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God Save The Hot Dish

Lia brings out her franks 'n' beans. Her grilled chicken sausage is draped oddly over her "beans" (which are actually insanely-good-for-you lentils) and she has a small glass of Guinness to accompany all of it. Earlier she explained that her store-bought chicken sausage was made with beer, so the Guinness was to reflect that. What she doesn't ever say is that recent studies have shown that beer may lower cholesterol, so either that was another reason for the Guinness or it was just a lucky stumble. The judges don't note that aspect of her dish, however, so it's just me telling you about it. You're welcome! Lia also plated a small pile of picked onions and some red things that, for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what they were and just decided to call them Kirk's Food Cubes. Later, the judges reveal them to be watermelon chunks. When Padma asks her, Lia admits that she didn't make the sausage herself. Lia tells us she's proud of her dish and thinks "a large segment" of America would like it. Meanwhile, this segment is not thrilled. One elderly Elk says, "I don't like it, you know, I just…hesitate." The judges don't like it either. In the back, CJ tells Lia that her lentils are a little underdone. "Well, I wanted them to stay a little -- do you think they're too al dente?" Lia asks. He does. Lia sighs heavily, "I wanted everything to have, like, a texture, you know?" CJ nods, "It does." Hee. Portale notes that Lia had two hours to cook lentils and sausage and she didn't even cook the lentils properly. Colicchio agrees that the lentils are undercooked. "Undercooked," Padma parrots.

Ted Allen has just said that they are in need of "some serious wow," when Dale comes out with his supposedly rotisserie chicken 'n' instant mashed potato dumplings. The music kicks happily up. Dale explains his dish of delicate chicken-stuffed potato dumplings that he's serving with broccoli, horseradish, and celery root. He calls them "virtiniai," a Lithuanian pierogi. The dumplings are piled in a saucy broth and there are slivered almonds strewn about the dish. Again, this goes unsaid, but almonds are supposed to lower cholesterol as well. The Elks love it, as do the judges. Ted Allen particularly likes how Dale seared the exterior of the dumplings.

Hung struts out toting his take on fried chicken with macaroni and cheese. He launches into his animated explanation of his yogurt-marinated chicken, which we already know was roasted in an oven that he then turned off, "I know that you probably miss the crunch from the skin, so I took the skin, scraped off all the fat, rendered all the fat in the oven, and now you have transparent chip of skin." Sure enough, there's this little crispy triangle sticking out of the piece of chicken. You can tell Hung thinks this is the most awesome brain wave. Colicchio blinks bemusedly at it. During Hung's entire performance, Howie has been standing patiently behind him, waiting to distribute the rest of Hung's dishes, looking completely bored. "Certainly not like grandma's fried chicken," one Elkess says. "On the other hand, grandma's fried chicken will KILL you," another Elkess finishes for her. Hee. Elks with a sense of humor. Sara N. is next with her take on fish and chips. I never thought of fish and chips as an American comfort food; it's more British than anything. Also, weren't they supposed to be fish sticks? Sara N. topped some snapper with panko and is serving it with currants, lentils, and roasted beets. So, what's the "chips" replacement? This is just a fish dish. One Elk is shown enjoying it, but we get naught from the judges.

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