Monti Carlo as
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Sweet Plaintain Bacon Burger
Everyone has a fave burger recipe and this is mine. In Puerto Rico (my homeland!) there is a very common meat filling called picadillo. It's usually ground beef or pork with sweet raisins, spanish olives, spices and sofritto (the Puerto Rican base for almost ALL our dishes). I like to make the picadillo into a burger patty and top it with sweet fried plantains and bacon. It's Puerto Rico in one bite. TRY IT! You'll never watch West Side Story the same way again...that's assuming that you love dated musicals as much as I do.
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Who was your first cooking inspiration?
My mom. She had a HUGE library of cookbooks, and even though we were always on a tight budget (she was a single mom too), she always found a way to make exciting dishes from around the world. I vividly remember her showing me how to cook pancakes when I was 6-years old. She said, "When there's bubbles all over the top, they are ready to be flipped!"
What is the first dish you ever mastered?
I mastered making apple pie in my 30s. I tested out over a dozen recipes for crust. I tried raw apples, cooked apples, pureed, sliced, chunky, you name it. My fave recipe has a pecan caramel crumble topping, and I make it with thinly-sliced honey crisp apples. The crust is a mix of butter and shortening and has a splash of vodka. It's even flakier than I am, and that's pretty flaky.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love making oxtail stew! It's a slow cook recipe so it takes all day, and there's a lot of chopping involved, but the way your house smells about two hours in is outrageous! I knew I had a hit when my roomies would offer to clean the house as long as I spent the day making oxtail stew!
What did you learn as a contestant on MasterChef?
I learned so much on MasterChef, but my biggest lesson was that I am capable of more than I ever dreamed of. Oh, and that you can, in fact, set a metal bowl on fire. It's actually really easy. All you need is a rubber bottom and an open flame.