Leon McLemore got robbed. Just flat-out robbed.
Every year at the Dillard Bluegrass and BBQ Contest, there’s a switcheroo where the judges prepare contest entries for the cooks. It’s called the George Finger Challenge, named after a revered and now-departed judge. There are trophies involved, OK? So everyone who enters really tries hard to impress. Well, except for the year Philip Brazier made hamburgers on Krispy Kreme buns. Actually, it did impress because Phillip won that year. But I think the cooks just felt sorry for him. Bless his heart.
Anyway, this year’s Challenge was no exception. I made a seafood salad with shrimp and crabmeat. I added cheese straws as sort of dipping devices. I thought they looked rather jaunty. Not bad for working out of a hotel room. Charlie Burdeshaw made a watermelon salad with feta cheese, which was a daring entry considering some of the cooks probably aren’t up on the latest gourmet food trends. I think there were about seven entries in all.
After we dropped our food off, we kind of congregated outside the judging area, waiting to get our containers back. Kathy Swift had loaned me a real sterling silver tray on which I perched my beautiful clear plastic cups filled with shredded lettuce, seafood salad and cheese straws. There would be no explaining if I somehow lost track of it. As we were waiting, one of the reps came out with a plate on which sat what looked like mincemeat pie. “You’ve got to try this,” he said.
Wow. Wow, wow, wow. It was Leon McLemore’s Cajun Meat Pie. Now, I will confess that the photo at the right was not taken by me because by the time we had turned in our entries it was 8:45 p.m. and the Chardonnay had kicked in. But it looked just like the picture except without the greenery. I will tell you that it was in the top ten things I’ve ever eaten and I knew then and there that Leon McLemore had whipped my seafood salad butt. And I told him so.
Imagine my surprise when the awards were announced the next afternoon that Leon did not win. He was not even in the top three. When the scoresheets were passed out, I saw with shock that he had finished sixth. SIXTH! Right behind my pitiful seafood salad.
But the pen is mightier than the sword, so to speak, so here is Leon’s recipe for the world to savor. You’ll notice its proper name is French, but Cajun Meat Pie does sound better.
Tourtiere ( Cajun Meat Pie)
2 pounds of ground lean pork
½ cup of chopped onion
1 cup of chopped celery
1 garlic clove, crushed
¼ cup of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of leaf marjoram, crushed
¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
¼ teaspoon of ground mace
½ teaspoon of ground pepper
2 tablespoons of flour
2 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup of hot water
Pastry for a 2-crust pie, unbaked
1. Sauté pork, onion, celery and garlic in a large skillet until pork is brown and vegetables are tender.
2. Stir in parsley, salt, marjoram, cloves, mace and pepper; cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
3. Drain excess fat from skillet; blend flour into meat mixture. Add bouillon cubes dissolved in hot water.
4. Return to heat and bring mixture to a boil; simmer for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5. Pile meat mixture in pie shell, top with other shell, seal and flute edges. (Brush with egg if desired.)
6. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes one nine-inch pie. Serves six. Can be eaten warm or cold.
*Published in “The Top 100 Cajun Recipes of All Time,” by Acadian House Publishing, Lafayette, Louisiana. Recipe submitted by Mrs. Hazel Gourgues, Hahnville (St. Charles Parish).