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Iron Chef America: Battle Bourbon!

It was late last night and I was contemplating going to bed.  It was 11pm and I was getting a little bleary after watching my current televised guilty pleasure; the “Next Iron Chef America.”  Right after the “Next Iron Chef” airs they try to hook you into watching Iron Chef America.  Good thinking on the network execs part, but my sleep meter was waining and it was time to go up to bed.  But what the heck, I’ll stay up just to see what the secret ingredient is.  I love it when it is some sort of crazy fish or something.  Especially if they have to butcher it, or better yet cook it alive!

Well when the chairman introduced the “Secret Ingredient” imagine my surprise when they lifted the lid and there were dozens of bottles of…bourbon!  I now knew that I would be forgoing at least another hour’s sleep while I watched all the weird and wonderful uses these gifted chefs came up with my favorite beverage on earth.  Of course this is Iron Chef and one thing they are very conscious about is product placement…they don’t do it!  So all the labels were removed from the various bottles.  Three of the four bourbons were easily identifiable based on the bottle.  They had Maker’s Mark Whisky, Maker’s Mark White Dog, which is whiskey with no barreling, basically straight from the still.  I’d love to find that here in Idaho, but so far I have been unable to find any unaged whiskey in this state.  They had Blantons as their rye whiskey, the horse on the cap gave that away in a big way, and then they had another wheat bourbon, it looked like it might be Pappy Van Winkles.  Whether it was the 15 year, the 20 year, or the 23 year I couldn’t tell.

So those were the bourbons they were cooking with.  What did they make?  This is where it gets interesting…

They made all sorts of wonderful concoctions.  On the Iron Chef’s side Cat Cora made:

1) Toro Tuna that was marinated in a blend of the White Dog and the Blantons.  It was then braised on a skillet and sliced into bite sized pieces with a bourbon eel sauce drizzled on top.

2) Bourbon infused pan seared sea scallop atop a creamed corn chutney that had bourbon infused in the sauce.

3) Bourbon and mustard marinated skirt steak that was atop a sweet potato waffle.  That looked really good!

4) A Chicken wing that had been marinated in bourbon, then de-boned and stuffed with a chicken sausage that had bourbon and cream and spices in it.  I love the idea of a chicken stuffed chicken wing.  With this she also served a bourbon cocktail that was made from bourbon (Blantons), Apple cider, and a strip of candied bacon in the drink.  Interesting.

Finally, Cat Cora prepared an apple bundt that was just apples (no cake) that had been bourbon glazed then cooked a bit and laid in a bundt pan (a really small one) then that was placed on a plate, taken out of the pan, and a scoop of bourbon icecream was put in the middle.  then there was this awesome caramel bourbon sauce to throw over the top!

God I love bourbon!  Look how versatile it is.  Not only is it a great drink, but just look at all these uses and the flavors they bring.  Wow.  So what about the challenger?

The Challenger was Chef Paul Miranda.  He is an executive chef at some posh New York Country Club.  Of course it had a 5 star rating, so you know the place is amazing.  His creations were equally impressive.

1) Yellow Fin tuna that was marinated in bourbon then braised with a torch.  This looked amazing.  It was just the loin of the tuna, not the filet, so it was long and narrow, about an inch thick square.  Yum!

2) Pork cheeks that were marinated in bourbon with a bourbon glaze reduction sauce and a White dog Slaw.  Man it made my mouth water just looking at it on the screen!

3) Kobe Wagu Beef filet that was again marinated in a bourbon sauce that was like a brine with citrus fruits, tyme and other spices.  It was then braised in a pan and served with a reduction sauce and some sort of bourbon infused butternut squash.  Amazing!

4) Grilled Quail that he dumped bourbon over and caused a big flare up, but the quail cooked perfectly with a light char, then he dipped them all in a cranberry and bourbon reduction for plating.

5) finally his dessert was three in one.  First was a Bourbon brown sugar sauce on the plate with a mini souflet on top the sauce, next was a chocolate bourbon cordial meant for sipping, then finally was another version of bourbon ice cream.

It all looked amazing!  Simply amazing, and it gave me several ideas on how to cook with bourbon.  Of course I think that cooking with Maker’s Mark is probably its highest and best use (not a big fan), but with its heat forward profile I could see where this would be a great use for this bourbon.

In the end, the Iron Chef won…but I think it was kind of a tie.  See the way the points are given out are up to 10 points for flavor, 5 points for plating design, and 5 points for originality.  They tied dead even on Originality and flavor.  Plating is where the iron chef won the day.  Her food looked prettier sitting on the plate.  So if you can stack beef better, or put flowers on a plate you win.  Kind of a hokey win for the iron chef, but really the winner was me!  I got tons of cooking ideas, and I have a boat load of bourbon to use for cooking, so I will be experimenting.  All in all, sleep is over rated.  What’s next on Food Network?…

-Don

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23 Comments on “Iron Chef America: Battle Bourbon!”

  1. October 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Just what you needed – novel new ways to ingest bourbon.

    I’ll call Kentucky – they’re gonna need more barrels!

    • Don
      October 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

      DO that! It will be necessary. 😉

  2. Brandon
    October 26, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    I once went to a Jack Daniels event and they had a three course meal that incorporated their whiskey in all the food. It was pretty dang outstanding. Can’t recall the last time I consumed Jack Daniels though….

    • Don
      October 26, 2010 at 10:30 am #

      Again, I think some things are better used for cooking. JD falls into that category. My wife makes a whiskey Pecan Pie that uses JD..It’s freakin amazing. But yeah, it is something less than a go to for me.

  3. Rachel
    October 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    There are Maker’s events as well with the bourbon incorporated into all the courses of the meal – things like that are pretty fantastic. My favorite may still be the simple bourbon balls. But when Food Network finally posts the recipes I can’t wait to try the bourbon ice cream.

    I am on the other side though of Maker’s being just for cooking. I think the reason it makes such a nice drink is also that “heat forward profile” which pretty much means it doesn’t burn the back of your mouth going down. It compliments the subtlety of say ginger ale nicely because of that smoothness.

    • Don
      October 26, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

      I’ve got no problem with anyone spending their money or drinking, or even liking Maker’s Mark. Just not my thing. I looooooooove (yes that is love with 9 o’s) Makers 46. Very good bourbon. It is everything Maker’s should be but is not. I can also see where Makers would be good for mixing, but I don’t drink mixed drinks. The Bourbon Ice cream looked pretty good too. Might try to make some of that myself. However they had one of those machines where you just pour all the ingredients in and it spits out ice cream by magic.

      I saw somewhere a schedule for repeats of this episode. Looks like they will be re-airing it 4 or 5 times this week.

  4. Douglas Fischer
    October 28, 2010 at 8:11 pm #

    I saw Battle Bourbon as well, and couldn’t help pouring myself a dram during the first commercial break.

    The third bourbon I had trouble identifying the bottle, but I was pretty sure from the start it looked like Booker’s. What threw me was that Alton Brown referred to it as “unfiltered wheat bourbon”. Now Booker’s is of course unfiltered and also cask strength. However, it is not a wheat bourbon. It is unlike AB to make a mistake so I spent a good bit of time going through all sorts of unlabeled bottle images (and looking through my own collection) to see if I could identify the bottle.There are only so many wheat bourbons out there, and none of them had a bottle that matched. The closest was Parker’s Heritage (the latest version of which is wheated).

    I am fairly certain Booker’s is indeed the third bourbon included in the competition. I am just surprised that it was mistakenly referred to as a wheat bourbon.

    I would love to know the process by which the IC staff chose these particular bourbons – there are such a wide variety to choose from with such different flavor profiles.

    All in all, a really good battle. It was great seeing Kevin Smith as one of the judges as well.

    • Don
      October 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

      Doug, you are the second person to say he thought it was Bookers, and that Alton Brown’s reference was confusing, as Bookers is not a wheater. That said, it was a pretty impressive array of food that was prepared using bourbon. I thought the challenge really spoke to bourbon’s versatility as an ingredient in cooking. I too would like to know how they came up with their selections. I would like to think that it had more to do with the properties of the bourbon, and less to do with sponsorships and product placement $$.

  5. Amy
    October 28, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    I’m glad to see people are as excited as I am to have a “battle bourbon”. It’s not only fun to drink but an awesome ingredient. I never would have thought of marinating scallops and bourbon together and look forward to trying it soon. Also bourbon ice cream would be a great compliment to any apple dessert. I have made bourbon pumpkin cheesecake and it has been a special dessert not only as my wedding “cake” but a staple at thanksgiving. All I can say is bourbon rules…

    • Don
      October 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

      AMY>>>I WANT THAT RECIPE!!! I will post it here and give you all the credit! That sounds like a must for both Thanksgiving and Christmas!

      I was actually pretty excited for that battle too, now that I think about it. I watched way more intently and really had an interest in what they were making and how.

      Please consider the Recipe too. I’d love to post it, make the cheesecake, and post about it again.

  6. October 29, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    This Kentucky girl loves her some bourbon! Didn’t catch the Iron Chef episode when it first aired so I had to wait for the re-run. So glad I didn’t blow it off. I spent the whole episode thinking what I would prepare if chosen to compete in battle bourbon. Bourbon apple glazed pork tenderloin (recipe at http://www.bitofthebluegrass.com) Grilled Game Bird with a dried cherry bourbon chutney, Bourbon Sweet Potato Pecan Casserol, and for dessert? What else but bread pudding with a bourbon hard sauce. YUM!

    • Don
      October 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      Now you’re talking Keila! Want to come to my house and cook for Thanksgiving? I’ll supply all the bourbon you need! I will be making the apple Glazed Pork Tenderloin recipe! Thanks!

  7. October 31, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    What an astute observation on the Pappy Van Winkles. I noticed it too and think it’s the 15 year. By the way, I will be in Idaho over Thanksgiving and would love to get together…I do have Stagg.

  8. Bonnie
    November 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Thank you for this post. I watched this episode while recovering from surgery and I remembered everything looking and sounding great but the only dishes I could actually remember were the squash and the spaetzle. I made my own version, using Jack Daniels and after a little tweaking I believe it will be part of Thanksgiving!

    • Don
      November 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

      Sounds great Bonnie. That is a very good Idea. We have a butternut squash sitting on the Dining Room table at home. I feel an experiment coming on!

  9. November 6, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Cooking with PAPPY? Isn’t that a waste of a very expensive and difficult-to-find bottle? I know when I buy Pappy for my husband, it’s hard to find and goes for over $100. One of his favorite drinks in the world. That and Edradour “straight from the cask.”

    • Don
      November 6, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

      I have been told that it might be Bookers. I didn’t think so, because Alton Brown kept referring to it as Unfiltered Wheat Bourbon. But we all know Bookers is a very good rye bourbon. So I was guessing at the Pappy 15. Looking at the bottle, however I think Alton was wrong and it was indeed Bookers. It is also a great unfiltered cask strength small batch bourbon.

      • Douglas Fischer
        November 6, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

        After rewatching the battle and carefully examining the bottle it was definitely Bookers. It is rare for AB to make a mistake but in this case he was mistaken in referring to it as wheated.

        Even if it had been a Pappy’s expression it would have been a younger expression than the 23-year, which is the really pricey one. If they were to have used Pappy 23 it wouldn’t be the most expensive ingredient they’ve used on Iron Chef (I believe that honour goes to Battle Abelone), but I think the characteristics of such an old bourbon would have been very difficult to cook with.

        Cheers.

      • Don
        November 7, 2010 at 11:45 am #

        I think that the most expensive ingredient they have ever battled with was battle Truffle! They kept talking about how much was going into each dish and how expensive it would be to purchase or make said dish at home because of the cost of the truffles.

      • November 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

        I think it’s the Pappy 20 that we buy…when we can find/afford it! We were introduced to it one Valentine’s Day when I used to live in Manhattan. Dan (husband) and I were dating and he lived in Boston – so was in town for the weekend. The restaurant drastically overbooked and we were waiting for three hours at the bar (sitting next to some guy who had a bit part in Bad Boys 2 – a very nice guy). The chef was so apologetic. He saw Dan drinking bourbon and went down the street and came back with the Pappy in a paper bag and poured one for both Dan and the actor we were sitting with. And thus began a love affair with Pappy…we never ate dinner. We went home and ordered Chinese and Dan was asleep facedown on the couch before I could serve it up!

        • Don
          November 8, 2010 at 10:57 am #

          That’s a great story, but with results like that I’m sure you would want to be very careful in your use of the Pappy. 😉

  10. November 10, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    All of these bourbons are making me thirsty! Also, I would have never thought of marinating chicken with bourbon…. yum! We finally had a distillery open here in Eastern Washington that I can’t wait to try.

    • Don
      November 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm #

      Are you talking about the Dry Fly in Spokane? I’m going to pick up some of their whiskey. Looks interesting.

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