3 Ways to Master Sweet-and-Savory Flavor Combinations — Chopped Junior

By

Last week on Chopped Junior we saw the contestants battle the clock and each other through three rounds of dishes that challenged the young cooks’ ability to balance flavors.

In each round of mystery basket ingredients, sweet and savory items upped the ante. In Round one, the bacon soda and maraschino cherries needed to be neutralized so they wouldn’t overpower the smoked chicken breasts and bitter puntarelle. In the entree course, the sweet grape mini balloon dogs challenged the contestants to incorporate sweetness with their gamey goat, and in the dessert round, the final two struggled to work farmhouse cheddar cheese and duck fat into their caramel-apple-dominated desserts.

The secret to unlocking the baskets in this episode was tackling this sophisticated flavor profile — not every attempt was successful. We saw Juliette stumble in Round one with an overly sweet sauce. On the other hand, Mikayla’s maraschino chutney provided a sweet balance to her otherwise savory crostini. Mastering the sweet-and-savory combination adds a greater depth of flavor to dishes.

Food Network Kitchen loves pairing unexpected ingredients, so we’ve rounded up three of our favorite sweet, savory recipes to help you get started conquering the delightfully confusing palate teaser.

Thyme and Honey Ricotta Spread (pictured above)

Fresh thyme is added to sweet honey to enhance the creamy flavor of mild ricotta in this appetizer.

Banana Chip-Crusted Jerk Pork Chops

In this recipe, the crunchy sweet banana chips balance the otherwise savory dish loaded with heavy spice from the dry jerk seasoning.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Onion Galette with Stilton

This tender, flaky freeform tart incorporates sweet apples with fresh herbs and pungent Stilton cheese for a balanced galette.

Watch Chopped Junior on Tuesdays at 8|7c.