‘I Haven’t Used A Recipe In Over 10 Years’: How Abbey Whipped Up Her Mystery Box Win

Abbey Rose didn't skip a beat when this week's Mystery Box ingredients were revealed.

The judges chose a gorgeous mix of meat, seafood and produce that included spatchcock chicken, calamari, lemons, tarragon, mango, tamarind, fish sauce, spring onions and "the most vilified vegetable in Australia", Brussels sprouts.

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Speaking to 10 daily on the phone after her win, Abbey said that she wasn't fazed when contents of the box were revealed for the first Mystery Box challenge this season.

"I don’t tend to use recipes," she said, adding that she usually finds inspiration by carefully surveying the ingredients she has on hand, or what's in season at the shops. 

"I think the last time I looked at a recipe was probably ten years ago, for anything savoury," she told us, although she will consult a guide if she has a crack at anything sweet that involves baking.  

Abbey explained that she learned her Mystery Box skills as a necessity, growing up in a single parent family where money was often pretty tight.

"I’m an only child and we really struggled financially," she said.

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"Food is one thing that sort of made us happy when we’d cook together, but we couldn’t really afford eye fillet or a very expensive piece of salmon."

Abbey and her mum would head to the fruit and veg shop, study the specials and learn how to work with whatever was in season and didn't cost an arm and a leg.

"So that kind of taught me how to cook -- not based on what a recipe dictates to use but what’s in front of you... you have to get creative," she explained. 

Which is exactly what she did to produce her spatchcock with Brussels sprouts "cooked a few ways" with a chicken jus for Sunday evening's episode.

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Gary Mehigan praised the dish as being "what chicken dinner dreams are made of" and the inventive recipe earned her a spot in the next immunity challenge.

Cutting Down On Waste In The Kitchen

Abbey also scored top marks for her commitment to zero waste cooking -- using every part of the spatchcock (including the carcass to create the jus) and creatively cooking the sprouts a few different ways.

She told 10 daily a few of her tricks to cut down on waste and avoid sending delicious food to landfill.

"Things like broccoli, people cut off the little florets and throw out the stalk but for me, I actually think the stalk is the best part of it," she said. 

Abbey also collects all the tops and tails from veg she's chopped up that week and stores them in a bowl in the fridge.

"Then I chuck them in a pot of water and let them go for three or four hours and you’ve got a beautiful vegetable stock which just boosts everything," she said.

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When her MasterChef journey wraps up, Abbey hopes to open a cafe in the Hunter Valley that "showcases fresh, local produce" and has a menu that changes weekly, according to what's in season.

But first, she's got a very important milestone on the horizon.

"I’m getting married at the end of the year, so financially that’s going to take a lot out of me at the moment, but the cafe is the plan after the wedding," she said.

We can't wait to see what she cooks up next!

MasterChef Australia airs Sunday to Thursday nights at 7.30pm. Only On 10 And WIN Network. Miss an episode? Catch up on 10 Play or 10 All Access!