Tasting 12 different home-cooked dishes? For a good cause? Yes, please – anytime! I’ve never felt so fortunate to be a) opinionated, b) decisive, and c) have no food allergies, dietary restrictions, or food prejudices!
The Holy Smokes Cook-Off is organized by Catherine Ballance and Executive Director Susan Lythgoe in addition to multiple volunteers, campus chapters, churches, and teams as a benefit for Flatirons Habitat for Humanity and families across the Front Range in need of affordable quality housing.
As we learned at the 1st Annual Laughing Lemon Pie Chocolate Cake-off, perspective is everything – what tastes “good” or you think you “like” can change a lot when put head to head against something else or against several others of its kind. When you make one cake, pie, or dish it’s pretty great and you’re usually pretty pleased with the result. But stacking them against anything else? Well…then you have a cook-off!
Holy Smokes featured 12 teams vying for 3 honors – the award for Top Chef/Team based on best tasting dish, the Healthy & Delicious category, and People’s Choice based on dollar votes and most dollars collected. There was a range of items for the crowd (and myself) to taste – a couple different mac & cheese interpretations, a healthy sloppy-joe, pumpkin bread and pie, a Holy Roller (scrambled eggs stuffed into a sausage football and then woven with bacon slices – what?!), a muy muy interesante Cuban Beef Picadillo, vegan Sofritas Taco Bites, Holy Mole Chili, a Mexican chicken soup, and a Chile Verde and a Green Chili neck and neck for the top spot.
Coloradans can appreciate that on the face of it Chile Verde might seem synonymous with Green Chili, but oh the luscious differences. It took many many bites to parse out which tasted best – in the end it was “The Incredible Hulk” Green Chile made by Pasha Ripley for United Church of Broomfield that won the Top Chef/Team honor. We are lucky enough to reprint the recipe here, it has a lengthy list of ingredients – but that really showed in the depth of flavor. “The Incredible Hulk” was a standout combination of sweet and heat – the flavor held up over time, complex enough to be interesting all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. It is something you could eat a lot of, and be very glad you did.