Today, I was thrilled and excited to receive a copy of the MasterChef Australia Cookbook (Volume 1). Thanks to Mel (representing Adriano Zumbo) and Random House (publishers), it arrived in time for me to rush home and whip up a recipe from one of the MasterChef contestants.
So what is the book like? It covers the basics, such as how to julienne a carrot and make stock, through to the recipe for Adriano Zumbo's croqembouche and Matt Moran's chocolate tart. And everything in between. The dishes made by the contestants are also featured, and it's fun to relive those episodes from the television series (I'd forgotten that Aaron made a lychee and raspberry Ispahan) - and the text in the book contains quotes from the contestants, as well.
The photos in the book are wonderful, with the closeup detail of the celebrity chefs' dishes being particularly good. Of course, there are also lots of pictures of the MasterChef contestants, though they don't overwhelm what is essentially a cookbook. Sprinkled throughout are useful tips from the chefs and judges, such as how to weigh eggwhites, and not to cover your pig's head when it's resting (it will cause leathery skin if you do: 'Steam is the enemy of crackle' - Matt Preston).
Living out my fantasy of being on MasterChef Australia
Premiering tonight is Sam's chicken and rosti dish. This was mainly because it looked good, and I needed something quick for dinner. Sam says in the book that the dish was part of the invention test for which they had 45 minutes. Mine took about an hour, all because I had to stop and take photos (that's my excuse, at least). I also changed the recipe slightly to use chicken pieces (2 thighs and 2 drumsticks) instead of a whole chicken.
The final dish was fantastic - the chicken was moist, the tomatoes were sweet and caramelly, and the rosti were cooked to perfection. In the words of judge George Calombaris, 'I could eat a whole plate of this'. Well, it is dinner after all...
Sam's pan-roasted chicken with potato and zucchini rosti
2 chicken thighs on the bone, and 2 drumsticks, skin on
2 tbs olive oil
8 cherry truss tomatoes, stem attached
1/4 tsp rosemary
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 medium scrubbed potatoes, eg. coliban, desiree, grated
2 medium zucchini, grated
1/4 tsp crushed garlic
oil, to shallow fry
1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Drizzle chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large ovenproof frying pan over high heat, add chicken and brown on both sides.
2. Place pan in the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, mix the butter with the parsley until combined. Put the mixture into some cling wrap, roll into a log shape and seal. Chill in refrigerator.
4. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the grated potato and zucchini. Place in a bowl with the garlic and season with salt and pepper.
5. Heat about 3mm of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Divide potato mixture into 4 portions and roll into a ball. Flatten them out and place in the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until golden.
6. To 'plate up', place a fritter on the plate, and top with chicken pieces. Top with parsley butter and serve with tomatoes.
Recipe adapted from MasterChef Australia The Cookbook (Vol 1)
Pan frying the chicken before baking in the with the tomatoes. You will notice that I am using the STOVEN part of my Microstoven pan for this. The zucchini and potato rosti are then pan-fried.
The cherry truss tomatoes were fantastic - being baked in chicken juices definitely helped.
Good one, Sam! This is a great simple dish, and a worth winner of the first invention test.
Other recipes I'm keen to try are Justine's lamb roulade and Matt Moran and Andrew Honeysett's warm pear tart. Poh's Buddha's delight with its fried gluten and vegetables is another one that leaps out. I'm feeling rather inspired now, and I suppose that's the sign of a good cookbook.