Why So Many Chopped Contestants Mess Up Lentils, According To Alex Guarnaschelli

Those who have been regularly tuning into the Food Network's "Chopped" know that there are a few telltale signs that a contestant might be next up for elimination. Making a risotto? Good luck, as the creamy rice dish is nearly impossible for chefs to pull off in the short amount of cooking time they have, likely sending them down the hallway of shame at the end of the round (via Mashable). Banking on getting into the kitchen's one deep fryer during the last two minutes of competition? Not a good plan either. And when it comes to the dessert round, Mashable says that competitors who try to make a bread pudding or ice cream with some or all of their basket ingredients may find their quest to be a "Chopped" champion cut short as well.

Another dish that makes "Chopped" super fans cringe? Lentils. While the protein and fiber-rich legumes don't require a soaking period as some beans do, lentils, like risotto, need to be cooked for the proper amount of time — typically between 20 and 40 minutes (via The Spruce Eats) — to avoid being underdone when served to the judges, which ends up happening more often than not. However, "Chopped" judge Alex Guaranschelli doesn't think the task is impossible, so long as competitors employ the right strategy to pull it off.

Chopped contestants need to get lentils boiling as soon as the clock starts ticking

Future "Chopped" contestants — if you're not following Alex Guarnaschelli on Twitter, go hit the follow button as soon as possible. The "Chopped" judge frequently shares some insight on how to combat some of the cooking competition's most notorious problems, including how to go about making lentils on the show. 

Following an inquiry from a fan questioning a contestant's choice of trying to cook the legumes, Guarnaschelli assured that they can, in fact, be done. "They need to be power boiled from minute 1 to minute 28," the chef explained in her tweet. Therefore, competitors should probably wait until the 30-minute entrée round before grabbing the lentils out of the pantry to ensure that they have enough time to properly cook them. Fortunately, each competitor's station is equipped with pots of water that have already been brought to a boil (via Food Network), so the only thing that the chefs need to focus on is getting the lentils into the pot as soon as the clock starts ticking. 

Another Twitter user also pointed out that certain varieties of the legume, like red lentils, cook faster than others, though it is very possible that the "Chopped" pantry doesn't offer these types for contestants to use. The suspense of waiting to see if a competitor can get them properly cooked in time for plating does make for good TV after all!