“Chopped:” rum, tofu, and ground turkey?

by Kathryn Baldwin

What do you do when you get home late, too sober to fall asleep but not drunk enough to pass out? Well, I curl up with some tea and mindless munchies, equipped to stare at reruns of Food Network’s Chopped until I fall asleep! Forcing me to treat this mindless entertainment seriously, my class developed a mock Chopped assignment. We blindly exchanged ingredients and marched home with 4,320 minutes (instead of 20) to create a meal.

“Chopped” is my uninspired, dead energy, dumpsite. How could I find enough inspiration under these mundane circumstances to combine two flavorless proteins and a cocktail? I settled on rum-glazed turkey meatballs and a tofu dressing for a side salad.

For the tofu salad dressing I made the mistake of following Emeril Lagasse’s idea: I put a bajillion ingredients into my Magic Bullet expecting a high-protein version of Ranch. It’s possible that to succeed in Emeril’s magic, I should have tossed the ingredients into the Bullet screaming “BAM!”, but the dressing turned out to be liquid shallot. Sniffing it brought tears and licking it felt like I’d sneezed horseradish through my nose.

“Chopped” is not just a mindless, drunk-munchies theme song; like any competition or art form, it requires concentration, innovation, and inspiration. While I would have been Chopped with my rancid dressing (even after trying to save it with a fountain of honey), I have grown a new respect for the inspiration that “Chopped” chefs are able to conjure when conditions turn bland.

Luckily, anything glazed in melted butter, molasses, and rum inspires me. Looking back, the proteins weren’t “bland,” they were a clean slate waiting for inspiration.


Combine one-fourth cup of bread crumbs, a half tsp each of salt and nutmeg. Also add 1 tsp each of pepper, cumin, tarragon, and paprika. Take your rings off and roll up your sleeves. Plop in 1 lb. ground turkey and one lightly beaten egg. Then, shove your hands in and mush it all around. Roll about 16 balls the size of an average avocado pit. After they’ve baked on a greased, foil-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, spoon about three fourths of the melted inspiration over each one (half a stick of butter, half a cup of rum, half a cup of molasses). Then, put a layer of foil over top and bake for 5-10 more minutes. Sacrifice one to be sure they’ve cooked all the way. Then spoon the rest of the Inspiration Juice overtop.


3 Comments to ““Chopped:” rum, tofu, and ground turkey?”

  1. Chopped reruns=so many hours of life I will never get back

  2. BAM!!! cracking me up right now! 🙂

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