For the uninitiated, #CltThrowdown (aka #ClThrowdown) was a cooking competition between me, @samanthapotion and @mmahoney13 hosted by @cara.  Each of the cheftestants prepared a dish that reflected their culinary point of view, and judges @wcooksey, @kjannfischer and @kkmaz rendered a verdict.  If you want to know more about the people involved and the rules, you can check out the official program (actually the official program had pictures, but I’m having technical issues so the linked to program does not).

Congratulations to Samantha for her well deserved victory.  Both she and Mike were great competitors.  But I really wanted to win.  Really. Alot.

While I didn’t win, I am still very proud of the food I put before the judges, and wanted to share how it was prepared.


The view from Judge Fischer's chair


I experiment when I cook, and am always looking for new dishes.  The  dish I prepared for #cltthrowdown was created specifically for the throwdown.  It includes both original recipes and variations on the creations of others.  It explored the interplay of sweet and hot.  Looking at the plate, judges started with a red pepper and corn fritter with honey butter.  Next, I prepared a sweet potato hashbrown, deep fried with Anaheim chili peppers and topped with roasted mini-marshmallows.  The third element, lobster poached in vanilla-habanero butter was revealed when the judges lifted the inverted shot glass.  Homemade bread accompanied this element for sopping of the butter.  I closed with a lemon cheesecake with roasted chili peppers.

The Recipes

The corn fritter was a play on a recipe from Paula Deen.  However, prior to adding the corn, I dry roasted it in a frying pan with diced red bell pepper and some crushed red pepper flakes.  (As an aside, that combination also goes very well in quesadillas).  I let the corn/pepper combination cool before adding to the batter.  The fritters were then deep fried and served with honey butter.  The honey butter was just that, honey and butter mashed together the day before and then reformed into butter block and shaved onto the fritter.

Next was an original concoction.  I shredded a sweet potato and mixed it with three Anaheim chili peppers cut into matchsticks.  When I first tried this dish, I couldn’t get the sweet potatoes and peppers to stay together.  So, before deep frying, I mixed some beaten egg and flour in.  Just enough that the hash browns would hold.  These were served with two mini-marshmallows on top, toasted with a kitchen torch.

Perhaps my favorite element was the butter poached lobster.  I begin by clarifying butter.  Next I added a sliced vanilla bean and roughly chopped habanero pepper.  These simmered in the butter for about 20 minutes.  Then I strained off the bean and pepper and returned the butter to the stove.  Add lobster tail cut into small chunks and simmer at between 165 and 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.  It is very helpful to have a gas stove and a food thermometer for measuring the temperature.  That was served with this bread recipe which I found to work best by pouring the dough into a loaf pan and baking for about 35 minutes (until a skewer can be inserted and removed clean from the center)

Finally, dessert.  First I roasted some red chili peppers.  Again, with a gas stove, all you need to do is place the chilies on directly on the burners and turn periodically so that the skin is completely blackened.  Then put them in a zip lock bag for about 20 minutes.  Their steam helps the skin come off.  After peeling the skin and separating the seeds, I mixed the chilies with lemon juice, lemon zest and brown sugar to form a spicy syrup.    This was then beaten into cream cheese.  I presented this desert in a shot glass by first adding crushed graham crackers, then the cream cheese mixture.  Another layer of graham cracker, another layer of cream cheese.  I topped the dessert with brown sugar which was caramelized in creme brulee fashion and then topped the desert with lemon zest.

Thanks again to everyone who made the Throwdown happen.  And if you decide to try one of these elements (or use them as the basis for your own culinary experiments) let me know how they work for you.


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3 Responses to “#CltThrowdown”

  1. Kelli McCallum Says:

    As a judge for #CLTThrowdown, I had the privilege of tasting each one of the above described dishes. They were each fantastic. I loved the sweet potato hashbrowns and the lobster was perfection. I loved the idea of the theme of sweet and spicy and the fact that the recipes were original creations. I bow to your culinary skills Mr. Francis. I guess Keith Wade was wrong, you aren’t all talk!

  2. Mike Mahoney Says:

    Love the throwdown blog and the links to the program etc. I will post my recipe here, hopefully sooner rather than later. Thanks Brian. Mike

  3. Mike Mahoney Says:

    Brian, all of your recipes were wonderful. Just incredible. The lobster and the fried sweet potato hash brown were especially delicious.

    Here is my recipe for anyone who would like it:

    Pasta ala Mahoney
    ¾ lb bacon, sliced into ½” strips
    2 yellow onions sliced thin
    ½ teaspoon dried thyme
    ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or as to your liking
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 lb spaghetti or linguine (1 cup reserved pasta water)
    ½ cup parmesan cheese grated or shredded
    2 Tablespoons chopped Fresh parsley
    ½ teaspoon black pepper
    1) Fry bacon in a large frying pan.
    2) When crisp remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain
    3) Keep about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in pan and discard the rest
    4) Add the sliced onions to the pan with the thyme, red pepper flakes and a ¼ teaspoon of the salt
    5) Cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are brown 10-15 minutes and remove from heat
    6) Reserve one cup of the pasta water before draining the pasta
    7) Drain the pasta,
    8) Combine the pasta with the onions, bacon, parmesan, parsley, remaining salt and ¾ cup of the pasta water
    9) Serve with additional grated cheese on top

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