Gentlemen, start your ovens!
Brooklyn’s most-competitive home cooks will test their Midwestern mettle at the annual Casserole Crazy cook-off on Oct. 24 at the Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg.
The deep-dished contest, open to both professional chefs and cooks who can barely crack an egg, is a celebration of the humble, comfort food that flyover-country families have been concocting for generations.
But its Brooklyn cousin is more than just a mix of leftover meats, veggies and cheese.
Native Missourian Emily Farris launched the bake-off in the back room of the Brooklyn Kitchen’s Lorimer Street shop seven years ago, putting her on the cutting edge of the burgeoning competitive food scene that has turned every home cook from Greenpoint to Gravesend into a battle-hardened veteran.
So don’t just whip up your grandmother’s tuna noodle casserole recipe — with canned tuna and cream of chicken soup — and expect to win. At the very least, add some salt!
“Winning cookoffs is 50 percent execution and 50 percent proper seasoning — no one is going to win with a bland dish,” said cookoff king Nick Suarez, whose duck confit casserole won first prize in 2009. “Taste and season every item at every stage of the cooking process andask yourself if you dish is balanced with enough salt, sweetness, acidity, and oil.”
Suarez also advises home cooks to use a cast-iron Dutch oven, which keeps the dish warmer longer, a good trick considering that participants are not allowed to reheat their dishes this year.
Bottom line? Make sure the flavor — and, indeed, the dish itself — is balanced.
“It has to hold together and be a single thing — if you have something like duck, chicken or pork it should be evenly distributed,” said Brooklyn Kitchen’s Harry Rosenbloom, a former Casserole Crazy judge. “It’s not like you’re eating stuff off a plate where you get one bite of each thing, instead you get everything in one bite.”
Casserole Crazy at the Brooklyn Kitchen [100 Frost St. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 389-2982], Oct. 24, 7 pm. For info, www.casserolecrazy.com.