Pumpkin Pie Throwdown

November 28, 2010

This Thanksgiving, I continued my Throwdown studies with a pumpkin pie challenge. Bobby Flay took on Michele Albano in CT in a pie challenge. Michele made a fresh pumpkin with Maple flavors and pecan Struesel. Bobby used canned pumpkin in his pie and a graham cracker crust, resulting in boos from the crowd. Bobby had a Bourbon Maple whipped cream, while Michele served a maple whipped cream on her pie.

In my kitchen I did use canned pumpkin in both of my pies. (Sorry Michele). The taste test took place at the dinner table and the results were mixed. For me – I really liked the maple whipped cream of Michele’s and the crunchy pecans on top. Her pumpkin filling was very fresh tasting, like a pumpkin pie should taste. Her filling had eggs for a custardy texture, and the crust was ok – nothing special. I liked this pie very much. But then I tasted Bobby’s pie, which was very rich tasting, denser, with more spice flavor. The bourbon whipped cream was a little strong and the streusel topping was a nice touch of texture, with more cinnamon and oats. Delicious! But then another bite of Michele’s pulled me back that way…this is a tough decision for certain – I wouldn’t envy the judges this one. FOr me it took 2 more days of eating these pies (it was a holiday after all and we had to finish the leftovers) I have still not truly decided.

I lean towards Bobby for the filling and graham cracker crust – the filling was dark, rich, spicy and wonderful. I am a fan of bourbon, but may have gone a little lighter on the whipped cream to get more of the pumpkin. Michele’s was delicious though, with a fresher more traditional pumpkin pie flavor, and I love the crunch of the pecans on hers as well as the maple whipped cream. So for more tradition – Michele’s pie was the way to go. For dense decadent pumpkin pie – Bobby’s wins hands down.

Michele’s pie can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michele-albanos-maple-pumpkin-pie-with-pecan-streusel-recipe/index.html

Bobby’s pie – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/bobby-flays-pumpkin-pie-with-cinnamon-crunch-and-bourbon-maple-whipped-cream-recipe/index.html


Throwdowns with Bobby Flay

November 21, 2010

I recently purchased the Throwdown! cookbook by Bobby Flay which includes both recipes from each of the throwdown competitiors he has competed in…..as I always wondered about some of the recipes and could not find them online, this cookbook immediately caught my attention. There are stories about each challenge along with the two recipes in competition. So it was decided – there would be a throwdown cookoff of the week in our household!

This week we decided to start with the chili throwdown, as my husband is a huge chili fan. The competition was between Bobby and Cindy Reed-Wilkins of Houston, Texas. As the book points out, Texas chili is made with cubes of chuck and it is all about the meat and gravy – no ground beef or beans here! Bobby used 12 different chilies and bottom round in his chili. Cindy uses beef chuck, serranos, jalepenos and lot’s of chili powder, onion powder and garlic powder in her chili. Bobby covers his for 1 hour. Cindy leaves hers uncovered for 1 hour, adds more spices, 30 mins, then again more spices and another 30 mins of cook time, all uncovered.

What results is a very thick, dense, flavor packed chili from Cindy’s recipe. Dark in color and very intense in flavor with some good heat. Bobby’s is more saucy, sweet with a hint of heat at the end. After eating a bowl of Bobby’s, you can feel the heat in your gut, but not on the tongue – with all those chilis, including jalepeno, serrano, chipotle and habanero, it was surprising to not taste the heat up front. Bobby serves his with a cumin creme fraiche – delicious! A very nice cool compliment to the hot chili….we thought it was good on Cindy’s too – but did not judge her chili with it on.
The verdict in our house was tough – rich intense heat from Cindy’s chili. Smooth subtle creamy heat from Bobby’s. Cindy’s we decided was a little too intense but would be great wrapped in a burrito, with some rice, lettuce, avocado and cheese. Bobby’s was a tad sweet for our taste, and we decided next time to leave out the honey and maple syrup. As the judges in the true throwdown – this was a tough choice. They declared a tie……we struggled, and in the end decided we still like Tyler Florence’s Ancho Beef chili the best. Sorry guys!

Next competition – Pumpkin Pie – one with pecan streusel, one with cinnamon crunch and bourbon whipped cream. Happy Thanksgiving all! Ask yourself- are you ready for a throwdown?

Check out Bobby’s new book at: