In just a couple of weeks, the 2013 POMA Axed Cooking Contest will take place at the Professional Outdoor Media Association’s Business Conference in Columbia, South Carolina. This event that started for fun at the POMA Conference in Odgen, Utah a couple years back has turned into a hotly contested matter of pride and bragging rights. Not to mention the great prize package from sponsor Camp Chef!
There were a lot of requests for the winning recipes from the 2012 POMA AXED cooking contest held during the POMA Conference in Tunica, Mississippi last year. The winning OutfittersRating.com team of Bill Miller and Doug McDougal survived stiff competition in both rounds to win by the slimmest of margins.
POMA Axed teams consist of a head chef and an assistant. Four teams at a time enter the identical outdoor kitchens prepared by Camp Chef with stoves, grills and all the other necessary gear. The state and regional tourism boards gather local ingredients which are kept secret until the stopwatch is started. There’s also a larder of staples the teams share to prepare their dishes. The time limit is one half hour from the reveal of the secret ingredients to plated meals. Each team is required to prepare an identical plate for each of three judges.
The contest is all about improvisation, so when it comes to the winning recipes, I can tell you what as on the menu and how we prepared it, but if I tried to tell you how much of which ingredient I’d be making it up … just like we did in the contest.
First Round Secret Ingredients: catfish, fresh green beans, sweet green pepper, tomatoes, yellow summer squash, and peaches.
We marinated the catfish in lemon juice, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled it just until the fish flaked. No heavy breading or batter or frying in oil. We roughly diced the tomatoes and peaches (a little bigger than ¼-inch dice) with a bit of onion and added vinegar, oil and a bit of sugar to create a vinaigrette salsa. We sliced the yellow squash into ¼-inch thick disks, floured them lightly, and quickly fried them in a little oil; then we mixed melted butter and brown sugar to make a syrup for them. Finally we quickly sautéed the beans and sliced peppers together.
Cook-off Round Secret Ingredients: whole quail, bacon (they call it fatback in Mississippi), sweet potatoes, fresh green beans, peaches, and parsley.
To begin, we fried some of the bacon to get a bit of grease and lots of flavor in the pan. In the meantime I butterflied the quail, then we seared off all sides of the quail at high heat. As soon as that was done we wrapped the quail in foil and put it at the back of the grill for the rest of the time. Seasoning was just salt and pepper.
We sautéed sweet potato slices in bacon fat with a couple cloves of garlic and a bit of the parsley, then added salt and pepper, and a little brown sugar, and fresh parsley when we plated. We cut up more bacon and fried it with the green beans adding just a touch of black pepper. We cut the peaches in half and grilled them cut side down. To serve, we made more of the butter/brown sugar syrup from the first round and drizzled it over the grilled peaches, then garnished with a half slice of crisp fried bacon. You just can’t go wrong with more bacon!
There you have the winning recipes!