Saturday, May 11, 2013

Live and Spiced Out from the Robertsons Spicemaster Challenge

Spicy, aromatic and fierce with fiery heat... and that is just the atmosphere in the kitchen at the Robertsons Spicemaster event, where I'm one of seven South African food bloggers competing in a Masterchef style mystery box challenge.

The mystery ingredients reveal themselves as we are briefed - I spot a whole chicken - how on earth to cook that in 45 minutes flat? We have ten minutes to orientate ourselves, check out the ingredients. Spotting anchovies I'm immediately on an Italian themed taste mission, but I want to keep it simple, something I'm used to cooking at home but spiced up for the event. After all I'm competing against some serious foodies here!

The time starts and I grab the chicken and divest it of its breasts. I'm going to grill them with a mustard, oil and vinegar sauce, so they are tender and juicy. There's a pack of linguini which I'll use as starch, even if it's not traditionally Italian to have pasta accompanying the main meat course. Some fresh tomatoes for the sauce with a dash of dried thyme, some garlic and just a touch of dried chilli.

Meanwhile those anchovies are demanding to be used. I ask my chef assistant if there are capers and there are, so I decide on an anchovy, caper and oil dipping sauce for some steamed broccoli. None of this is rocket science or even very ambitious but I hope the flavours will all come together and shine with just that touch of herb and spice that Italian cuisine requires, nothing too showy but tantalising and tasty.

I finish early and am plating up (me who never plates anything at home!) five mintes before crunch time. The plates disappear into the board room for judging. We wipe our brows and are all genuinely amazed at what each other has come up with. Seven very different dishes from exactly the same range of ingredients.

Grilled chicken with mustard, oil and vinegar sauce.

2 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil (the good stuff)
2 tablespoons vinegar
a pinch of Robertsons dried chilli flakes
a pinch of Robertsons dried thyme

Edited to add:
We only had 25 minutes to write and post our food experience, which was all part of the competition. I ran out of time, so I'm adding the recipe method after the event just in case you want to try this one.

Batter the chicken breasts with a rolling pin or other heavy implement, until they are an even thickness and slightly tenderised.
Mix up the mustard, oil and vinegar with the herbs and chilli. Season this with salt and pepper.
Put the chicken into an oven proof dish and pour over the sauce. Cook under a hot grill for 10-15 minutes, then turn the breasts over, baste with the sauce and cook the other side for another 10 minutes until cooked through. Scoop the mustardy sauce over the chicken as you serve.

Note: I usually use a grainy mustard, but there was only smooth Dijon available, which worked well for flavour but was less visually appealing.

Photos courtesy of Michael the very helpful photographer at the event. Thanks!


  1. And what were the results, you are keeping us in suspense!!! :-))) Love Robertson's spices wish I could get them here. Diane

  2. WELL.....?!?!?! Sure, go ahead and make us sit here squinting at the screen, wondering how the judges liked your delicious dish (if the pictures are any indication, it was AMAZING!) It's only 9AM here, and I'd sit down and nom that up right this minute.

  3. Rhodesia and Marcheline, I'm about to write the sequel now, as I'm back home and still buzzing!


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