Tag Archives: Jimmy’s No. 43

Pig Island 2017 and Jimmy’s No. 43

Pig Island check-in

Pig Island 2017

Yesterday, the 8th annual Pig Island was held in Erie Basin Park in Brooklyn.  This pork-centric celebration featured regionally-raised hogs from Flying Pigs Farm as well as beers from Sixpoint Brewery, cider, and spirits from several area distillers, including New York Distilling Company.  What’s always so nice about going to this gathering each year is that the chefs are just as excited to be there demonstrating their use of the whole pigs as are the consumers of them.

Pig on the Smoker

Pig on a Grill

With a light breeze and clear, blue sunny skies, it’s almost as the spectacular end-of-summer weather was created especially just for this day.  Last year, I assisted one of the chefs with serving food the day of the event, but this year, I was on the other side of the table as an attendee, which meant I was able to get to eat quite a few of the pig-oriented dishes.

Ovelia

 Ovelia‘s grilled pork

Several of the restaurants have been cooking for this event for several years.  One returnee is Ovelia, from Queens, with their skewers of juicy, tender, marinated pork.  Watching these cook over the open coals, which give it a deep, smoky flavor, it’s no wonder that each year they have one of the longest lines for tastes of this dish.

David NavarroDavid Navarro of Jimmy’s No. 43

David Navarro, one of the chefs at Jimmy’s No. 43, and another veteran of this event, chose to go the whole roasted hog route.  He used a blend of Mexican spices and cooked the skin to a dark, lacquered crust.  Folks gathered around eagerly waiting for it to come off of the grill.

Arrogant Swine

Taco by Arrogant Swine

This festival usually has several taco offerings to showcase the hogs, and this year was no exception.  The taco from Arrogant Swine featured tender, delicate chunks of pork, pulled straight off of the smoker.  The green chile sauce packed a punch of heat that balanced the sweetness of the meat, with a crunchy counterpoint from the fried onions and coolness from the mint.

Smoke Show BBQ

Slider from Smoke Show BBQ

The folks at Smoke Show BBQ also cooked their pig in the North Carolina style.  They served hunks of it on Martin’s potato rolls with a schmear of pimento cheese and a mound of slaw.  It wasn’t exactly a traditional NC pulled pork slider, but it was delicious nonetheless and was also another stand-out of the day.

Jakes Handcrafted

 Sausage by Jake’s Handcrafted

Jake’s Handcrafted brought their hand-made sausage cooked on the plancha, serving it with Asian-flavored stir-fried vegetables.  These coils of meat, gorgeously seared, were one of the first plates that guests had a chance to try when they arrived at the event, kicking it off to a meaty, smoky start.

Insa

Insa‘s Korean-inspired pork bun 

Korean-marinated pulled pork in a Chinese-style flatbread topped with a sesame-chile sauce, and finished with your choice of pickled vegetables, this was the perfect blend of sweet, heat, spice, and acid.  This was put together by another restaurant making a return trip this year, Insa, from the folks at The Good Fork, who have also been at this event in the past.  This was probably one of the bites that I enjoyed the most this year from the savory group.  The bread was soft and crisp and cradled all the meat and the juices together, and it was the one item for which I went back for seconds.

BBDs

BBD’s Korean BBQ Fries

A few other restaurants also tapped into a Korean-ish theme this year, including BBD’s from Long Island.  They brought their Korean BBQ Fries, loaded up with pork and egg and the tangy-spicy crunch of kimchi.  Perfect bar food and great for an event like this one.

Belly Korean Bacon Shop

BELLY Korean Bacon Shop

With a name like BELLY Korean Bacon Shop, it’s as though these chefs and this event were made for each other.  The line for this hand-torched, thinly-sliced pork bell over sushi rice was consistently long throughout the day, with many folks going back a few times.  They also brought slabs of home-made bacon to keep the crowds patient while they put together the each batch.

Butter

A Piggy Tail by Butter

Butter Chef de Cuisine, Michael Jenkins, and his team put in their eighth appearance at the event, and it’s always a treat to see what they will bring for folks to try.  Along with the pork and plum pizza that they were firing up on the grill, they used several parts of the pig to make a Piggy Tail.  The dough and caramel contained pork fat, bacon was tossed to coat the dough-knot, along with hazelnut praline and chocolate cookie crumble.  I would have gone back for another one, but I didn’t, you know, want to make a pig of myself.

Clay Gordon

Chocolate-dipped Sausage with Bacon by Clay Gordon

Chocolate-covered sausage with bacon?  That was another one of the dessert options at this event.  Sounds a bit odd, but when you mix the chocolate with bacon fat and beer, it’s sort of like ganache or really rich chocolate sauce.  Sweet, salty, fatty, chocolately all in one, rounded out with a crispy, buttery cracker.

Roni-Sue

BaCorn by Roni-Sue

For those, like me, who are popcorn fans, Roni-Sue’s BaCorn is a favorite snack.  Chunks of bacon, caramel, mixed into popcorn.  It was a great treat to have in this setting and paired well with whiskey, as I found out by chance.

Catskill Food Company(1)

Catskill Food Company

After grazing at the different stands, having a beer or a couple, maybe even after a shot or two, folks hung out in the grass, kids running around, listened to the band and generally just took in the beauty of a late summer day.   It’s really more like a large block party celebrating the bounty that the pig brings us.  The laid-back vibe is what makes this more than just another food event and brings people back to it year after year.

Jimmy's No 43

Thank you so much to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 for giving me the chance to attend this event.  As some of you may have read on Gothamist, Jimmy’s No. 43, a hub of the craft beer and local food movements in NYC, has temporarily ceased operation.

Pig Island 2014

Pig Island 2014 signagePig Island 2014

For the second year in a row, chefs, pig dishes in hand, and the folks who love to indulge in porcine goodness gathered in Red Hook, Brooklyn at Erie Basin Park for the fifth annual Pig Island festival organized by Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43.  As in past years, this event featured hogs raised by upstate farmers, local wine, cider, and craft beer, and a lot of creativity, showcasing the range of culinary creations that can come from using the whole animal.  Fortunately, as well, even though there had been an early threat of thunderstorms, the inclement weather held off until the very end of the day.

Butter - adding grate to grillButter – putting the grate onto the hot grill

This year, I felt that there was definitely a broader range of dishes and concepts for using the pigs than has perhaps happened in previous years.  The tortilla seemed to be the vehicle of choice for delivering pork products to hungry mouths, whereas, last year, more bites seemed to be on sliders or bread.  There were so many incredible offerings that it is difficult to select just a few stand-out items.  There was an esteemed panel of judges that had that heavy responsibility, so I can just talk from the point of view of my own tastebuds here.

Hecho en Dumbo - Sample PlateHecho en Dumbo – sample platter

Taking home the award for “Fearless Stomachs Only,” Chef Danny Mena of Hecho en Dumbo created Volcanes de Chorizo Casero.  Two different versions of pork meats topped with tomatillo salsa: a red Mexican sausage called Longaniza and a green chorizo, where the herbs were blanched and then mixed in with the meat.  The small square item at the top of the picture is a version of chicharrones made in Mexico where some of the meat is still left connected to the skin, and then they are fried together, creating a crispy, puffed, pork fritter-like morsel.  I could have eaten plates and plates of these offerings, the flavors blended so well together, fatty meat, creamy cheese, hearty tortilla, and spice and acidity that just cut through all of that to bring the dish together.  I’m only sorry that I didn’t get a chance to swing by at the end of the event to pack up any leftovers that they might have had.

Jesse Jones - Pulled Pork StrudelJesse Jones – Pulled Pork Strudel with BBQ Sauce and Pickled Cucumber

Another memorable dish that I ate on Saturday was this inspired creation by Chef Jesse Jones.  For a spin on the usual pulled pork sandwich with slaw or other vinegar-based toppings, he built a strudel using slow-cooked pork.  The rounds were heated up on the grill and served with a barbecue sauce from Fairway, his event sponsor, and dressed with lightly pickled cucumbers, which were still crunchy enough to provide a nice textural balance to the succulent meat and pastry.  This is the kind of plate that makes me want to come back to Pig Island year after year because chefs just go for whatever they think might work to celebrate the hog, and sometimes it just comes together beautifully.

Revolving Dansk - Copenhagen Street Dog w Salty LadkrisRevolving Dansk – Copenhagen Street Dog

A newcomer to this food festival, Revolving Dansk went for a more traditional-with-a-spin for one of their dishes.  Taking their cue from the Danish hot dog wagon (pølsevogn), which they mention is virtually the only street meat in that country, they served up the Copenhagen Street Dog complete with a tangy remoulade, crisp locally-made Scandinavian pickles, crunchy onions, and a drizzle of a Danish salty licorice sauce, upon request.  It might sound like an unorthodox combination, but it worked.  I’m not a huge hotdog fan, and I would have gone back for seconds on these.  The hotdogs themselves were served on rolls made by Brooklyn bakery Leske’s.

Ends Meat - Pork NuggetEnds Meat – Pork Nugget

Those three plates were my favorites of the day.  For a complete list of the participating chefs, visit the Pig Island website. Here’s what the judges decided were their best dishes:

Fearless Stomachs OnlyHecho en Dumbo‘s Volcanes de Chorizo Casero

Best Nasty Bits – Ends Meat’s Pork Nuggets

Best Naked MeatOvelia‘s Spit-roasted Pork

Most RefreshingFlinders Lane‘s Pork Salad

Most MayanJimmy’s No. 43‘s Cochinita Pibel

Best Scrapple from the Apple Egg‘s Scrapple Taco

Best on BunsPig Guy NYC‘s Pork Sliders with Lime Chimichurri

Best Sweet CheeksButter‘s Bacon Banana Bread with Caramelized Bacon

Best to the TableThe Good Fork / Fort Defiances‘s Mer-Pig (read more about how they made it here)

Most Succulent SauceHometown BBQ and Balthazar‘s Tasso Pork Belly Taco

Pig Island - watermelonPig Island 2014

There were lots of great dishes filled with various versions of pork and pig bits, so it wasn’t easy to narrow down the best things I ate to just three items, as many of them were really quite delicious so it feels a bit like splitting (hog) hairs.  All the chefs and their teams worked in blazing hot conditions under bright sunny skies, behind smoky grills, to bring us yet another terrific event.  When I got on the bus to head back over to the subway, I overheard one volunteer say to a friend, “I smell like barbecue and pork.”  His companion chuckled, “As you should!”

Buon appetito!

A big “thank you” to Jimmy Carbone of Jimmy’s No. 43 and creator of Food Karma Projects for inviting me to participate in this event and to cover it this year for him.  The food opinions stated here are my own.

Farmers Market Dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43 with Chef Annette Tomei

Chef Annette shopping at Union SquareChef Annette Tomei picking out vegetables

More than a few times folks have told me that they get a bit stumped when trying to figure out what to make with the produce that is on display at the local farmers market.  They ask me for helpful hints as to how to navigate the stands, advice on what to buy when, and how I come up with things to make using what I purchase.  On Wednesday of this past week, a handful of guests assembled for a dinner at Jimmy’s No. 43 featuring Chef Annette Tomei where she which did just that: pulled together a 3-course dinner based upon ingredients gathered from the Union Square Greenmarket, complete with beverage pairings.  We did the shopping for the meal the morning of the event, schlepped the bags of food back to the restaurant, and then got to work fixing the dishes, with me as her sous chef for the evening.  Chef Tomei made several menu adjustments along the way and even tweaked plans for what we were going to make while we were at the market, having looked around at what everyone was selling that day.

Bowl of ramp butter popcornRamp Butter Popcorn

The evening started out with a platter crostini of farmers cheese from Ronnybrook Farm topped with a ragout of local oyster and cremini mushrooms and topped with sautéed fiddlehead ferns.  I also whipped up a batch of the Ramp Butter Popcorn I mentioned that I’d been making at the restaurant to serve as well.  To go along with this, the guests were served a glass of Foggy Ridge sparkling cider.  The high acidity of the cider was a great balance to the butteriness of the popcorn and the richness of the crostini.

Salad - Asparagus with Sorrel SauceSalad of Asparagus with Sorrel “Pesto” and Shungiku

For the second course, some of those asparagus that Chef Tomei is holding in the first photo were sliced thinly and turned into a light, crispy salad.  The asparagus were trimmed and served raw, no cooking involved.  They were super fresh and crunchy, needing just a drizzle of a fruity extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  On top of them are shungiku, edible micro chrysanthemum greens from Windfall Farms.  To go along with the asparagus, we had made a sorrel “pesto,” giving the salad a lemony lift.  To drink with it, we poured Barrier Saisoff Saison, which played well with the greenness of the vegetables as well as the citrus notes in the herb. 

Main - Duck Breast with Ramp Greens, RhubarbSeared Hudson Valley Duck Breast with Rhubarb Gastrique and Candied Rhubarb on a bed of 5-Spice Braised Red Cabbage with Roasted Parsnip garnished with Ramp Greens

The centerpiece of the main course was the gorgeous, seared duck breast from the folks at Hudson Valley Duck Farm, who also supply the duck that is on the regular menu for the restaurant.  To showcase this high-quality protein, Chef Tomei created a sweet-tart rhubarb gastric and then candied small cubes of the rhubarb that we had picked up at the market.  Thinly-sliced cabbage and chunks of roasted parsnip, which was also still available at the market, were seasoned with a mock Chinese 5-spice mixture to lend an additional layer of flavor to the dish.  A deep caramel-colored Proletariat Other Half Stillwater Collaboration Dark Amber was our choice to go along with the duck and this complex combination of tastes.  

Dessert - Maple Pain Perdu with Maple FluffSourdough Pain Perdue with Grade B Maple Syrup, Grated Maple Sugar,Maple Candy Floss, and Nasturtiums

While perusing the stands at the market, we’d had a few ideas about what to fix for dessert.  Apples still seem to be plentiful right now.  No berries or other early summer fruit has yet to appear.  Passing by Roxbury Mountain Maple‘s stand and seeing a bunch of people trying their maple cream spread and their maple cotton candy gave Chef Tomei an idea for a sweet finish to the evening.  We picked up some of that same cotton candy, a bottle of maple syrup, and a block of maple sugar.  At another nearby stand, we added a loaf of sourdough bread to our purchases in order to make a batch of Pain Perdue, or fancy French toast, for the final course.  Aside from the appetizer course, this was probably my favorite of the parings that we did that evening.  Carton Brewing Company’s “BDG” Brunch. Dinner. Grub. was the ideal match for the sweet, buttery, toffee layers in the dish and the perfect note on which to wrap up this Farmers Market Dinner.

Buon appetito!

Jimmy’s No. 43 at FSNYC ChiliFest 2014

Chilifest 2014 mugOfficial NYChiliFest 2014 Mug

One of the things that I enjoy the most about moving to the other side of the culinary events table, from merely writing about them to participating in them, is that I get to work with some amazing chefs and to have tons of fun doing so.  This weekend, I was part of the team that took part in the Food Systems Network NYC‘s annual chili cook-off.  We created the entry for Jimmy’s No. 43 for ChiliFest 2014, a beef, pork, and black bean chili that we topped with a cilantro lime crema, fried scallions, and a bit of pickled hot peppers.  Here’s an abbreviated look at how it all came together, from picking up our donated meat to the end of the event:

Picking up the beef from DicksonsPicking up the beef from Jake Dickson of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats

Dickson’s Farmstand Meats was a partner and sponsor of this event.  Chef Annette Tomei and I stopped by their store in Chelsea Market last Monday during a food shopping trip and picked up the dry-aged beef that each of the cook-off participants had to use in their dishes.

AD warming up to cookAngela trying to warm up

When we got to Jimmy’s No. 43 on Sunday morning, still a bit on the early side, it was quiet, dark, and quite chilly inside. Angela Dimino, a former instructor of mine from the International Culinary Center, with whom I’d worked on the NYCWFF Burger Bash last fall, had joined Annette and me to try to create a winning chili recipe.

Getting set up to cook chiliGetting set up to cook chili

After turning on the burners, oven, and flattop to try to get some heat going in the kitchen, we pulled all the meat out of the walk-in refrigerators and started assembling all the groceries that we’d bought for this event so that we could get the chili-making started.

Beef being placed in oven to cookBeef getting put in the oven

After a brief strategy meeting, we each went into motion, picking up our selected tasks to get the chili components cooking.  Black beans were rinsed and put on the stove to cook.  Beef was taken out of the Cryovac bags and put into hotel pans to cook in the ovens.  The same was done with the pork that we’d bought at the East Village Meat Market around the corner, keeping with our local-ingredients theme.

Cooked beef and porkMixed beef and pork

Once the beef and pork were cooked, they were mixed together and set aside until ready to combine with the other ingredients.

Selection of chilisSelection of chilis

The various peppers that were chosen to make the mystery blend were opened up and re-hydrated.  They had varying degrees of heat and sweet with along with other flavor notes, which would help to make the final dish have layers of tastes.

Chilis mixed togetherMixture of chilis

Then, Angela puréed each set of peppers individually.  She and Annette put their heads together to create the exact flavor profile they wanted the final dish to have, adding ladlefuls of the chilis in various combinations.  I stood by lending my tastebuds to the process, as well.

Tomatoes, onion cookingTomatoes and onions cooking

To add some moisture to the chili, we put a bunch of onions (that I had the pleasure of chopping into fine pieces) on the heat to soften. We poured in a can of tomatoes and let the mixture simmer for a bit to concentrate the flavors before adding the chilis so that they all melded into one rich, incredible-tasting sauce.

The JImmy's No. 43 Chilifest TeamThe Jimmy’s No. 43 2014 Chilifest team

Then, the real fun began, as all the chili components that had been prepared separately were mixed together to create the final blended dish.  With Angela’s cousin, Cristina Lemos joining us, the chili crew was complete.

Mixing chili togetherMixing chili together

To get just the right mix, the beef, pork, beans, tomatoes, onions, and peppers were all divided into two bus tubs and blended by hand.  Then, it was allowed to sit for a few minutes, while we tasted it, debated the seasoning, tasted it some more, and then decided on our next steps.  We thought that it might need a bit more cooking time to concentrate the flavors, so the chili was returned to a pan on the stove.

The final batch of chiliThe final batch of chili

Here’s the hotel pan full of chili, just before we packed it up to head over to Chelsea Market.  Even now, a few days later, it looks so delicious I could just dive right into it.

Packed up & ready to goPacked up and ready to go

After a bit of deliberation, we decided that we’d pack up all the chili into gallon-sized resealable plastic bags, double-bag them, and then pack them into the bus tubs to transport them over to the event.  Alexis and Cameron from Jimmy’s staff were also coming with us, so we had plenty of hands available to cart everything over there.

Load-in signLoading in at Chelsea Market

We all crammed into the SUV to make the trip to Chelsea Market.  Once there, we entered via a side doorway marked for the chef teams to load-in.

Load-in entranceLoad-in entrance

While that last comment might have made it seem as though we had some specially-decorated doorway to great our way to the chilifest, in reality, this is how we went into the event.  It was a really good thing that we’d packed up everything into as few containers as possible to make it up the stairs and around the garbage skips to the entranceway.

Getting to the tableFinding our table

We checked in with the organizers and then made our way to the table marked for Jimmy’s No. 43.  Chelsea Market was eerily quiet with just a low hum of all the chef and their teams getting set up, the organizers making sure we had our own chili tasting mugs and beer cups, and that we knew how the judging would happen.

Jimmy's No 43 tableJimmy’s No. 43 table

As soon as we found our table, we started arranging everything to set up our station.  Cristina created a display of ingredients that we had used in our chili to brighten up the table and to make sure our People’s Choice coin box was in clear view for the attendees.

Loading the chafers with chiliPouring chili into the chafing dishes

Angela started breaking open the bags of chili to get it set up in the chafing dishes.  The event organizers had set us up with chafers, hotel pans, and sterno to keep everything nice and hot.

Table setupTable all set up

With the chili loaded into the chafers, the decorations all displayed, and all of the toppings for the chili portioned into serving bowls, we were ready to great our first guests.  There’s this odd calm that takes hold before the storm at these events, a few moments to pause.

Chilifest 2014 tasting mapChiliFest 2014 tasting map

It’s quiet except for some last-minute banging around, you and your fellow chefs joke around a bit, take a stroll around to see the other tables and find your friends who are also working the event.  Maybe you grab a beverage or head to the restroom one last time.  Then, the first folks arrive, and it is pretty much just a whirlwind from there until the last plate is served or you run out of food, whichever happens first.

Serving up chiliServing up chili

I’m not sure how many portions of chili we served up in the end.  We cleaned out at least two hotel pans and then started in on a third.  In the middle of the event, we had to swap out the pans midstream and heat up another couple of bags of the chili.  Fortunately, we have a crack food events team, so we could nimbly switch gears to keep the flow of service going while a couple of us handled the chili re-filling duties.  It was great to get lots of thumbs up from the attendees who enjoyed our dish and to see people come back for seconds.

Chili cups on the tableEmpty chili cups

After the chili tasting portion of the event was over, we all headed over to hear the judges’ decision.  Our team didn’t take home any trophies on Sunday night, but we had a fantastic time, hanging out in the kitchen all day, chatting, swapping cooking stories, and laughing lots as we pulled together our dish.  It had been quite a while since this group had cooked together, so it was almost like old times.

Serving table at end of eventOur table at the end of the evening

After that, we made our way back to our table, broke down our set up, and loaded out (this time via the public exit) and returned to Jimmy’s No. 43 to drop off the remaining food and to have a drink to celebrate the evening.  Jimmy Carbone was there, at the bar, ready to hear our stories of the event and to thank us heartily for putting together a chili to compete in the event for his place.  We’d left behind some chili to put on the menu this week, so if you head on over there, there might even be some of it left to try.

Buon appetito!

Making Cassoulet at Jimmy’s No. 43

Cassoulet displaySome of the cassoulets we made

As I’d mentioned, last week and weekend, I spent some time in the kitchen at Jimmy’s No. 43 working with guest chef Annette Tomei on making large quantities of cassoulet.  Annette and I have worked on several culinary projects together in the past, so when she called me to ask if I’d be up for helping out on this one, I knew that we’d have a great time banging around the kitchen and that I would have a chance to learn a lot about techniques and execution from her.  I also knew that we’d eat very well.

Annette Tomei garnishing cassouletChef Annette Tomei garnishing dishes at the Cassoulet Cook-off

I’ve kind of always wanted to do a series of photos of what takes place to get ready for these kinds of events, as it is about producing food in very large volume.  I managed to capture some of the process for making the cassoulet while we were working and created this slideshow (click on the “show info” link on the top right for the captions).  We made enough of each type of cassoulet for the Cassoulet & Beer Pairing event on Saturday, the Cassoulet Cook-off on Sunday, and the Cassoulet & Wine Pairing dinner on Monday night.  It’s been a big week for cassoulet!

Buon appetito!

“Jimmy and the Bean Trough: 6th Annual Cassoulet Cookoff at Jimmy’s No. 43” from Edible Manhattan
(Article about my culinary events work at Jimmy’s No. 43 with VinEducation founder Chef Annette Tomei.)

Jimmy’s No. 43 Sixth Annual Cassoulet Cook-off

Cassoulet displayDisplay of Cassoulet at Jimmy’s No. 43

This past Sunday was the Sixth Annual Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43, an event where amateur and professional chefs go knife-to-knife to create one of France’s iconic and heart-warming dishes.  Jimmy had invited me to be a judge for this feast again this year, which I happily accepted to do, and joined Jackie Gordon from The Diva That Ate New York, Margaret Chen from Savory Sweet Living, Nancy Matsumoto, and Amy Zavatto and Ariel Lauren Wilson of Edible Manhattan in tasting and evaluating the various cassoulets.

Judges making their decisionsWorking out the winners

As in past years, the entrants demonstrated numerous variations on the bean-and-meat-stew format.  Six cooks created cassoulets which the attendees walked around and sampled.  Tickets to the event also included one beverage from the bar with which to wash down all that rich, hearty food.  This gathering raised over $2,000 to go to The Greenmarket‘s regional grains initiative.  Here’s a look at the dishes and their cooks:

Gilbert Clerget - bowl of cassouletCassoulet de Castelnaudary by Gilbert Clerget

Gilbert Clerget and his wife Rebecca made the trip north from Washington, DC to contribute their Cassoulet de Castelnaudary to the tastings.  His version, as he explained, reflected more the southwest of France in the Languedoc region.  The dish featured Stachowski Brand Charcuterie from Georgetown, including their Toulouse Sausage made with tarragon.

Patrick Clark - bowl of cassouletPatricia Clark‘s classic-style cassoulet

Studded with velvety, succulent chunks of duck confit, which she made, as well as duck bacon that she also made, pork, beans, and layers of flavors, returning contributor and caterer Patricia Clark‘s dedication to this dish was evident.  She told us that she’d spent the past year researching cassoulet in its many incarnations before coming up with her version, reviewing over 100 recipes for this dish before developing her own rendition.

Nourish Kitchen cassouletCassoulet with Kale by Nourish Kitchen + Table

The team from Nourish Kitchen + Table created a version of cassoulet that had pork butt, proscuitto, and housemade duck confit along with kale to give it a bit of a healthy kick.  They topped their selection with crunchy toasted breadcrumbs with pork cracklings to contrast the creamy beans.

Mighty Quinn's - Burnt Ends and BeansBeans and Burnt Ends by Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

Neighborhood barbecue joint, Mighty Quinn’s chipped in some of their Beans and Burnt Ends.  With its smoky, meaty, porkiness, this is a more American take on the French classic.  As the judges noted in their round-up of the cook-off, this dish is available to try all year around at their store, not just in the cold winter months of peak cassoulet season.

David Navarro - Jimmy's No 43 House CassouletSausage & Beans with Chicharrones by David Navarro

Jimmy’s No. 43 house chef David Navarro contributed a batch of cassoulet with a more Latin twist to it.  He made a batch of Sausage and Beans topped with chicharrones, or crispy fried pork skins, creating a contrast between the hearty beans, smoky meat, and crunchiness of the topping.

American-style cassoulet plateAmerican-style Cassoulet by Annette Tomei

Beer-braised pork shoulder cassoulet plateBeer-braised Pork Shoulder and Beans by Annette Tomei

Plate of Vegetarian CassouletVegetarian Cassoulet by Annette Tomei

[By way of full disclosure, I assisted her with the prep for this and several of the dishes that folks sampled on Sunday.]

Annette Tomei, owner of VinEducation and one of my former instructors at the International Culinary Center, was the featured chef for Jimmy’s No. 43‘s Cassoulet & Beer and Cassoulet & Wine events during the past few days.  She whipped up several different styles of cassoulet for guests to nibble on on Sunday, including an American-style version using pinto beans mixed with shredded confit chicken, braised turkey wings, spicy sausage, and bacon ends topped with a panko-sage crumble, a Beans with Beer-braised Pork Shoulder, and even a Vegetarian Cassoulet with beans mixed in with roasted brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  This latter version was a favorite of several of the attendees.

Jimmy Carbone thanking attendeesJimmy Carbone thanking cooks and guests

After guests had sampled the cassoulets and had taken some time to digest and to decide on their favorites, Jimmy Carbone took to the stage in the back room to thank everyone for coming to this event and to garner a round of applause for all the cooks.  Then, he turned it over to the judges to reveal the results of the cook-off.  Jackie Gordon started off by recognizing the honorable mentions, including Annette Tomei’s “Best Vegetarian Cassoulet for Carnivores” and David Navarro’s “Best Use of Chicharrones in a Cassoulet.”  Then, the prizes were handed out.

Nourish Kitchen - pot of cassouletThird Place Winner: Nourish Kitchen

Patricia Clark - cassoulet displaySecond Place Winner: Patricia Clark

Gilbert & Rebecca ClergetFirst Place Winner: Gilbert Clerget with his wife Patricia

This year’s winner of the Cassoulet Cook-off is Gilbert Clerget with his Cassoulet de Castelnaudary.  It seems fitting that a Frenchman took the crown for 2014.  His cassoulet was also the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the cook-off, so the people and the judges were unanimous in their culinary decisions this year.  Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who cooked for us this Sunday!

Buon appetito!

“Jimmy and the Bean Trough: 6th Annual Cassoulet Cookoff at Jimmy’s No. 43” from Edible Manhattan
(Article about my culinary events work at Jimmy’s No. 43 with VinEducation founder Chef Annette Tomei.)