I’m no stranger to throwing parties and events–especially music-related fetes–but this was the first time I put on an event like the Baltimore Crock Pot Cook Off. I’ve been a contestant in several similar competitions in New York, hosted by my friend Matt Timms, who has gone on to make a name for himself nationally with these type of amateur cooking battles, and based on the amount of fun I had participating, I knew I had to throw an event of my own. Actually, I did not do this on my own, but in collaboration with my friend Mike Nguyen with whom I run the website known as Eating Baltimore. Though the site is not quite finished, it promises to be an excellent resource for foodies who live in or travel to Charm City and want to know what’s cooking. We plan on having restaurant reviews, recipe postings, and, of course, more events on a platform that will be heavy on video content.
So as the unofficial launch of Eating Baltimore, we planned the Crock Pot Cook Off, and really did not know what to expect. But the response among Baltimore’s home cooks was tremendous. We also got coverage in the Baltimore Sun and Baltimore Magazine blogs as well as a feature in the Urbanite, and a pick of the week in the City Paper. The turn-out could have been better, but as a first event, we were happy that everyone who cooked and attended was happy and had a great time (because we did too!).
Here’s a list of the contestants and the great dishes they made:
1.) Asier Leatxe Ibanez de Opakoa – Marmitako (Basque Fisherman’s Stew)
2.) Sheila Wells – Triple Chili
3.) Kate Felderski – Chicken Tetrazini
4.) Jo Cosgrove – Bison Heart Stew
5.) Paul Sevigny – Jerk Goat
6.) Anthony Terranova – St. Bastard’s Slaughtered Lamb Stew
7.) Erin Oster – BBQ pork ribs
8.) Paige Thomas – Bourbon Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding
9.) Jeanne-Marie Burdette – Pulled Pork Sandwiches
10.) Lesley Boeckman – Lentil Stew
Unfortunately, #6 and #7 were no shows, but their absence in no way detracted from the overall menu selections. I can honestly say that there was not a bad dish in the house. In other words, stomach permitting, I would have gladly eaten a full plate of any one of the above offerings.
But, alas, this was a competition and though friendly it was, there could only be three winners (for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place), so this is how things ended up:
1st Place — Paul Sevigny — Jamaican Jerk Goat
2nd Place–Jo Cosgrove–Bison Heart Stew
3rd Place–Paige Thomas–Bourbon Spiked Pumpkin Bread Pudding (Vegan)
So congrats to all the home cooks, who poured their all into their crock pots, but especially to Paul, who put a little extra care and effort into making the winning dish, for which he was gracious enough to share his recipe:
(Serves 6-8. Many Rocks Farm sells excellent goat meat at the Sunday market by the JFX.)
4 pounds goat meat (shank, leg or shoulder), trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces. Reserve bones for stock.
2 bunches of scallions, chopped
5 habanero peppers, seeded
2 onions, chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cup thick coconut milk
Juice of 2 limes
1 cup water or stock
Salt & pepper
1 tsp allspice
4 tsp black pepper, whole
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
4 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp ginger, ground
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3 tsp turmeric, ground
- Grind all spices together.
- Mince habanero peppers. (De-seed peppers if desired.)
- Put meat pieces into a bowl or freezer bag. Add 4 tbsp of spice blend, 4 tbsp oil and minced peppers. Mix thoroughly to coat all meat pieces . Place in the refrigerator to marinade overnight. (Meanwhile, to make stock, put bones into crockpot, add water to just cover, add salt and pepper and cook on high for 8 hours. Strain and set stock aside.)
- Add 3 tbsp oil to heavy pan and heat to med-high. Add 3 tbsp spice blend to pan and stir in the oil. Add goat meat and fry for 12 minutes stirring frequently. Add chopped onions and continue to stir fry until soft and translucent.
- Transfer meat mixture to empty crockpot. Add garlic, tomatoes, coconut milk, lime juice and 1 cup of water or stock. Stir. Cook on high for 1 hour. Then cook on low for 8 hours. Stir every couple of hours.
- Serve with basmati rice and a chutney.
Green Tomato Chutney
(Makes about 2 cups. Multiply quantities if home canning.)
1 pint green grape tomatoes, halved (or regular-sized tomatoes, chopped)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 green birdseye chilis, chopped (deseeded if desired)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cardamom pods, bruised
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Put chopped tomatoes, bell pepper and shallots in crockpot. Add cider vinegar, cover and cook on high for 2 hours.
- Stir in sugar, chilis, ginger, garlic, bruised cardamom pods, spices and salt. Cover and cook for additional 2 hours. Then uncover and cook for 1 hour or until chutney has a thick consistency. Adjust seasoning if desired.
- Allow to cool and serve, or spoon hot chutney into sterilized jars and heat process if home canning.