My Casserole Cookoff Entry: Jewish Penicillin
Last night was the sixth annual Brooklyn Casserole Party hosted by Emily Farris, the author of “Casserole Crazy: Hot Stuff for Your Oven”. This would have been my third year attending if not for a last minute scheduling conflict during last year’s event, which is why I was thrilled to be back competing. And while the basic premise, celebrating the love for all things ooey gooey and baked in a casserole remained the same, the magnitude of the event has seriously taken off. 44 (yes, I said 44) casseroles were to be judged by the panel of three all while the rest of us scarfed down on the cheesy, meaty, veggy filled offerings and washed it all down with some free (thanks to the donation) Brooklyn Brewery beer.
“Enough with the description…how the hell did you do!”
Well, I guess you’d say, defeat never tasted so good! Out of the 44 casseroles I can’t say much on where I “finished” but this matzo ball soup inspired casserole did get a ton of compliments. (Including some serious love from Cathy from Not Eating Out in NY) And that’s plenty good for me. So what is a matzo ball soup inspired casserole?
Starting off with a homemade chicken stock and the meat from the chicken that made it, the comforting flavors of every Jewish (and other) mother’s go-to remedy were immediately obvious. Boiling the matzo balls in the broth was another way to boost the flavor for what ended up being the required “starch” that held the casserole together. Using the chicken stock and a roux to make a thick and creamy sauce, the matzo balls were covered with chicken, leeks, carrots, celery and cheddar cheese and baked until golden brown. But the real kicker got a few heads turning. Because while bacon may be a favorite of many to top off an already rich meal, I stuck with my theme. Crispy chicken skin not only perfumed the smell of soup throughout the room, but it tasted so damn good!
And while my dish wasn’t one of the top three judged by the panel which included Camille Ford from the Travel Channel’s “Food Wars”, Ann M. Kansfield, a co-pastor at the Greenpoint Reformed Church, and Corey Henderson from the Universal Records Database, the night was wildly successful. The Greenpoint Soup kitchen raised close to $1000 (at least by the time I had left) and everyone left feeling full and comforted…at least I know I did!
As for the winners, congrats to everyone who participated but particularly to the top 3 who left with some pretty sweet casserole inspired prizes! Unfortunately with 44 casseroles present and a mob scene trying to get a taste of everything, I was unable to try many of the dishes. But I’ll keep an eye out for other casserole cook off run downs to post to figure out who did what. Thanks again to Emily Farris and her hard working team. I’m already looking forward to next year!