(Note:This was a two hour episode. So I will break the commentary into two parts.)
Last week we saw Jaimee depart leaving Courtney, Christian, Christian, Cutter, and Leslie. Now that we are down to the final five, the pressure is really on. To add more to that pressure, select friends or family members drop by. Aside from the previews, the big clue is the very big mystery box that usually signifies either a special guest or a very unusual food challenge ahead. In this case it was Courtney’s six year old brother who she does not see often. Cutter’s adoptive father and Christian’s girlfriend are also there. Elizabeth gets to see her husband and we finally get to see the woman that is married to Leslie. Gordon asks jokingly if she ever found his off switch. She quips not in 20 years or words to that effect. Then the family members tell them food they miss, which becomes the challenge for the evening.
Of course being Masterchef it has to be upscale. Christian’s girlfriend likes his gumbo and he has to do that in an hour! Gumbo, depending on the recipe, can take from just under three hours to several hours. He manages to pull it off to the delight of the judges. Graham calls it a taste of the ocean. Courtney did a macaroni and cheese with truffles and lobster and topped with a quail egg. Now that was daring and she pulls it off as well. Finally Elizabeth brings up her meatballs and grits. The meatballs are made with different meats, herbs, and tomato sauce. And the grits were good as well. Elizabeth is the winner while Leslie and Cutter stand in the back disappointed they were not called up.
Just a bit of culinary history. In the old days people had to make sure every part of an animal that was slaughtered did not go to waste. One it maximized its use and second did not waste anything. The highest quality cuts went to those who could afford them leaving the less popular ones for those on more tight budgets. So Elizabeth gets to select some parts that her fellow contestants will be cooking up–ox heart, lamb’s heart, veal brains, and buffalo testicles. Yummy! Elizabeth’s facial ticks while they show these parts shows how she tried to keep from showing her disgust (or desire to upchuck). She was glad not to have to cook any of them and of course is immediately in the top four. Back out in the main area, they are not that thrilled either at having to cook these parts. Of course Elizabeth choose which ones they would cook.
Courtney got the bull testicles. Elizabeth figured it would throw her for a loop. Perhaps for a moment or two but she took the challenge head on. A miss by Elizabeth on this one. Instead of flailing, she cooked them to perfection by what the judges said. Bravo!
Cutter got the ox heart. It is a large mass that looks suitable for long braising. For perhaps the first time, Cutter produces a stellar dish that wows the judges. The Cutter Zone has finally arrived. At first it looked bad for him but the final presentation was awesome.
Leslie got the lamb’s tongue. At least it was not veal brains. But Leslie did not clean the tongue properly leaving an unpleasant aftertaste in Gordon’s mouth. It also did not look stellar either but it was not all bad. Still at this stage of the game, the smallest thing out of place will send you home.
Christian got the brains. They try to make it sound less awful by saying “veal brains” but of course veal comes from cattle (young cattle to be precises). Head cheese used to be made from either pig or cow brains (it still is in some places)mostly though it is just spices and meat not from brains anymore. I thought Christian would nail this one but instead he got flustered, twisted, and turned around. It alarmed the judges to see him flailing about. For Elizabeth, it was a direct hit. He produced an awful dish overall though the brains were good. But everything else about the dish was all bad.
Courtney won the round proving she can take just about anything thrown her way. Cutter also got the save as well and now there are three in the final four. That leaves the judges to decide between Christian or Leslie. Unfortunately Christian is sent home. A very talented young man who found this challenge a bridge too far. He leaves with his head high and Gordon offering to invest in his food truck. That is one food truck I would visit and likely will do very well. Now we have the final four: Courtney, Cutter, Elizabeth and Leslie. And in the next round it will be two teams (boys vs girls) duking it out to win a coveted spot in the top three. The losing team compete against each other in a culinary thunderdome. Just without Mel Gibson.