Episode 1 of All Star Academy was quite a whirl wind! To bring you up to speed on what this hot potato has been up to read my previous post. Below is a run down of the show from my point of view as well the recipe for my Albondigas Soup.
All Star Academy has scoured the nation to find the top 10 home cooks in America (this includes yours truly as part of the home cooks cast!), and brought them together to compete under the tutelage of Food Network’s All Star Chefs: Bobby Flay, Alex Guarnaschelli, Curtis Stone & Michael Symon. In episode one, the 10 of us had to compete for a spot on one of their teams, oh yeah, and the big winner last person standing at the end of the series will walk away with $50,000! Not too shabby huh?
The most terrifying moment… serving up my dish for these All Stars to judge!
Bobby Flay checking in to peak at my process.
Here’s the first show: CHOOSING TEAMS
Bobby Flay picked me to be on his team!!! Please forgive the chest thumping, but actually I was his very first pick, and the 2nd pick of the group overall! I am still pinching myself! It was a surreal moment.
Our challenge was to make a dish which incorporated 4 main ingredients, one each chosen by the star chefs: Chipotle Peppers, Slab Bacon, Avocados, and Heirloom Tomatoes.
I knew that the two bold ingredients, chipotles and bacon, could easily over power any dish. So I decided I would grind my slab bacon down with some lean pork chops to cut the fat and incorporate the chipotles in to that meat mixture to make some delicious and tender albondigas (spanish style meatballs). To incorporate Curtis & Alex’s ingredients I served the meatball soup with fresh slices of avocado and a tomato + bacon jam grilled cheese.
I tweaked the recipe a bit once I got home and took a few measurements so you can now enjoy it too.
1/2 lb slab bacon (if you can find it) or regular thick cut bacon will due
1 1/2 lb ground lean pork
2 7oz. cans chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2-3 eggs (2 extra large or 3 small eggs)
64 oz Chicken stock
2 cups Trinity (onion, celery, carrot) fine diced
sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
Salt & Pepper to taste
You’ll need a meat grinder to pull this one off. If you don’t have one you can certainly just chop the bacon up in to tiny bits. I have done this before and it works ok, but it was a lot of extra effort. The meat grinder is definitely the way to go if you have one. I just used this attachment on my kitchen aid machine.
Begin by grinding your bacon & chipotle peppers together. On the show I had to also grind my own pork (and I used some lean pork chops which you could too), but to save a little step at home I used already ground pork. Grind the canned chipotle peppers in with the bacon, and add the adobo sauce from the can to the whole mix.
Once the meat is ground, add the bread crumbs and the raw eggs. Mix well with your hands to combine and then roll in to quarter size balls.
This is a great time to get your stock simmering. In a stock pot sauté the ‘trinity’ with a little oil and salt to taste. When the onions are just translucent add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer.
Pre heat a skillet to medium-high with enough canola oil to coat your pan.
In your pre heated skillet start searing off your meatballs. Just brown the outside all around, but don’t cook all the way through. This will help them retain their shape. When each ball is perfectly browned then plop it in to the simmering stock. repeat until all your meatballs are simmering in the veggie-chicken stock.
Let the meatballs continue to cook all the way through in the stock pot for about 20 minutes. To check for done-ness, take one out and cut in half- if the center is still pink, it needs to cook more.
Serve with sliced fresh avocados in the bowl, and garnish with hand torn cilantro.