Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cooking Contests

posted by The Vidiot @ 5:49 PM Permalink

What does it take to win them? I haven't a clue. Apparently, since I've entered the same one twice now and not even gotten a door prize. Last year, maybe I could understand, I did something simple, a blueberry risotto. It wasn't too fancy, but it was well made. But the ones that won had all sorts of weird ingredients so I thought, "OK, if I do it again, I'll make something weird." So this time, I did New Orleans Crawfish Étoufee´ Risotto (Obviously, it's a risotto competition.) And the one that won was, well, I THINK, a little bland. I mean BLAND. I guess you could say the flavor was subtle, but if it's so subtle you have to guess? It's too subtle. Another one that won had rhubarb in it. I mean, RHUBARB? Whateverrr.

Mine was delicious. Mr. Vidiot went around and tried everyone else's and was like, "Your's is so much better. Oh my god, so much better." But when it came time for voting, I think one of the judges was anti-meat or something. And even the people's choice one was all for the bland. It's like the 20-somethings taste buds are all in their ass or something. Either Mr. Vidiot and I have way too exotic taste buds or everyone else is dead in the mouth.

Anyway, I'm going to share the recipe here for you so you can be the judge.

New Orleans Crawfish Étoufeé Risotto

1 stick of butter
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (some jalapeno peppers if you so desire)
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 link of andouille sausage, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
2 cups aborio rice
2 cups of chicken stock mixed with 3 cups of water
1/2 cup white wine
1 pound of crawfish or shrimp, (if you can't get crawfish.)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste, (Tony's Cajun spices if you have it.)
Serve with Tabasco sauce.

Heat stock and water to a boil
Melt butter and saute peppers, onions, andouille and celery until onion is soft.
Add garlic and bay leaves and cook for one minute.
Add rice with 2 cups of stock and water mix. Stir and let absorb. Put shrimp or crawfish into remaining stock.
When rice is thick and pulling away from bottom, add white wine. Let absorb. Add stock with shrimp or crawfish in increments until all absorbed. Stir constantly.
Ideal consistency is a little al dente, not mushy. Should be a little soupy. If you need to add more water, do so.
Right before serving, mix in green onions and parsley.

I'm telling you, it's like cocaine. A little won't sell you, but a lot will addict you.

Update: Ooops, nearly forgot, you should add about a tablespoon of tomato paste or a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to give a pinkish color. Not important for flavor however.

You know, I just read the entire post over and it sounds a little like I'm all sour grapes over it. I'm not. It's just that I can't quite figure out what the criteria was and it's exasperating. I believe I know what good food is. I was raised by fabulous cooks. Mr. Vidiot grew up in New Orleans of all places and that's like food mecca. We can't be totally wrong, can we?

Then again, maybe we just have no idea what good food is and everyone else does. But it doesn't matter. I slapped 20 much needed pounds on that boy after I met him. I must be doing something right.



At 4:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


So you say that all your competitors were a bunch of vegeterian-predisposed 20-somethings ... weren't there any contestants there that were -- uh -- your age (and as a consequence, maybe even have shared some "btdt" culinary experiences of "wide-world" life similar to your own)?

And a (at least one) JUDGE was a meat-hating "moran?" Expand some, what was the average age of the judges anyway? Was one (or more) of them named Quai-Chang (just can't trust those Shaolin-esque grazers, ya' know)?

Ultimately, do you think that any of those young contestants had ever escaped any further than 50 miles south of the Mason/Dixon line?

Sounds to me like the adjudicating capitalist sponsors were targeting the dominant age-group for prize-winning success ... you were simply out-voted by (or because of) the kindergarten crowd.


At 11:23 AM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

Well said!

I just figure that Mr. Vidiot and I like our food to be part of the overall atmosphere and not the exercise in and of itself. No, fru-fru dribbles of balsamic vinegar, no chi-chi sprigs of fresh thyme. Just good food that accompanies good conversation, good wine and good music, not food that overpowers and outperforms any of that. Food that, when you're done, you say, wow, that was good in way that meant you hadn't really noticed it until you stopped.

I think the younger crowd is more keyed into food as performance. They were all up on the hippest ingredients and methods. My food could've been served 50 years ago or 50 years from now, and it will still be considered good. The rhubarb gorganzola supreme? Not so much.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

BTW, my grandmothe's grandmother, at age 107, took me down to "the crick" and taught me how to catch crawdads like a bandit. Then, bucket of crawdads in hand, handrolled cigar in her mouth, she'd stroll through the chicken yard snatching up any chickens that came too close and with a single motion would snap their necks and tuck them under her arm before returning to her cabin to flash boil them for plucking. She made one single exception to modern times, she had a single electric light so she could read at night. She passed away at age 112 and was and remains the singlemost coolest person it was ever my privilege to know.

At 1:40 PM, Blogger The Vidiot said...

Oh my gawd she sounds awesome.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Bill Arnett said...

It's funny, but all we Arnett's USED to lead very long lives - until the last twenty years or so. I'll always believe my grandma's grandma lived so long 'cause she was w-a-a-ay out dere in the Ozark Mountains where fresh air and hard farm work were the norm.


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