MasterChef S9E20 recap: Battle of the Beef


On MasterChef S9E20 recap, the home cooks must pass a gauntlet of tests. Only four will survive to reach the semi-finals.

In MasterChef S9E20 recap, the top five enter the MasterChef kitchen to learn about their next challenge. Dramatically, a side of beef descends from the ceiling. All five will cook in the first challenge and two will be safe. The remaining three will move on to beef challenge two and one will emerge victorious. The final two standing will battle head-to-head and one will go home.

For the first test, the cooks will make beef kabobs in thirty minutes. They all have a small pantry of items to use. Everyone will make their skewers with New York strip steak. Beyond the steak, they have peppers, mushrooms, lemon, lime, red wine vinegar, garlic, herbs and seasonings at their stations.

While the test seems simple, there is nowhere for the cooks to hide. With just a few ingredients, each one must be seasoned and cooked perfectly. The judges are looking for precisely cut, uniform skewers. They also want medium rare beef and cooked vegetables, so they have the challenge of getting each ingredient cooked properly.

Samantha, a college student, does not grill or cook steak often. Bowen indicates that he has never grilled meat before. He always cooks over charcoal. Both Samantha and Bowen cut their steak in very large pieces, making it harder to cook properly and giving their skewers a less uniform look. Samantha also makes the odd decision to place her browned beef into the oven. Even worse, Bowen juliennes his vegetables and is cooking them in a stir-fry style.

MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Bowen, Samantha, Gerron, Ashley and Cesar and judge Aaron Sanchez in the “Battle of the Beef/Semi-Final” two-hour episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, Sept. 12 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX

When time is called, Bowen goes up for judging first. He has marinated his beef in lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika and garlic. His meat is cooked perfectly as are the julienned vegetables under his skewers. But he has also added vegetables to his skewers and they are raw.
Samantha goes up next. She has gone for a Mediterranean flavor profile and has decided to only use onions and mushrooms on her skewers. Her meat is rare, rather than medium rare, and her skewers are not flavorful.

Gerron has taken great care to make his skewers uniform. The judges love the visual presentation and enjoy his unusual jerk seasoning. His meat is charred on the outside and pink in the middle, so he has nailed the cook.

Ashley has gone for a Latin flavor with lemon, lime, cumin, coriander, garlic and red chili flake. She has also added chimichurri to her skewers. They are well-received.

Cesar has used oregano, garlic and red wine vinegar. The only complaint is that the judges feel he didn’t need to use vinegar with such a good cut of beef.

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  • Gerron and Cesar are deemed safe and are exempt from the rest of the tests. Samantha, Bowen, and Ashley move on to challenge number two- meatballs in a marinara sauce. As Samantha, Bowen, and Ashley are all Gordon’s mentees, he will lose someone tonight.

    Again, this seems to be a simple enough challenge, but the cooks need to get just the right mix of meats, breadcrumbs, and eggs. They also have to be sure to not overwork their meatballs or they will be dense and lack tenderness.

    Samantha and Bowen struggle a bit again, but Ashley does not have a stress-free cook either. Interestingly, in these challenges we see the chief issues of each cook. Samantha has a tendency to get flustered under pressure. Ashley struggles with time management. Bowen relies far too much on Asian flavors and techniques so he struggles with replication challenges.

    Samantha shows her nervousness when Joe comes to check on her. She is frying her meatballs when he approaches and as they talk, she ladles some sauce into the pan. Joe questions the move so she puts the meatballs in her saucepan and then moves the whole thing to the oven.

    With ten minutes left, Ashley has not even started to cook her meatballs. Worse yet, Bowen has decided to roll his meatballs in his breadcrumbs and fry them like cutlets. When the judges point out to him that this is a replication challenge, he throws out his meatballs with just eight minutes left to attempt a more traditional style.

    When their thirty minutes is up, Samantha is first judged. Her decision to finish them in the oven has left her meatballs undercooked in the center. As she used a 60 percent beef, 40 percent pork ratio, Gordon can’t eat most of her meatball. It is also under-seasoned.

    MASTERCHEF: L-R: Contestants Ashley and Bowen in the “Battle of the Beef/Semi-Final” two-hour episode of MASTERCHEF airing Wednesday, Sept. 12 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2018 FOX

    Bowen’s second attempt at meatballs have no breadcrumbs in the mix so they are hard and dense. However, his sauce and seasoning is good. Ashley’s meatballs are the best of the bunch with the only complaint being that they are misshapen and that she has too little sauce. Ashley is safe so Bowen and Samantha will face off in the final battle.

    The final challenge is tricky. They are given exactly three filet mignons. They must cook one well-done, one medium, and one rare. Mastering the timing for each cook will really challenge them, especially as Samantha does not cook filet often. Also, Bowen only likes well-done steak, so he is unsure of the timing for the other temperatures.

    The judges recommend searing the well-done steak and then finishing it in the oven with stock as the stock will keep the meat moist. For the medium, they state that it should never see the oven. Rather, you should sear it on all sides and baste it in the pan as it cooks. For the rare, they advise to only cook it two minutes per side and then rest it.

    Samantha does put her medium steak in the oven and both of them waffle about their temperatures, returning meat to the pan or oven after they have initially set it to rest. Bowen nearly doesn’t finish, sliding to the judging table with his plates like a baseball player making a home run.

    Samantha wins the well-done steak, hitting the right temperature. Bowen’s is much too pink. Samantha also wins the medium round. Both were under-cooked for medium, but hers was closer. Bowen wins the rare round as his is more flavorful, but with two steaks better cooked, Samantha is safe and Bowen is out.

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    Bowen is overwhelmed with emotion as he leaves, kissing his apron and walking out in tears. I have no doubt that he will someday open an Asian restaurant that will play up his skillset. Next up, the final four enter the semi-finals!