Jul 23, 2012 03:39 PM WV Food
WV LIVING shares their favorite foods
Crab Orchard Woman Turns Up the Heat
With thousands of cheering spectators, a grilling guru for a judge, and $10,000 at stake, the DOLE California Cook-Off is no ordinary backyard barbecue, and this year’s winner is no ordinary cook. Jeannette Nelson, of Crab Orchard, won the grand prize at the annual competition, which took place at The Grove in Los Angeles, California, on June 24, 2012. “I love the feeling of winning,” she says, “and I’m very blessed to be creative like this.”
Jeannette’s Taste of Dole Island Pork Sliders with Pineapple Jicama Salsa won over the panel of judges, which included Chef Ben Ford (son of Harrison Ford), award-winning culinary diva Kristina Vanni, food blogger Shari Sacchi, and Facebook sweepstakes winner Suzanne Bonner.
Jeannette says she is “fascinated with small appetizers” and came up with the winning recipe by combining a slider with island flavors like mango and pineapple. “It’s about having that one recipe and making sure it’s really great,” she says.
Her mouth-watering recipe was chosen from hundreds of entries. She and three finalists were flown to Los Angeles to compete against each other and the clock in a 60-minute grill-off. Jeannette had to create a healthy portion-sized small plate dish that incorporated at least one DOLE product and up to seven more ingredients. She and her sous chef, Los Angeles food blogger Erika Kerekes, used a gas grill to prep, cook, and plate the dish. At the end of the hour, her recipe was tasted by the judges and chosen as the winner for its creativity, flavor, and use of DOLE products.
You might have expected Jeannette to man the grill with a shaky hand, what with the celebrity chef leading the panel and thousands of people watching, but she handled the situation with grace. She says, “I’ve cooked in front of people before so I wasn’t really that nervous. I’ve learned to block people out and just get done.”
This isn’t the first cooking contest she has won either. She estimates she has earned approximately $8,000 in winnings to date, and she plans to keep on winning. “I’m a competitor,” she says. “I like to enter contests and the DOLE California Cook-Off was on my bucket list. Cooking used to be a hobby. Now I look at it as more of a job—a job that I love.”
Jeanette Nelson’s Taste of Dole Island Pork Sliders with Pineapple Jicama Salsa
1 (20-ounce) can Dole Pineapple Tidbits
¾ cup mayonnaise with olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced, divided
¾ cup Dole Mango Chunks, thawed
2 teaspoons roasted ground ginger
Coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup jicama, julienned
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro, divided
2 pounds lean ground pork
1 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ cup Island Teriyaki Sauce
12 Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls
Drain pineapple tidbits. Reserve 3 tablespoons pineapple juice. Combine mayonnaise, ⅓ cup pineapple tidbits, 1 clove garlic, ½ cup mango chunks, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger in food processor container. Cover; blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Finely chop remaining pineapple tidbits and mangos; set aside. Stir together 1 cup pineapple tidbits, jicama, and ½ cup cilantro in medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Combine pork, reserved pineapple juice, ¼ cup pineapple tidbits, remaining mango, roasted ground cumin, red pepper flakes, ¼ cup Island Teriyaki Sauce, 1½ teaspoons coarse sea salt, remaining garlic, remaining ginger and remaining cilantro until just mixed. Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions and, using your hands, shape into patties about 3½ inches wide. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the rack, cover, and cook, turning once, until pork is fully cooked, 3 to 5 minutes on each side. During the last few minutes of cooking, baste the patties equally with the remaining island Teriyaki sauce and place the buns, cut side down, on the outer edges of the rack to toast lightly.
To assemble the sliders, spread the cut sides of the buns with equal portions of the ginger pineapple mango mayo. On each bun bottom, place a patty and equal portions of the pineapple jicama salsa. Add the bun tops and serve.
Yield: 12 sliders
Prep time: 30 minutes
Grilling time: 10 minutes