Crawford: Battle Peanut
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: Lynn
Crawford, who heads the kitchen as executive chef of the Four Seasons
Hotel in Toronto. Her restaurant Truffles has received the prestigious
AAA 5-Diamond award 12 years running, and tonight, the Contemporary
French maestra will have her hands full against Iron Chef Bobby Flay.
Canadian chefs seem to have a bone to pick with the Blue Tetsujin.
Prepare for battle.
The Crib Sheet:
Vicki Wells & Dan Mihalko, sous-chefs
Robert Bartley & Lora Kirk, sous-chefs
Ingredient: Runner, Virginia, and Spanish peanuts,
in whole, shelled, blanched, roasted and butter form.
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 that
best articulates the theme ingredient through his dishes
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!"
Hope no one's allergic,
because Battle Arachis hypogaea is on in Kitchen Stadium America!
About the theme ingredient: the peanut is originally from South
America, more specifically the area around Bolivia. The average American
consumes about six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter each year.
The Iron Chef starts with ribs, lobster, grapes, and halibut, while the
challenger is working celery root, raspberries, veal sweetbreads, and
parsnips. Both sides have proteins and aromatics going on to start the
battle. After 15 minutes, Flay has a chocolate mixture, while Crawford
is melting peanut butter and white chocolate together.
Culinary author Ted Allen ("Top Chef")
Fashion designer & entrepreneur Marc Ecko
Food critic Jeffrey Steingarten ("The Man Who Ate Everything")
Flay is going to fry the ribs in the wok. Those will go well with hot
chili based peanut sauce. Halfway into battle, Dan has dredged halibut
fillets in peanuts, Vicki finished a peanut butter sandwich, and there
is also a green-onion-peanut mix and a peanut butter custard. Challenger
has a peanut-butter-white-chocolate mixture, a peanut butter dough, and
smoking sea scallops with peanut shells.
Iron Chef Flay is still basting ribs, halibut is in the skillet, and
peanut-butter-coconut-milk is simmering. Challenger Crawford is
simmering veal parts with aromatics, and we have a milk-chocolate-peanut
mixture spread on a sheet.
More about the theme ingredient: the peanut legume is a crazy
little creature. It grows flowers on pegs, and once the flowers die, the
pegs continue to grow into the ground. That is where it makes peanuts.
They grow best in sandy soil, which is why you see a lot of peanut
plants in Georgia (Alton's home state).
Eggs, vanilla bean, peanut butter... ice cream? Crawford is working on
onion bhajas. They're also working on peanut butter pasta. Vicki,
meanwhile, is preparing the PB sandwiches for frying. Flay is working on
a soup. Seems like the challengers are coating everything in peanuts
(sort of the lead backup singer). The Iron Chef is not working on a
soup, but rather a manner of a sauce. Custard is coming out.
Challenger is working on peanut butter cups, peanut butter pasta, peanut
smokes scallops, and peanut coated veal tenderloins on the challengers'
side. Iron Chef has peanut butter custard, pan-fried peanut butter
sandwiches, and fried okra. Oh, and peanut butter ribs. Yum.
We're coming down to crunch time... literally. Crawford is cutting into
her veal tenderloin, while Vicki is rolling her chocolate into
beer-battered chocolate peanut balls. Crawford has begun to plate her
scallops with sultana raisins, soup, and is beginning on a stir-fry.
Flay is plating a peanut-lobster soup and halibut with coconut-curry
mixture. Crawford is finishing a pad-thai and veal tenderloin. The ribs
on the IC's side... perfect.
"Five minutes to go." The ponit-noir sauce is still reducing on the IC's
side. Vicki is firing the peanut-butter creme brulee.
So to sum up, we have on the challenger's side, there's a pad-thai,
scallops, peanut soup, peanut butter cups, and veal tenderloins. Iron
Chef's got a soup, halibut, the ribs, PB&J french toast, and the creme
brulee. And the Chairman's flipping over the desserts... "Three...
two... one..." Put it down, walk away, Battle Peanut is done!
Judgment (Crawford): "Who doesn't love peanuts? Pulled out some
favorites, childhood memories. We just had fun with peanuts."
- Inverted Pad Thai with Peanut Noodles
- Ants on a Log (Scallops with celery and golden sultanas)
- Indian Peanut Soup
- Peanut Veal Tenderloin with Chocolate Port Sauce
- Molten Chocolate Peanut Cake with raspberry sorbet
Dishes celebrate the peanut as a whole. The palate is left with the
Judgment (Flay): "Peanuts is actually an ingredient I love to
cook with because it very often is able to play off a lot of
ingredients, especially chili peppers."
- Peanut Lobster with Green Chile Soup
- Peanut Crusted Halibut
- BBQ Ribs with Peanut Red Chile Sauce
- Peanut French Toast
- Chocolate Peanut Creme Brulee with Peanut Beignets
Peanut flavor really stands out in the dishes. the ribs drive Marc to
tears, he's so happy. The interplay with classic dishes is on display.
But whose cuisine reigns supreme?
... 51-48 in
favor of Iron Chef Bobby Flay. There may have been some
creative plating from the challenger from the Great
White North, but it's taste where the Iron Chef achieved
his margin of victory.
Until next time, we bid you good eating.