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Iron Chef - Battle Rice

What a great episode. While I dont like Batali all that much and often root against him in these battles, both he and Bartolotta's rice dishes were ridiculous last night.

Those were two top notch performances.

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  1. Didn't everything look delicious? And it's so easy to ruin rice (I'm thinking of recent "Top Chef" episodes), I find it impressive that according to the judges the rice in all 10 dishes was perfectly cooked.

    1 Reply
    1. re: NYCkaren

      Don't forget chef Keith ruining the rice on Survivor!

    2. I thought so, too. Crazy concoctions that sounded delicious and intriguing. I usually watch the show (when I do) while multi-tasking, and I tune out most of it until judges table and then pay attention only if Ted Allen or Jeffrey Steingarten is on. Poor Bartolotta sat through critique after critique pronouncing his food "perfect" (and other superlatives), only to then hear each judge wax poetic about Batali's dishes.

      1. I watched this show for the first time in a long time, and really enjoyed this episode. Every single dish is one I'd like to try - I like the idea of pulverizing the rice to powder and then using it on a risotto cake while it's being pan seared...that looked phenomenal!

        1. One further thought: I was a bit surprised that Mario didn't make a dessert. Considering that in past episodes we've seen desserts made of all kinds of seemingly inappropritate ingredients like fish, how can you not make something sweet with rice? Still, all of the dishes he did prepare looked wonderful.

          By the way, I missed the point totals. What were they?

          17 Replies
          1. re: NYCkaren

            Batali Bartolotta
            Taste: 27 26
            Plating: 15 15
            Originality: 15 15

            Total:
            Batali 57, Bartolotta 56

            Great Show!
            edit: Sorry, the web page removed all of my careful spacing trying to create a readable table.

            1. re: Bellyacher

              I'm going from memory here but I am pretty sure that chef Bartolotta's scores for plating and originality were both 14, giving him a final score of 54 to Mario's 57. Either way they both earned some of the highest scores awarded on ICA in quite a while.

              1. re: Bellyacher

                Not true i think. bartolotta had 14s in plating and originality. which i thought was frankly a setup for batali to win.
                his looked good but bartolotta's better imho. and more interesting.

                1. re: AMFM

                  Ah, I think Batali was much more original, and his plates were great. Bartolotta used only 1 rice, boring. (not saying he was bad, but Batali was def better!)

                  1. re: jme1beachbum

                    i just went - "really, squash risotto?" i mean the dishes were lovely and looked good - and it is true that he used multiple kinds and made a drink and all. it's just that the other guys looked so good too (and i think did such a good job showing the diversity of just arborio - proving you could've had just that as an ingredient). i thought the fritters at the end looked insane and of course now i'm blanking on what else was what.
                    poor guy.
                    and i've seen that marrow thing before (didn't someone fake marrow - i know it wasn't with the same ingredients - i think jill davies on next iron chef) so it didn't strike me as that original either. i just wanted to eat bartolottas more that night!

                2. re: Bellyacher

                  I have to say, not sure if its the judges that were so talking uppity about the dishes and the high scores, but Im glad Im not the only one that thought this stuff looked insanely delicious.

                  Surprised not to see more rice pudding but Im actually going to try and grind some black forbidden rice tonight to bread some crab cakes based on what I saw. What a great idea.

                  1. re: yankeefan

                    Yankeefan, if you do please post the results on the home cooking board. I want to hear about it.

                    1. re: NYCkaren

                      Ditto on that! I have both black and Bhutan (I think that's it) red rice that this could be good for!

                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        In that battle, one of the chefs grinded (ground) three different kinds of rice into powders and coated scallops with them, then fried the scallops. Looked wonderful.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I thought it was the risotto cakes? The scallops were just seared off, IIRC.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            I think that was a different dish. I'll try to find it on the website.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              It was Batali's sea scallop sliced horizontally into thirds, each one coated with a different ground rice powder.

                              Batali's range and creativity on the show really is impressive - all the more impressive given that he could have easily just stuck with being the "regional Italian" guy.

                              Though I'm sometimes amused at how chefs sometimes get such brownie points for creativity for doing nothing more than re-creating a traditional dish from another culture (i.e. Korean bim-bim-bap).

                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                Thanks Frodnesor - could have sworn there was a discussion at the table about the difficulty of the risotto cake holding together, depending on how dry/moist the risotto was, and how well the chef's risotto cake held together. Was that Bartolotta's dish? And I guess he wouldn't have wanted to cover it in rice powder as it was already rice. :-)

                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                  Linda, you were right about the risotto cake; chef Bartolotta did crust it with rice powder (arborio powder). He also had another dish which was topped with a plain, seared scallop (I can't remember what the rice component of that dish was.) As Frodnesor already pointed out, Batali did the scallop slices crusted with three different rice powders.

                                  It is kind of hard keeping all of the dishes straight especially when there are a lot of common elements. Maybe we should appoint one Chowhounder to type up a menu at the top of the thread for each episode.

                                  Not dibs!

                                  1. re: kmcarr

                                    OK, I *wasn't* going crazy! Or I *hadn't* had too much wine with my dinner on Sunday night! LOL Thanks kmcarr!

                                2. re: Frodnesor

                                  THANK YOU on the bibimbap comment. The judges were all over batali for making street food. Now I love bibimbap, but i wouldn´t consider a traditional version of this dish iron chef worthy.

                          2. re: NYCkaren

                            I will do, Ill post here that I tried it when I do and will post results on home cooking. I cant wait to try. Thanks for the feedback.

                    2. I missed this one... however, I am sure it will be repeated, so I can catch a rerun.

                      Having eaten at both of their restaurants, I'm not surprised at the outcome. Bartolotta is a major player. FYI was chef at Spiaggia in Chicago for many years.... kind of a "Mantuano Sandwich."

                      1. Yep excellent battle with a very close score.

                        Interesting how Bartolotta decided to just use the Arborrio and see what he could do with the one where as Batali took the more logical course of trying to use everything to show the versatility.

                        Also interesting how Batali did three Italian, one Spanish and one Korean meal. I'm betting between the variety of the rices and the variety in the cuisines are what gave him that extra edge in the end to win.

                        Either way, one of the best Iron Chef battles in quite some time. Made my week!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: HarryK

                          Ditto!
                          Love Mario, going to Babbo this week!
                          Would love to meet him, heard he's very nice, James Beard awards in NY at the Lincoln center Sunday, he's up for something I believe...

                        2. So what was more surprising, Batali using Korean food (kopdol bibimbap and kalbi) or Brown showing his complete ignorance of Korean food?

                          I was so happy to see Batali getting okoge into this with the kopdol bibimbap. How could you imagine a rice contest without one of the best rice experiences in the world? It really shows the depth of his understanding of what makes food good.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: applehome

                            I don't think that not remembering immediately the name of bibimbap shows "complete ignorance" of Korean food.

                            1. re: JoeyH

                              He didn't just not remember bibimbap - he totally ignored kalbi, and never picked up on why the kopdol (stone pot) version is such an incredible step up. Batali obviously knew all this - Alton obviously did not.

                              1. re: applehome

                                Alton needs to go back to Asian Cooking 101.

                              2. re: JoeyH

                                alton said bibimbap was big in 'southeast asia'. batali corrected him and said it was from Korea. have to say, alton disappointed me on that one!

                                1. re: jeanki

                                  And didn't Alton Brown chastise somebody from last season's Next Food Network Star for not knowing about San Marzano tomatoes, saying that it's your job to be familiar with food. We can't all know everything.

                                  And I remember one of the judges complimenting Batali on his innovative use of the stone pot, rice and vegetables and sauce. I hope Batali gave credit to the Koreans for this one.

                            2. Well with a handle like "yankeefan" I can see why you would also root against Batali ;) Consistently on the wrong side! ;) ;) ;)

                              I really thought at first that the challenger was going to win...he just seemed poised to take this one. But, when he focused exlcusively on Italian dishes with only arborio rice I was dumfounded; Bartolotta limited himself by doing that even though all of his stuff looked great.

                              I also agree with the earlier post that said it was astonishing that Mario didn't do a dessert. But I'm glad that Batali won.. oh and Go Red Sox!!

                              1. It was a very good episode. Batali, IMO, always rises to the occasion. I only at at his restaurant once, long ago, and I still remember that meal, which was relatively cheap. He IS that talented and evidently a great teacher. I didn't know him from Adam when I went in, it just looked good, and I walked out a believer.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Pete Oldtown

                                  I often find Iron Chef , well , dull...but not this time...Really great! Watched it twice! And that Osso Bucco ina bone..Oh My! Anybody have a recipe?

                                2. Does anyone know where I can download the show? Thx.