The Top 10 Most-Used Chopped Mystery Basket Ingredients
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10: Tie - Mustard Greens / Collard Greens / Dandelion Greens
Leafy greens make the mystery baskets almost regularly. It's quite possible the culinary producers of the show are trying to send some sort of motherly message. And it's especially true when you consider these three different yet similarly flavored greens tie to claim the 10th spot.
Chopped is a great education in familiarizing yourself with lesser-known fruits such as this tiny citrus, which is more bitter and sour than sweet. In addition to learning what a kumquat is, viewers can expect to discover all the uses for it, whether it's in a dessert or entree, both of which kumquats have been in.
8: Tie - Quail / Black Garlic
Quail's size makes it more difficult to cook than many other proteins — a good test for a chef's skill. Although garlic may be a staple in many dishes, black garlic surpasses it in frequency of appearance. Don't be put off by either, as both have been used in typical ways, e.g., fried quail legs, black garlic aioli.
7: Tie - Tomatillos / Rhubarb
Tying in the No. 7 spot are rhubarb and tomatillos. Fact: Both tomatillos and rhubarb have been used in an appetizer round every time they have appeared as a basket ingredient except for one episode each, in which they popped up in the dessert round.
6: Tie - Baby Fennel / Cactus Pears
Baby fennel and cactus pears tie as the sixth most-used ingredient. While baby fennel is the more recognizable ingredient, cactus pears certainly bear an intimidating name. But once peeled and seeded, they're just a sweet fruit. Chopped chefs have used them in all three rounds.
5: Tie - Zucchini / Strawberries
You don't necessarily think of zucchini or strawberries in conjunction with one another, but on Chopped they're both mystery basket ingredients used equally as much but in unexpected ways. Fact: Zucchini has actually been a dessert basket ingredient more times than strawberries have.
4: Tie - Avocados / Escarole
As chefs have shown, both these ingredients are good for nearly every course. Avocados can seemingly be used in everything from entrees to garnishes. And there's no reason to be intimidated by a less-popular lettuce like escarole, which is actually very versatile: Chefs have fried it and even turned it into a ragout.
3: Duck Breast
You weren't expecting something as simple as chicken, were you? This is Chopped, after all. Duck breast is a flavorful protein that is much more interesting than, say, chicken breast. But the secret to cooking it is rendering the skin's fat, which doesn't always happen under the time constraints of the show.
2: Tie - Rainbow Chard / Jicama
Despite their frequent incorporation, the dishes made from these two ingredients range greatly. Jicama has been used in desserts like an inventive caramelized jicama with ricotta and chocolate mousse. Rainbow chard has been the predominant ingredient in various appetizers and entrees.
1: Tie - Blueberries / Pineapple
Pineapple and blueberries have appeared more than any other ingredient and more times than not were featured in entrees. Many chefs hate pineapple because they find its taste overpowers other ingredients. Making the effort to cook with either fruit goes to show the versatility of both chef and ingredient.
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