Supper Punch!!! (Week 3)

Even though Catrow and his sliders-and-fries special move put up quite the fight there for a while, Carnam and her homage to Legend’s Belgian White walked away with a solid victory last week. You go, girl! Now on to week 3…

Voting for week 3 of Supper Punch!!! is now closed. Our winner was… Jennifer Carnam! Again! Congratulations to Jennifer and thanks to everyone who voted. Tune in Wednesday for week 4. It’s gonna be great.

Even though Catrow and his sliders-and-fries special move put up quite the fight there for a while, Carnam and her homage to Legend’s Belgian White walked away with a solid victory last week. You go, girl! Now on to week 3…

For those of you new to Supper Punch, here’s how it works:

Each week, for local food enthusiast submit two photos and a brief commentary (including helpful tips and prep time) on a recently-completed dish of their choosing. You, our readers, will then declare a winner for the week by voting in the comments. Your vote can be based on whatever you like: creativity, good use of local products, what you want to put in your belly at that exact moment, whatever.

Our competitors:
Sarah Bonkovsky, tireless contributor to Fan of the Fan and a gluten-free mother of three who loves to eat food from her own and nearby gardens. She also describes herself as “slightly lazy, distracted, and messy in the kitchen.” Don’t let her self-deprecating tone fool you — she can BRING IT.

Jennifer Carnam, Vice President of Marketing for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau (RMCVB) with 30+ years of experience. She’s a California native, a Boston Red Sox fan (by marriage), wife to Allyn, mother to Lex, and step-mother to Lincoln and Todd. She is also the most fun.

Ross Catrow, co-founder of local web design firm PharrOut, lover of beer, butter, and his family. He’s perhaps best-known as the master and commander of the good ship RVANews. Occasionally he takes a picture or two (you can see documentation of his Supper Punch candidates here).

Nick Dawson who recalls early memories of watching PBS cooking shows while home sick from school. By day he works in hospital administration, focusing on improving on the patient experience; by night he is a fan of all things porcine, a curer of meats, a producer of pickles, and a lover of simple foods done very well. He describes himself as “passionate about local, sustainable foods and their producers.”

Our current standings are:
Bonkovsky: 0
Carnam: 1 (winning week 2)
Catrow: 0
Dawson: 1 (winning week 1)

Enough dilly-dallying. On to the food!

Bonkovsky: Campanelle Carbonara

As the weather turns (somewhat) cooler, I start going to my comfort foods for dinners. This week I made a family favorite: pasta carbonara. You can use whatever pasta you’d like, but this time I tried campanelle, which means “little bells”. I thought it was a pretty shape and capable of holding all the tasty sauce.

My recipe has changed a bit over the years and now I have combined what I think are the best elements of Jamie Oliver’s and my mother-in-law’s recipes. Jamie uses cream instead of milk and egg yolks instead of whole eggs. My mother-in-law pours some white wine in the pan with the onion and bacon to de-glaze it and add a little more depth to the rich, creamy sauce. Drink a big glass of the wine while you’re cooking and after a while you won’t even hear the kids.

Gluten-free note: reserve a bit of the sauce and meat to pour over another type of pasta. A GFF’s (Gluten-Free Friend’s) recommendation: quinoa pasta. It’s tasty.

Time spent
Less than 30 minutes

Carnam: Prosciutto di Parma Wrapped Mission Figs on Rosemary Skewers, Petit Filet Mignon, Herb Roasted Potatoes, and Asparagus with Sauce Maltaise

This week’s meal was a command performance for my friend Linda, who was celebrating her birthday. Linda requested steak, potatoes and asparagus. I chose filet mignon, which is one of the leanest cuts, in portions of about 2.5 – 3 oz each.

Linda and I took an unforgettable trip to Paris last April, so I felt it was only apropos to let Julia Child guide me in cooking the asparagus using the French method. After peeling the large spears, I tied them in a bundle with kitchen twine and dropped them in a pot of boiling salted water. While the spears were boiling, I whisked together egg yolks, butter, Meyer lemon juice, fresh orange juice and some grated orange rind to make the Sauce Maltaise, a lemony-orangey twist on the traditional Sauce Hollandaise.

For the appetizer course, I grilled fresh Mission fig halves wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma on fresh, deck-grown rosemary skewers. I tossed the remaining rosemary stripped from the skewer sprigs along with fresh chopped parsley (also from the deck) with the baby Yukon Gold potatoes and some extra virgin olive oil and roasted them at 350 for about 30 minutes.

While my husband worked his grillmaster magic on the filets, Linda and I opened my last bottle of one of the best wines I’ve ever experienced: a 2006 Twelve “Uh Huh” Pinot Noir from the Yamhill-Carlton district in Oregon. The folks at Twelve made only 98 cases of this wine, which is no longer available. Sharing a sui generis wine with a truly special friend on her birthday made for a delightful evening.

Time spent
About 45 minutes

Catrow: Trio of Grilled Things

So, as is my sad sad tradition, each year I travel somewhere with my good pals, drink copious amounts of alcohol, eat amazing food, and watch the Hokies lose heartbreaking football games. Woo fun!

The past couple years I’ve upped the complexity of what I cook on my portable tailgating grill (which is totally awesome). This year, at least for the opener, I thought I would GO BACK TO MY ROOTS and do something a little more straight forward.

We’ve got a trio of grilled things. First, we did corn. The key — in my opinion — to excellent corn on the cob is threefold: 1) butter 2) salt 3) smoked Spanish paprika. THIS ISN’T YOUR DADDY’S PAPRIKA. Especially if you are grilling the corn in the husks, like we did, the smokiness of the paprika really punches your face off. Plus loads of butter never hurt anything.

Second (and I made this up on the spot because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand at our tailgate) bacon-wrapped, cheese-stuffed, pickled jalapenos. The jalapenos are from a batch that I pickled using a salt-water brine (hat tip to my co-competitor Nick) that have the weirdest, but most pleasant, smokey taste. Sometimes you hit on a flavor combination that just works, and this is one of those. Smokey, spicy, sharp cheese, BACON. COME ON!

Third, and best of all, the hot dogs. These hot dogs come from, of course, Belmont Butchery — most likely springing forth from the very mind of the Sausage King of Richmond. These will erase and replace your definition of a hot dog. I can’t even explain it to you. Go down there right now and buy them. Sure they may cost more than your average ‘dog BUT IT’S WORTH IT FOR STARING INTO THE FACE OF GOD. No, but seriously, they are pretty good.

Time spent
3 to 4 beers

Dawson: French Farmer’s Lunch

Every once in a while we go all out and spend a few hours making what I call a “french farmer’s lunch”. Bear in mind that I have no practical experience or expertise to know what a French farmer eats for lunch. However, I like to suppose that it is at once hearty and gourmet. The genesis of the idea came from Richmond’s guru of brew, Mekong’s An Bui. We were talking about Dogfish Head’s collaborative brew, Saison du Buff which is a grassy, herby, ale made with paisley, sage and rosemary – clearly a beer that calls for some serious food.

I’ve got a generous neighbor, Travis, who had just gotten back from a dove hunt and shared several pounds of amazing dove breasts. So, looking towards the long weekend I set about to make a paté de campagne with inlayed dove breasts. For the pate, I used some pork from Edmonds Farm, a farm I usually use for bison. Pork shoulder was ground with just a little bit of pork liver, garlic, onions, salt and spices. It was a pungently herbaceous mix that I augmented with a small dice of home pickled carrots. The first half of the raw pate made a bed for the squab breasts and the rest was gently pressed over the top. The whole thing cooked in 300 degree oven in a water bath for almost two hours.

To complete the “farmer’s lunch,” I dropped a few eggs into the sous vide bath. There they sat, in their shell, at 147F for several hours. The result is something we call a custard egg. Eggs done this way are nothing short of sublime. The whites take on a fluffy, custard like texture while the yolks firm up nicely. They are almost the opposite of a poached egg. The custard eggs sat atop a salad of local greens, vinaigrette and some lardons of home cured bacon.

The pate was accompanied by crusty bread, home made pickles and some whole grain mustard.

If I could have done anything different it would have been to find some frisee greens, which would have been more traditional with the salad. They are just so darned hard to come by.

Time spent
3 hours

Ok, readers, now it’s up to you. Leave your vote in the comments and help us decide who has delivered….


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  1. lindsey on said:

    it’s bonkovsky for me. it’s simple and looks great.

  2. Another toss up between Carnam and Bonkovsky. Both look amazing.
    I’m going with Carnam because LOOK AT THOSE FILETS!

  3. Wow, you all certainly eat a lot more complicatededly than I do most of the time. Though Nick used my hometown beer, I have to give my vote to Ross for this one. I love a tailgate grill, his commentary, and am now motivated to walk down to Belmont Butchery (I’ve never been in a butcher shop in my life–the blood, the guts, the horror!), to get some of those hot dogs.

  4. Beth P. on said:

    Custard eggs! Custard eggs! I’m drooling, Nick. DROOLING.

  5. I don’t eat red meat, but man, Carnam’s meal looks tasty!

  6. Catrow for the win. It was Labor Day. Hotdogs and Football! You are all a bunch of freaking pinko commies, especially anybody from Delaware!

  7. this is tough for me. I’ve had the custard egg from Dawson before, and no egg should ever taste that good. I think I’d be most happy if I was eating Carnam’s meal. Prosciutto wrapped figs? Yes, please. My vote is for Carnam and for freedom. Always vote for freedom.

  8. Carnam. You can’t go wrong with a filet and Julia’s asparagus.

  9. Jeremiah on said:

    i’m goin with Mr. Catrow two weeks in a row! grilled corn is one of my faves and the hotdogs from belmont is quite possibly some of the best meat in the UNIVERSE.

    PLUS bacon wrapped anything holds a special place in my heart reserved for cholesterol build up. <3

  10. Carrie on said:

    Catrow. Yay for tailgating food! Just mad now that y’all were so far away in the lots. I *might* have made the hike for that yummy spread! I def need to investigate those hot dogs!

  11. Dawson’s Farmer’s Lunch by a hair. (Gross! There’s a hair in the food!?)

  12. Very close for me, but Dawson wins in my eyes. I’m impressed.

    But Ross is a close second, because I’ve had those hot dogs, and they are supreme. And on the grill? Even better.

  13. Elizabeth M on said:

    Wow. Tough competition this week, but my vote is Carnam. The asparagus, fresh herbs and figs — and celebratory vino — make this sound delicious! Oh, and the meat looks perfect, too.

  14. Although I’ve had those Dawson-made custard eggs, and it was a religious experience, I love hot dogs and things wrapped in bacon more than Jesus, so my vote goes to Ross.

  15. I love carbonara, but I’m going with Catrow on this one. I love tailgating food to the max.

  16. bonkovsky had me at campanelle. i freaking love that pasta!

  17. Travis on said:

    NIck all the way on this one. Fresh from the field to the fork.

  18. Ross this week. He was able to pull this off from a tailgate using a portable grill. Butter, Bacon, Hotdogs, Beer – sounds like he hit all the major food groups.

  19. Filet and potatoes are my fave and they sure do look awesome!!! Carnam gets my vote yet again!

  20. Hard to pass up any dish with figs accompanies by a great bottle of wine. Gotta give the vote to Carnam. As an aside, I loved the French Farmer’s Lunch, but three hours?!! There’s only one thing I like to spend that much time on.

  21. I appreciate the effort put into a fancy tailgate. A for effort and a vote for Catrow.

  22. Linda Timte on said:

    I am going with Carnam. It was my birthday dinner and it was fantastic!!!!

  23. Guys! I think I forgot to vote last week! I WOULD HAVE VOTED FOR MYSELF.

    But, this week I vote for Bonkovsky — carbonara is just about my favorite food ever. I MEAN BACON, EGGS, AND CHEESE. Just mainline it to my heart plz thx.

  24. My vote is definately for Carnam! This looks fabulous Jennifer – I’m going to have to try this one for sure! I know the wine was “to die for” as well!! What a great b-day dinner for Linda!!! Yum!!

  25. Ryan Smartt on said:

    What a great effin competition. I look forward to this every week.

    Good looking grub this week guys, but my vote goes to the Dawson. Very creative stuff, Nick.

  26. Bonkovsky gets my vote this week. How can you not vote for campanelle?

  27. Carnam – very straight ahead, and delicious looking!

  28. Kristi on said:

    My vote goes to Bonkovsky. Carbonara and white wine — perfect!

  29. I have to go with Carnam… Those potatoes and filet look amazing!

  30. Bettie on said:

    Carnam all the way. I’m drooling! :)

  31. Brooke on said:

    The asparagus and creative Hollandaise sauce combined with Filet…perfection. Carnam please cook me a meal!

  32. Susan Dawson on said:

    Dawson all the way! The pate was amazing as was the custard egg! I can’t even tell you how good the home cured pickles are!

  33. rMy vote goes to Jennifer Carnam. I am not overly fond of steak,but this filet is what I would like and the asparagus definitely is my kind of food.
    Who wouldn’t love a birthday meal like this?

  34. I’m in for Ross again, I mean, only because I ate all that delicious food.

  35. Corey Creehan on said:

    I’ve got to go Catrow on this one. Grill+football = superior to fancy French and Italian cooking. Mostly however cause the sight of a tailgate takes me back all those years to the days of coming to visit you guys in 511, going to see games, and getting bench pressed by you guys when we are up like 49-0 on Rutgers.

  36. Michelle on said:

    Carnam on this one. I am a meat and potatoes girl. Yummy.

  37. Dawson, Dawson, Dawson. Everything looks great, but Dawson made PATE; those custard eggs sound like heaven; and if you were to put a jar of house-made pickles in front of me, you would be like “hey where did those pickles go that I just put in front of you?” In conclusion, I want to be a French farmer and have Dawson pack my ‘petit dejeuner.’

  38. Filets, poratoes, asparagus, grilled figs and a Pinot from Oregon — it doesn’t get any better than that. Carnam scores!

  39. Jennifer on said:

    I love carbonara and haven’t had it in a while, and Bonkovsky’s looks delicious, so my vote goes to her!

  40. Carnam wins! The filets look fantastic and my mother knows my unique obsession with Julia Child stemming from my childhood.

  41. I vote for Catrow! Those dogs rock…

    The carbonara could have been a win…. if the pancetta came from Belmont Butchery!

  42. Katherine on said:

    I’m going Catrow for his ability to cook on the fly and measure time spent in beers.

  43. Catherine on said:

    Bonkovsky. That meal looks like something I could actually make.

  44. Carnam – Prosciutto di Parma! Elegant dish.

  45. Another vote for Jennifer Carnam. You had me at prosciutto!

  46. Tom Campbell on said:

    Definitely Nick. Look how pretty that plate looks!

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