Metro Atlantan kids Rhashad Lawery, Brielle Jones and Reid Briggs are all competing for the next "MasterChef Junior" crown on Fox starting March 12, 2019. 
Photo: Fox
Photo: Fox

Signature dish recipes from three metro Atlanta ‘MasterChef Junior’ season 7 contestants 

Originally posted Tuesday, March 5, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

While many adults can barely boil water, shows such as “Top Chef Junior” and “MasterChef Junior” prove that kids as young as 8 are capable of creating restaurant-quality meals.

This upcoming season of Fox’s “MasterChef Junior” features seven metro Atlanta contestants out of the original 25. Three of them offered the AJC an exclusive look at their “signature” dishes that will be showcased on the program, which returns Tuesday night at 8 p.m.

Brielle Jones

Age: 9

Hometown: Conley

Signature Dish: Caribbean jerk shrimp with avocado cream sauce over pineapple and tomato rice

Why cooking: “It’s just really fun. I feel great. It makes me feel happy.”

Why this particular dish: “My dad is Caribbean. And I love avocado. It’s so cool. Jerk shrimp is hot.”

Her mom Krashelle Cuffy’s take: “She wants to be a botanist. She’s really into herbs and vegetables. We have a garden in the back and she likes to experiment. She’s the only 9-year-old I know who can identify lemongrass.”

Brielle Jones, 9, and her signature jerk chicken dish for "MasterChef Junior."
Photo: Krashelle Cuffy

Junior Chef Brielle’s Jerk Shrimp and Pineapple Rice with Pico de Gallo and Avocado Crema

For the rice:

1 cup water

½ cup sweetened coconut milk

1 cup crushed pineapple (from a can of crushed pineapples), drained

½ cup pineapple juice (from the can of crushed pineapples)

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice,

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1½ cups basmati rice

2 to 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish, if desired

For the pico de gallo

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 red onion, diced

1 cup diced jalapeno

2 tablespoons cilantro

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Juice of half a lime

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the avocado crema:

1½ cups Greek yogurt

2 ripe avocados

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Kosher salt to taste

For the shrimp:

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 cups fresh medium-sized shrimp, deveined

Splash white cooking wine

4 1/4 teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning

¼ cup chopped green onions, for garnish

4 lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

Cook the rice: In a medium-sized pot, stir together the water, coconut milk, crushed pineapple, pineapple juice, lime juice, butter, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice. Once it returns to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook 20 minutes, until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes.

Prepare the pico de gallo: In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, red onion, jalapenos, cilantro and garlic. Add the lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prepare the avocado crema: Place the Greek yogurt, avocados and minced garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. Add kosher salt to taste. Set aside.

Prepare the shrimp: Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic and cook about 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat, stir in shrimp with a splash of white cooking wine and the jerk seasoning. Cook shrimp about 2-3 minutes more, until shrimp is pink. Turn off the heat and toss shrimp with chopped green onions, if using.

Fluff rice with fork, then stir in the chopped cilantro.

To serve, divide pineapple rice among four plates, top each with a few spoons of pico de gallo. Smear a line of avocado crema next to the rice. Arrange shrimp on the line of avocado crema. Garnish with cilantro or a lime wedge, if desired. Serves 4.

Per serving, entire recipe: 1,069 calories (percent of calories from fat, 38), 66 grams protein, 103 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fiber, 46 grams fat (22 grams saturated), 388 milligrams cholesterol, 1,065 milligrams sodium.

Reid Briggs

Age: 9

Hometown: Newnan

Signature Dish: Southern State Sliders with bacon- and cheese-infused burger patties and special sauce

Why cooking: “I like to cook because I like to eat.”

Why this particular dish: “I like to grill. I like to barbecue. I love bacon. So I infused it into the burger. And we had some cheese. So I infused that, too.”

His dad Tim Briggs’ take: “We’re not really recipe people. We all like to be creative. That’s the thing about cooking. You can express your creativity.”

Reid Briggs of Newnan with his signature slider dish for "MasterChef Junior."

Junior Chef Reid’s Southern State Sliders with Bacon-infused Burger Patties and Southern Sauce

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1 teaspoon ketchup

½ teaspoon yellow or spicy mustard

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

6 ounces raw bacon (or more, if desired)

Half a medium-sized sweet onion, finely chopped

1 1/4 pounds raw 85 percent lean ground beef

1 tablespoon powdered ranch dressing

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 slices of your favorite cheese (I like Colby Jack and cut my cheese slices with a small round cup or cookie cutter to make them round in shape

8 leaves green leaf lettuce

2 small Campari tomatoes, sliced

8 slider buns

Olive oil spray or butter, for toasting buns

Prepare Southern Sauce: In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, pickle relish, ketchup, mustard and smoked paprika. Set aside.

In a frying pan, cook the bacon halfway, leaving bacon chewy but not crisp. Set aside to cool.

Pour bacon grease into a safe container, leaving only enough to glaze the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook until caramelized. (If you did not leave enough bacon grease you can add a little butter.) Let cool.

Tear the cooled bacon into small pieces, about half the size of a penny.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the bacon, onion, raw ground beef, powdered Ranch dressing, Worcestershire and salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Form 8 small slider patties with your hands to match the size of the buns.

Grill patties or heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook in until they are browned and slightly pink in the middle, about 3 minutes per side. Flip and cook 3 minutes more. Remove sliders to a plate to rest for about 2 minutes. (If you want melted cheese, place cheese slices on burgers right before you remove from pan.)

In another nonstick skillet, spray pan with olive oil or melt a pat of butter over medium heat. Place slider bun halves cut-side down on the pan and toast until slightly golden.

To assemble: Place a slider on the bottom bun, top with a slice of cheese (unless already added), a dollop of Southern Sauce, a tomato slice and lettuce. Add top bun. Repeat with remaining sliders. Serves 8.

Per slider: 408 calories (percent of calories from fat, 65), 21 grams protein, 14 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 29 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 72 milligrams cholesterol, 708 milligrams sodium.

Rhashad Lawery

Age: 13

Hometown: Milton

Signature Dish: Shrimp scampi over pasta

Why this particular dish: “I make my pasta from scratch. It tastes better than store bought. My sauce is very clean.”

His mom Rasheda Lawery’s take: “He spent summers shadowing his grandfather (Munir Muhammad) at his family restaurant in New York City. He learned how to chop. He’s a chopping master now. That’s what really helped him on the show.”

Milton 13-year-old Rhashad Lawery's signature shrimp scampi over pasta for "MasterChef Junior."
Photo: Rasheda Lawery

Junior Chef Rhashad’s Shrimp Scampi with Homemade Linguine

For linguine:

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs, at room temperature, slightly beaten

3 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons water 

For scampi sauce:

5 tablespoons butter, divided

5 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 shallots, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

½ cup fresh, finely chopped parsley leaves

Special equipment: pasta roller and cutter

Prepare the linguine: Combine the flour, slightly beaten eggs, mild extra-virgin olive oil and salt in a mixing bowl. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough is smooth and stiff. Place dough on a floured surface and knead by hand 8-10 minutes. Cut dough into small balls, flour each ball. Roll through a pasta roller until it reaches desired thickness. Affix the linguine cutter to the machine and roll pasta through cutter.

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 4 minutes, until tender. Drain the pasta.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Saute the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes 4 minutes, until shallots are translucent. Season shrimp with salt and black pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until shrimp turns pink, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp from the sauce to a plate and keep warm.

Return skillet to the stovetop. Add the lemon juice to the sauce and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to combine. Return shrimp to skillet, add parsley and cooked linguine, tossing to combine. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper. Serves 4-6.

Per serving, based on 4: 802 calories (percent of calories from fat, 55), 37 grams protein, 53 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 49 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 423 milligrams sodium, 1,395 milligrams sodium.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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