Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Cooked the Snowshoe Grilling Challenge last weekend in Abington, Massachusetts. I felt pretty good about the recipe plans going into the event, but it just didn't work out well. The team list was strong, but I feel we could have done much better with better execution.

We got on site at around 7:30 AM. That was plenty early, as the only thing we were cooking that would take any time is the sausage fatty. The rest of the categories, fish, beef and vegetable, were all short cook recipes.

Our setup was bare bones. Since it was sunny, we didn't even take the pop up tent out of the Ford Explorer. Two tables, two plastic bins of supplies, one cooler. We fit everything for the event in our SUV, and didn't even have to tie anything to the roof. We did all the prep at home Friday night, so all we really had to do was show up and cook.
The fish category, I had planned to play it safe and do a grilled swordfish. That's something I have cooked many times before, and gotten several calls for it. However, while I was on the way to buy fish, Sheila called and pitched a recipe for a pistashio encrusted salmon. We talked about it and decided to give it a try.

How did it taste? Well, we will never know. I only purchased one large Atlantic salmon filet, and we cooked it whole, and turned the whole thing in. It was finished with a teriyaki glaze, which I had planned to drizzle from a squirt bottle. However, a chunk of the dice in the sauce clogged the top of the squirt bottle, and when it came out it blasted a huge blob of sauce on the fish. I tried to salvage the appearance but it didn't look that great.
The fish took 9th place out of 17 teams. I could not find a judge to admit having eaten it. It appeared to be very moist. If any judge cares to admit having it please shoot me an e-mail to and give me some feedback.

Next was sausage fatty. In case you do not know what that is, it is sausage (usually breakfast) either stuffed or mixed with cheese and other ingredients, then hit with some BBQ rub and smoked. I used my usual fatty recipe,and it just missed the mark, taking 6th place.

Next was beef of any kind. This was our worst category of the day. I cook steaks all the time, both at home and in grilling contests. However, with the strong team list, I decided to cook a tenderloin. I seared it, then roasted it with a gorganzola panko crust. Finished with a red wine reduction. I didn't have enough usable pieces so I had to half them, and the box did not look good. 12th place.

The final category was vegetables. We decided to make vegetable quesadillas, with Sheila's famous salsa, jalapenos, a blend of cheddar and jack cheeses, finished with a dallop of limed sour cream. We could have assembled these hours earlier. However, we didn't. We barely made the steak turn in time, and were scrambling to get these finished and in the box. Still, took 6th place.

So overall we got no calls and finished 9th place of the 17 teams. Could have been better. You can't make key mistakes like I did and expect to finish among the top teams that were at the event. While I was unhappy and a little embarrased by the showing, it's not the end of the world. We learned a lot and will be ready for the next one, whenever that is.


Anonymous said...

"tenderloin. I seared it, then roasted it with a gorganzola panko crust?"

Really? I had that and I had no idea there was any sort of crust on it. It just didn't translate when it got to the table. Maybe the wine reduction knocked it off. Tenderloin? Really? You sure?

Ted Lorson said...

Well, I left out an important detail. When I sliced the meat, it all fell off. If you look closely at the picture, there are little bits and pieces around, but that was it.

The dish was poorly executed. No excuses.

Ted Lorson said...

And identify yourself!

Ted Lorson said...