Winning Recipes from MasterChef’s Chicken-and-Potatoes Challenge

Awesome spice-rubbed and stuffed chicken dishes from top MasterChef home cooks and celeb judges.

Eboni Henry and Cate Meade, both from Chicago, teamed up to create this winning dish.

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Spice-Rubbed Chicken Legs with Duck Fat Potatoes and Apple Puree

Makes 4 servings Prep 1 hour  Brine 30 minutes Cook 34 minutes  Roast at 425° for 10 minutes

8 chicken drumsticks (about 1 3/4 lbs total)

Brine

Duck Fat Potatoes

Honey Sauce

Spice Mix

2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 tbsp duck fat (lard or vegetable shortening may be substituted)

6 thyme sprigs

Juice from 1 lemon (about 4 tbsp)

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tbsp minced shallots

Apple Puree

1 cup diced pancetta

12 fresh sage leaves

Place chicken in a large bowl or stockpot. Add Brine and let sit at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Duck Fat Potatoes (but don’t brown them) and Honey Sauce.

Remove chicken from brine, rinse well, pat dry and rub all over with Spice Mix. Heat oven to 425°. In a pan, melt butter and duck fat over medium-high. Add thyme, lemon juice, garlic and shallots, followed by chicken. Sear each side, spooning butter mixture over chicken as it cooks, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a rimmed baking sheet and roast 10 minutes, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare Apple Puree and brown the potatoes.

In a saucepan, cook pancetta over medium-high until crispy, about 3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel. Add sage and fry until crispy, about 1 minute.

On each of 4 plates, place about 1/3 cup apple puree, 2 drumsticks and 4 potatoes. Sprinkle with pancetta and sage, and spoon a good amount of sauce over all.

Brine Whisk 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar and 1/2 cup kosher salt into 1 gallon cold water.

Duck Fat Potatoes Peel 8 Yukon Gold potatoes, and cut each into two 1-inch-thick cylinders. In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tbsp unsalted butter over medium. Toss in 2 sprigs each fresh dill and rosemary, 3 sprigs fresh thyme and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add potatoes and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, discarding herbs and stock. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat 1/2 cup duck fat (or lard or shortening) over medium-high. Brown potatoes, about 5 minutes, and season with 1/2 tbsp Himalayan sea salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper.

Honey Sauce In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium. Add 2 tbsp chopped shallots, 1 minced clove garlic and 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme. Cook 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add 3/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp paprika; whisk to combine. Cook 5 minutes, until slightly reduced. Stir in 2 tbsp unsalted butter and 1 tbsp demi-glace (such as More Than Gourmet). Season with 1/2 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Spice Mix In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup each kosher salt and paprika, 2 tbsp each coarsely ground black pepper and dried sage and 1 tbsp each ground cumin and coriander.

Apple Puree In a saucepan, combine 4 cups water, juice of 2 lemons and 3 sprigs fresh rosemary over medium. Add 1 lb peeled, diced Granny Smith apples and cook 3 minutes, until tender. In another pan, heat 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tbsp unsalted butter. Drain apples and transfer to a blender (discard rosemary). Add some cream mixture plus a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend, adding more cream mixture if too thick. Strain through a mesh strainer if lumpy.

Celeb judges Christina Tosi and Aarón Sánchez crafted this gorgeous take on chicken and potatoes.

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Stuffed Chicken Roulade with Chicharrones, Pommes Soufflés and Red Wine–Pasilla Sauce

Makes 4 servings  Prep 2 hours  Roast at 450° for 25 minutes Cook 1 hour, 20 minutes Fry 2 minutes  Bake at 350° for 42 minutes  Rest 5 minutes

4 boneless, skin-on chicken thighs

Chicharrones

Red Wine–Pasilla Sauce

Pommes Soufflés

Stained-Glass Chips

1 poblano chile

1 ear corn on the cob, shucked

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 ½ cups mixed wild mushrooms, sliced

¼ cup yellow onion, finely diced

1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped

¼ cup grated Oaxaca cheese

1 tbsp Cotija cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

Butcher’s twine

Microgreens, snipped chives and edible flowers (for garnish)

Chicharrones Heat oven to 450°. Carefully remove skin from chicken thighs. Place skin between 2 pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board and pound with bottom of a skillet until flattened. Season with salt and pepper and place between 2 baking sheets covered with nonstick foil. Place a cast-iron skillet (or heavy, oven-safe object) on top to flatten chicken skin. Roast 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer with tongs to a wire rack to cool.

Red Wine–Pasilla Sauce Meanwhile, in a small pot, toast 2 dried pasilla or guajillo chiles over medium for 2 minutes, turning once. Add 2 cups dry red wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Pour in 1 cup unsalted chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Add 1 tbsp demi-glace and 1 tsp lemon juice; reduce until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Pour sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into another pot and stir in 1 tbsp cold unsalted butter. Cover and set aside.

Pommes Soufflés In a medium heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 cups vegetable oil to 300°. Peel 1 Yukon gold potato. Slice off edges to make a square. Cut into 1/8-inch slices, then cut slices into 2 x 1/2-inch rectangles. Pat dry and fry at 300° for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Increase oil temperature to 375°. Fry 1 more minute, until puffed and barely browned.

Stained-Glass Chips Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Melt 2 tbsp unsalted butter. Peel 1 Yukon gold potato and thinly slice on a mandoline. Line a baking sheet with parchment and brush with melted butter. Place potato slices on parchment and brush with melted butter. Place 1 or 2 microgreen leaves on at least 8 slices, then place a similarly sized potato slice on top of each and press together. Brush tops with more butter, then season with salt and pepper. Cover with another piece of parchment and place another baking sheet on top. Weigh down with a cast-iron pan or heavy, oven-safe object. Bake about 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Remove potatoes to a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Stuffed Chicken Roulade

Heat oven to 350°. Roast poblano and corn over an open flame on the grill or stove, turning with tongs, for 3 to 5 minutes, until charred. Transfer poblano to a bowl and cover with plastic for 5 minutes. Peel off skin, remove seeds and finely dice. Cut kernels from cob.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high. Add 1 tbsp oil and stir in mushrooms; cook 5 minutes. Stir in onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in poblano, corn and oregano. Remove from heat and fold in Oaxaca and Cotija cheese; season with salt and pepper.

Place chicken thighs between 2 pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board and pound until 1/8 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon 2 tbsp poblano-corn mixture on one end of each thigh. Roll each thigh tightly and tie several times with butcher’s twine.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high. Brown thighs on all sides for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake 12 minutes, until temperature reaches 165°. Rest 5 minutes.

Snip off butcher’s twine. Slice roulade in half. Serve with chicharrones, sauce, pommes soufflés and chips, reheating as needed. Garnish with microgreens, chives and flowers.

To sample even more of judge Aarón Sánchez’s signature style, head to the Big Easy. His restaurant, Johnny Sánchez, brings the flavors of Mexico to the New Orleans table. For more info, check out johnnysanchezrestaurant.com.

Photos: Yunhee Kim. Food styling: Mariana Velasquez for Ray Brown Pro. Prop styling: Megan Hedgpeth.