My turn on the chopping block. This week, Nick chose “peanuts” as the secret ingredient, and I produced a most delectable meal of Asian influence.
My sous chef arrived in State College in time to accompany me to Wegmans for ingredients selection. Though not as refined as the Wegmans south of the Mason Dixon line, we found the items needed for the menu. After a detour to Otto’s Pub to fill a growler with Oktoberfest, we headed home to begin preparation.
First on the agenda: Assemble the pork marinade–a combination of soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger. (Nick quickly learned that the common Asian ingredient, ginger, has quite a bite in its raw form.) After Nick sliced the meat into perfect strips, it soaked in the marinade while onions and peanuts sautéed on the stovetop. A blend of veggies–including broccoli, green beans, and water chestnuts–was added after the meat cooked through in the skillet. My sous chef’s next task was to cook the rice. Despite adding two tablespoons rather than two teaspoons of butter to the side dish (perhaps he’s been watching too much Paula Dean?), the rice provided a pleasant (and decadent) bed for the pork stir-fry. To accompany the main course, I whipped together a simple, yet creative, concoction of peanuts, peanut butter, and orange marmalade with a Vidalia onion base tossed with spinach leaves, red onions, and mandarin oranges. Peanuts roasted in a blend of garlic and chili powder provided the final layer of tantalizing taste.
The meal was served on platters of red and yellow to provide a colorful presentation. And after just one bite, Nick declared “victory!” The flavor of peanuts infused throughout the dishes was subtle and surprising.
What about dessert, you ask? Well, after we stuffed ourselves with second helpings, we had no room for the peanutty finale, and so it was served the following day. I added homemade peanut butter sauce and store-bought chocolate sauce to French Vanilla ice cream, topped the sundaes with crushed candies, and finished them with wedges of Peanut Butter Cups. Yes, I did play upon my partner’s weakness for the sweet and salty combination. And, yes, he did give me the highest points awarded thus far in competition.
Peanuts (and their peanut butter counterpart) possessed the potential to be a sticky battle, but I thoroughly impressed my culinary companion.
Recipes from the Battle