Rob Benes, Challenge 3
I prepared a classic Mexican soup with a new and easy method that can save the home cook time in the kitchen: Flame-Broiled Pozole served with Mexican Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.
I decided to make a pozole because three of the mystery ingredients were perfect substitutes to use in this classic recipe. The pork slices I used instead of traditional chunks of pork and the ketchup instead of tomatoes or tomato paste. The popcorn was turned into a Spiced Mexican Popcorn instead of tortilla strips.
I was pumped when I saw what was in the bag. I immediately thought of something that was Mexican-inspired when I saw the pork slices and read the ingredients of the ketchup. The pork slices only needed to be rewarmed, so I knew that I couldn't put a direct flame on them, or they would get dried out and tough so I decided to simmer them in stock. The popcorn threw me a curve at first, but I knew some kind of flavor or spices were needed to amp up the flavor. The mushrooms were my biggest challenge because the portobllos were so big. At first, I thought about chopping them up, but then I thought they could serve as a serving vessel with a filling of some sort for a side dish.
Everyone thought the pozole was very flavorful, rich and satisfying. My tasters also liked that they had a choice of adding a variety of garnishes. They also enjoyed the stuffed mushrooms because of the different textures with the meaty mushrooms, toothsome quinoa, soft vegetables, and spiciness from the Mexican Spiced Popcorn and ketchup. They also liked the presentation of both recipes -- one tester said, "They recipes are very eye-appealing."
I really enjoyed this challenge, because I felt there was a lot of flavor building in making my pozole in a shorter time frame and using alternative ingredients.
The serving of pozole as an entree and the portobello as a side is a full meal (in fact, the portobello can be cut in half and shared due to the large size of the mushroom). The flavors and textures of both complement each other and work well.