We had been talking about an in-office Will On the Grill Spaghetti Sauce Cook-off for a while and finally all the contestants were in town and ready to go. The contestants were Nation Photographer Neil Diamond, Ad Manager Aaron MacDevit and Art Director Richard Lawson. They would be judged on taste, texture, presentation, pasta, bouquet, spiciness, extras and the spaghetti overall. The sauces were named 1, 2 and 3 so no prejudging or bribes would interfere with the results. Sauce 1 was the largest. I called it Mom’s Healthy Helping for presentation. Sauce 2 was a standard restaurant presentation while Sauce 3 was a nouveau Plateau Mont Royal pretentious presentation suitable for wannabe yuppies and vegetarians hoping to impress. All the pasta was just the right amount of firmness without being too hard.
Overall Sauce 1 was the winner. It had a very mature taste that left no doubt it has been refined over many years of making spaghetti. Sauce 2 was naughty but nice. It had an extra spiciness that I enjoyed. One judge hesitantly said Sauce 3 had an unusual flavour. I was less kind and remarked that Sauce 3 should be fed to wild starving cats as an experiment to see if they would actually eat it. The taste stayed around a bit longer than I liked. After the judging we found out that Sauce 3 had been bought. It was the most expensive designer spaghetti sauce that money could buy and it still lost to the homemade entries.
The winner was Neil followed very closely by Aaron. As for the cheater, Lawson was disqualified and mocked. We’ll never trust him again in a cook-off.
Below is the winner’s recipe.
Neil’s World Famous in Eeyou Istchee Spaghetti Sauce
ground beef (lean) 1 pound
canned tomatoes 2 cans, (liquefied in blender)
tomato paste 1 can
green pepper chopped extra fine
red pepper chopped extra fine
yellow pepper chopped extra fine
onion chopped extra fine
garlic 5 to 6 cloves crushed
oregano lots of it
sage 2 pinches
pepper to taste
salt to taste
chili powder to taste
tabasco sauce A few dashes
brown sugar 1 tablespoon
*red wine 1 cup
whole mushrooms (optional)
1. In a large pot, brown ground beef over medium heat. Drain excess oil, and place back in pot.
2. Add onions, peppers, and garlic. Keep stirring until all partially cooked.
3. Add liquefied tomatoes and tomato paste, stirring constantly. Add wine and the rest of the ingredients.
4. Cook over medium heat for about one hour. Simmer covered and stir every few minutes.
5. Add optional mushrooms 15 minutes before serving. Call and invite me over.
*Top Secret Ingredient
Light & Simple Cordon Bleu Chicken
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 slices fat-free ham halved
2 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese halved
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place 1 chicken breast half, boned side up, between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Working from center, gently pound chicken with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick; remove wrap. Repeat with remaining chicken breast halves.
3. Place 1/2 slice each of ham and cheese on each chicken breast half. Fold in sides; roll up jellyroll fashion, pressing ends to seal. If necessary, secure with toothpicks.
4. Place flour and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls.
5. Place egg in another shallow bowl; beat well.
6. Coat chicken with flour; dip in beaten egg. Roll chicken in breadcrumbs; place in ungreased 8-inch square baking dish.
7. Spray chicken rolls with nonstick cooking spray.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken
is fork-tender and juices run clear.