In this episode of MasterChef, the remaining six contestants won't be cooking. Judging from my Season 3 experiences, I don't take this as a good sign. Sure enough, past Season 4 contestants return to battle their way back into the MasterChef kitchen. During my season, eight previously eliminated cooks returned, each handpicking an ingredient for their collective mystery box. This time, however, the judges have pre-selected which contestants would have a chance at re-earning a spot back in the competition. This means there are only three cooks who return: Gordon picks Bri, Joe picks Lynn, and Graham picks Bime. They are given 15 minutes to cook as many perfect sunny-side up eggs as humanly possible. While frying an egg is easy, getting it perfect is not. (I myself love sunny-side up eggs and even included a recipe in my New York Times best-selling cookbook, Recipes from My Home Kitchen.)
The strategy in this challenge is speed and consistency. If the kitchen stations are the same as last season's, this means the four burners are all different sizes and, thus, heat levels. The cooks get to use two stations, which equals eight burner tops. I would break my first egg into a skillet over olive oil and start it cold on the smallest burner. Then I'd move on to the second smallest burner, and so on. Once I have eight eggs cooking, the first egg should be near done — just break up the whites so they cook evenly and then slide it onto a plate. Then get the ninth egg on the heat. This should be done repeatedly while keeping an eye on all eight skillets. Of course, for me, I would have to listen for any crackling, and indication that the egg will likely blister.
In the end, Bri and Bime have the most perfectly cooked sunny-side up eggs, and Lynn has to make his exit from the MasterChef kitchen a second time. What a bummer. I was really rooting for Lynn — he's undoubtedly a strong cook, as made evident by his competitors' response when he re-entered the kitchen. (Jordan had let out a mouthful of curses.)
And so it's Bri versus Bime in a head-to-head culinary battle that will determine who's turning the top six back into top seven. The remaining six cooks and Joe Bastianich will vote after a blind taste test. And the dish? Pan-seared salmon, potatoes, asparagus, and a hollandaise. Bri and Bime each get a beautiful Alaskan wild salmon, which they have to filet. (Bri, you will never be able to escape those animal eyes!)
If you can recall my salmon mishap during Season 3, you would know this challenge is my personal nightmare. I prefer my salmon raw (see the poke recipe in my cookbook). Regardless, I'm never one to back down from a challenge. And so this is what I'd do: first, break down the salmon and get two beautiful fillets. (It's all about knife technique -- make sure your knife is sharp. Use a long, controlled, slicing motion.) Cut those filets into eight pieces. Then get started on the potatoes — I'd slice them thinly; season with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary; and get them roasting in the oven where they can cook without my having to closely monitor Next, I'd prep the asparagus and get those in the oven as well. Lastly, I'd make the hollandaise and pan-sear the salmon. I'd select the best seven out of the eight salmon pieces and plate.
The remaining six cooks get to judge (it's nice to be on the other side, isn't it!?), and the votes are incredibly close. But Bri wins four to three — she's back in the game.
What do you think of second chances? Does Bri deserve to be back at MasterChef?
Don't forget to watch an all-new episode of MasterChef next Wednesday at 9/8c on FOX. Who will be one of the top five home cooks in America? Visit www.FOX.com/MasterChef for all details.