Sorry for the delay – things have been a wee bit busy!
So we (Saffron and I) cooked her second / my first Dutch Oven championship, and I have to say that I had an awesome time, and learned a number of things.
Lesson 1: I really need more practice in Dutch Oven competition cooking!
For those of you unfamiliar with a Dutch Oven competition, the teams (not more than 2 people) are required to cook three courses: a bread, a main dish (primarily protein), and a dessert. Our menu:
- Herb Foccacia with Sundried Tomatoes and Garlic
- Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Breast with Stuffed Potatoes
- Chocolate Chipotle Cabernet Cake with Cherry Reduction
Oh, another little tidbit in the rules is that you’re supposed to be cooking with something close to “on the trail” authenticity. Translation: No electric / battery-powered equipment. Making bread? You’re kneading and rising like great-grandma did! Creaming butter? You had better make sure it is well softened first.
As a team, we chose to take a minimalist approach for our presentations, the better to highlight the food. Saffron’s chicken did well (third place in our round), but neither the focaccia or cake did as well (OK, last place for both). While both the bread and dessert had judges who liked them, unfortunately the majority were on the “not so much” side.
The issues? Well…
The focaccia’s third rise, after it was formed, didn’t go so well; it ended up a bit dense and a bit crunchy. I attribute that to two things: The elevation (SLC, anyone?), and the Dutch Oven I was rising in may have gotten too hot, and knocked off the yeasties.
The cake had its own issues. We didn’t let it cool sufficiently before dropping it out of the oven, so part of it stuck.
Here’s another rule for you: What you cook, you must serve. If you have something burnt, you must turn it in. The cake stuck in the bottom of the oven? You must get it out and get it to the judges.
I am happy to say that after enough cooling, we were able to remove the remaining cake, and I got it assembled into something approaching the desired shape. In the end, it wasn’t the extraction failure that hurt so much as the chipotle powder in the recipe. Even after my test cooking, it turned out to be too much (while I liked the heat, I will admit it was hotter than expected).
Lesson 2: Even though technically in the Southwest, Salt Lake City residents are heat wimps.
Even though the cooking portion of the day didn’t go as well as we would have liked, the event was tons of fun, and I’m happy to say that we met a lot of awesome people. I’m looking forward to qualifying again so that I can give it another run.
Since we didn’t move on to the final round of the Dutch Oven competition, Saffron and I packed up and hurried ourselves 8 miles up the road to the BBQ competition, to do what we’re good at. SLC Part 3 coming up…
To round things out, here are pictures of the turn-ins for your enjoyment: