I was recently invited to participate in Barilla Pasta and Chef’s Roll “Bayou to the Bay” contest. An honor extended to a few selected chefs. The mission: To create a Southern inspired dish using one of four given pasta varieties. As soon as I read the words, “Southern inspired”, my mind immediately went to fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens! Then I thought, how could I bring all those flavors to life in a pasta dish?
I, of course, drew inspiration on what I know best, leftovers. I remembered a Tuesday’s Tip video I did making a cream sauce out of leftover pimento cheese.
Pimento cheese, another Southern treat, so I decided I’d start there. One thought of pimento cheese gave me another thought-my pimento cheese stuffed pecans, it was then that I decided that I needed to have pecans in my dish. When creating a dish, I not only “cook” it in my head before getting in the kitchen, but I also write it out and draw it. (Mind you my drawing is stick figure level adaptations, but it works for a visual!) I talked all about my creative process on my last appearance on the popular podcast, Pardon My Fork.
After a little bit of brainstorming, I came up with my Southern Comfort bowl. A hickory smoked pimento cheese pasta over a bed of sautéed pecan collard greens with fried chicken “chips” sprinkled with Andouille “bacon”. Yes, fried chicken “chips”, like the ones I topped with caramelized onions, apples, and bleu cheese.
The contest winner will receive an amazing culinary opportunity at White Oak Plantation. For me, that would definitely be a dream come true. Not only is Chef John Folse one of my favorite Louisiana chefs, but the plantation is almost in my backyard! In addition to the grand prize winner, there are many more chef treasures to be won from the People’s Choice awards. What is the People’s Choice? It’s the chefs with the most votes for their dish. (Yes, that is a plug to please vote for me and for my dish.) It’s quick and easy. Simply click here. Scroll to my dish and vote! Thanks!
Here’s the recipe for my Southern Comfort Bowl, only this one I changed the ingredients to incorporate leftover pimento cheese.
You can still cast a vote for me and my Southern Comfort Bowl here.
Put On Your TO COOK IS TO CREATE Thinking Cap: Not a collard green fan? Simply sauté your favorite greens like turnip, spinach, kale, or mustard. No pecans? Use other nuts like almonds or walnuts. No leftover pimento cheese? Simply make your favorite macaroni and cheese, or even better use the leftovers. In the mood for fish? You can use catfish the same way as the chicken! Bacon lover? Add bacon to the greens, the pimento cheese sauce, and the garnish. This dish also makes a great brunch special, simply add a poached egg. Have a leftover piece of fried chicken? Use it. Have leftover pimento cheese sauce? Use it to top steamed vegetables or baked potatoes. This dish can even be layered in a casserole, topped with chicken breasts, and baked , too. Leftover collard greens and pecans? Make a pesto sauce and freeze it for later use.
FOOD FUN: If you are a pimento cheese lover and just can’t get enough, then you need to head out on the highway… to Cary, North Carolina for the second annual pimento cheese festival. It’s June 8 this year, so there’s still time to plan. Need your taste buds tempted? There will be fried pimento cheese pies! Anything with the words fried and cheese in it is a winner to me!
Speaking of winning…here’s another shameless plug for a VOTE!