making sure you stick to
a schedule. I think that almost stresses me out more
than my food."
Comedian/media gadfly Mo Rocca (NPR's "Wait Wait...
Don't Tell Me")
Journalist Jill Bernstein (senior editor, Entertainment
Fashionista David Evangelista ("The Early Show")
Rachael is boiling spaghetti
in wine. Meanwhile, she's making a sausage ragout for...
something. Flay is working on a tamale and some venison
shanks. Batali is making a parfait using panettoni,
while Giada is working with a zeppole.
Later in the battle, Batali
tries to get the judges all nice and drunk with a
cranberry bellini toast. The Chairman will allow it.
Jeopardy!-prep moment: Many people believe
cranberries are grown in lakes. They're not. They're
grown in bogs which are flooded. The ripe ones rise to
the top and are harvested.
With 12:30 left, Batali has
begun to plate his fregola and another dish, with
caramelized cranberries. Flay is grabbing his first
plate for a brioche. Giada begins her plating with 10
minutes to go, while Rachael is still working her
ragout. Flay is working on cranberry cod cheek
Batali's zuppa inglese...
done. Rachael's pancetta-wrapped shrimp... done. Looks
like we're also plating cranberry polenta. They'll go
together. Giada is plating her ravioli. RAchael is
plating wine-cooked bucatini. Batali plates his turkey
And with one minute to go,
it's all over but the garnishing.
"Three... two... one...
Time's up." Battle Cranberry is in the books.
Rachael thought the hour was excruciating, while Giada
thought that was the fastest hour of her life. Flay: "If
you want a rematch, you better call Don King."
Judgment (deLaurentiis/Flay): "Cranberries are
a very versatile ingredient. They can be sweet. They can
be savory. I consider it a very American ingredient, so
I was happy to see it. It's also one that Giada would
think of right away because of her Italian heritage. I
think we were very happy with what we saw."
Dishes: Cranberry Custard French Toast, Squash &
Cranberry Ravioli, Cranberry and Duck Confit Tamales,
Venison Osso Buco with Cranberry Risotto, Cranberry
Judgment (Ray/Batali): Batali: "I think our
inspiration was to understand the bitterness and the
sweetness of the cranberry to make it sweet at the same
time." Rachael: "Ditto." Dishes: Cranberry Ajo
Blanco, Pancetta-wrapped Cran-glazed Shrimp, Drunken
Bucatini with Sausage and Cranberries, Turkey Osso Buco
with Saffron Cranberry Fregola, Panettone Zuppa Inglese.
Giada and Flay's dishes look
like gifts, but what about the taste? Kind of mixed.
David liked the ravioli, but didn't LOVE it. And when it
wasn't sweet, it was too tart. The dessert won raves and
a question as to whether or not Italian police eat
Rachael and Batali's dishes
ran the gamut of flavorful to overwhelming. Mo begs to
differ whether Rachael is a chef or not. quote of the
night goes to Mo: "Alton said that panettone was brought
by the Crusaders. If they brought your panettone, no one
would've been able to resist conversion."
But whose cuisine reigns
supreme? The verdict...
... 53-46 in favor of
Iron Chef Mario Batali and Rachael Ray. Going to the
floor... Rachael: "That hour goes by so much faster than
my show." And Giada? "It's a pressure cooker. I felt
like I had to go faster than I've ever gone before."
But with all the accolades
she won... TV cook... her own talk show... Oprah's BFF...
best-selling cookbooks... Rachael Ray can now add
"Iron Chef Champion" to her mantle.
Until next time, we bid you