Mini Jambalaya Cookoff 2009
Gonzales Jambalaya Festival
May 23, 2009
I haven't cooked in the Gonzales Jambalaya Mini Cooking Contest since 1995! SOOOOO, Here I am defending my '95 Championship! OK!! Just a little late!
I can not begin to tell you how many people came up to me and wished me well!! It was like I have been there the last 14 years!! It was just heartwarming to be welcomed back into their community! What a JOY!
Some things have changed about the cookoff. WELL, first it is under the GREAT oaks of the K of C hall in Gonzales!!! It was SOOOOO nice to cook in the shade!
BUT, what hasn't changed is the cooking.
You have to cook over a wood fire and in a mini pot and stand. I used mine from all those contests back in the '80s and '90s! And I used fresh pork shoulder and sausage. I fried down the meats to make a dark brown graton, then deglazed the pot with fresh onions. I had a beautiful wood fire by using mesquite wood and my decades old cast iron skillet as the fire pit.
The rules state that you can't add any bouillon, so the stock you see is from adding water and cooking down the meats. That is the secrete to a GREAT jambalaya. Then you add you peppers, garlic and seasonings! Of Course, Simmer so that the flavors marry.
When the rice is added ya gotta cover the pot. I love using my small cast iron egg skillet as a lid!! IT is heavy and makes the perfect seal to lock in the water vapor to steam the rice.
NOW, that is a BEAUTIFUL mini pot of Jambalaya!!
OK, OK, I didn't win. They have changed the judging rules.
Cooks are asked to supply a "Sample" of your jambalaya. Many of the cooks just supplied some of the cooked rice, without any of the cooked meats. That is just WEIRD!!
The judging used to be that the "whole pot" was judged and view by the judges. I honestly think that is a better way of examining the jambalaya. It should be a total experience, meat, rice, aroma and overall appearance is what is paramount. I hope they go back to the old way of judging. This is not "sour grapes", just IMHO.
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Chef Emile L. Stieffel, Aurora Catering, Inc. email address: ChefEmile@CustomCatering.net
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