I did not cheat. I improvised.
I would not call it cheating. I just have to say that from the outset. I would call it creative use of ingredients not on the “approved” list but available to all. If they’d only thought of it. But only I did. That is my badge of honor and I will wear it proudly.
We are, all of us, fast friends. The Char-Broil All Star bloggers started as a group of strangers from all over the country and from different walks of life. But we are now a solid band of culinary nerds on parade. Until the grilling competition. Then we become Bobby Flay versus Morimoto in our own delusional version of Kitchen Stadium.
Char-Broil gets all of its bloggers together every year in some unimaginably luxurious setting. We’re pretty stoked about that. After meetings and demonstrations and what-not we get to the meat of the matter. A Chopped-style grilling competition. Winners get bragging rights for an entire year. This year, in Atlantic Beach, Florida, the focus was on seafood. We got a red snapper fillet, some calamari and head-on shrimp. And four ingredients we had to use: a blood orange, sun-dried tomatoes, collard greens and…ta da!…chocolate. There were additional ingredients: lemons, parsley, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper.
So why would you not want to make a lovely blood orange juice and butter sauce to go over your grilled red snapper? What? You have no butter? Why would you not ask Sheila, my new best friend and the bartender, to procure a little butter from the kitchen? If only it had not come in a giant log. If only I had been able to conceal the butter under a napkin. If only, when Mary from Char-Broil asked what the giant log of butter was, I would have said, “My medicine. I can’t be without it, even for a second.”
For the record, Christo Gonzales used white wine. White wine was not on the approved list. Did anyone say a single solitary word to him about it? Did anyone actually notice that he used it since he was drinking heavily at the time and it could have just been his drink? It’s not as hard to conceal a few wee drops of wine as it is an entire foot-long log of butter.
My teammate, Curt McAdams of livefire, was a trooper. He never even questioned my easily-detected deception. And he didn’t even wince when I took the bold step of adding the chocolate to the collards, which turned out to be a triumph.
Curt took the award-winning photo of our dish. Yes, like children at the end of a Little League season, we all won a category. Danielle and Jane won the big prize, though, for a very fetching entry that involved stuffing seafood into shells. Hey, wait a minute. Shells. Were they on the approved list? Curt and I may have to appeal this to the International Char-Broil Court of Unfair and Arbitrary Judging. I’ll look up the address in a minute.
Livefire Photography, copyright 2013