The Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest – the World Cup of cooking contests – will be held this November 2nd-4th in Nashville, Tennessee, and Cape Ann has a local girl in the race.
An Essex native and front-of-the-house manager at Manchester’s Foreign Affairs restaurant, Laurie Lufkin has been sending Pillsbury entries since 2007, soon after she won her first blue ribbon at the Topsfield Fair. Hundreds of thousands of home cooks submit recipes, (any number is allowed) to “the Dough Boy,” hoping to be selected as one of the 100 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest finalists. This year the finalists will travel from 32 different states, with California sending as many as 17. There are four men and 96 women, ranging in age from 28 to 89. The contest guidelines require at least one Pillsbury ingredient from their eligible list (not all Pillsbury ingredients are eligible), no more than 7 ingredients altogether, and the recipe must take no longer than 30 minutes to prepare.
This year, along with a batch of other recipes, Lufkin submitted this surprisingly simple cemitas recipe, which she developed researching 2014 food trends. Cemitas, traditional street food in Peubla, Mexico, are meat-filled sandwiches served on a special roll that is always sprinkled with sesame seeds; cemitas are hot right now. Baum + Whiteman, International restaurant consultants, list cemitas as one of 2014’s serious buzzwords.
Lufkin’s recipe uses fresh, loose chorizo, divided into portions and remade into patties. The small burgers are cooked in a skillet, then covered with melted Manchego cheese, and served with a quick-pickled slaw. Lufkin created the bun, the special Pillsbury ingredient, using Pillsbury original refrigerated breadstick dough, roping the uncooked dough together, strewing them with fresh cilantro, coiling them into a roll, sprinkling them with Watkins’ (a Bake-Off Contest sponsor) sesame seeds, and baking the buns to golden brown.
In years past, the call to the contest came by telephone; this year it arrived in an email which Lufkin received in one of those classically ordinary moments: she glanced at her phone, while running into Schooner’s Market to buy ice for her mother who has having a reception for state representative Ann Margaret Ferrante.
“I looked at my phone and saw another ‘official Bake-Off’ email; I figured it was another ad. I went into the store, got ice, and looked again when I got back in the car; it was a good thing I was sitting down!”
I recently watched Lufkin and her niece, Sarah Bethany Williams, affectionately known simply as “Chicka,” prepare this Pillsbury Finalist recipe. Chicka brushed water on the breadstick dough, while everyone in the kitchen tried to calmed Chicka’s worries about starting kindergarten at Essex Elementary School, where both her mother and aunt began their educations. When we all sat down to try the final cemitas, kindergarten fears had dissipated, and Chicka gave her Aunt her first blue-ribbon vote. I give the second vote.
A new twist in this year’s Bake-Off Contest means that – just like American Idol – a percentage of the voting is public. After participants whisk, roll, and crimp their 100 recipes in their 100 little kitchens, judges choose winners in each of 4 categories: Simply Sweet Treats, Savory Snacks and Sides, Weekend Breakfast Wows, and Amazing Doable Dinners. The judges then vote on those four finalists for the final Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner. The judges’ votes account for a percentage of the final vote, but then the voting goes online, and the public chooses their winner out of these four. The judges’ and public votes are added together to decide the winner.
Cape Ann, therefore, has a chance to make this region famous for not just lobsters and fried clams, but for being home to the 2014 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest Winner, who brings home one million dollars, a truck-load of new GE appliances, and a lot of smiles.
Laurie Lufkin’s Pickled & Twisted Spicy Pork Cemitas
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated original breadsticks
36 fresh cilantro leaves plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon Watkins Sesame Seeds
1 cup tri-color coleslaw mix (from 16 ounce bag)
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 pound mild chorizo sausage, casings removed
6 slices (3/4 ounce each) Manchego or Mexican melting cheese (quesadilla)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with Reynolds Parchment Paper.
Unroll dough on work surface; separate into 12 breadsticks. Pinch ends of 2 breadsticks together to make 1 long breadstick. Roll into an 18” rope. Repeat with remaining dough to make 6 (18”) ropes. Lightly brush breadsticks with water.
Place 6 cilantro leaves evenly along each breadstick. Gently twist 2 to 3 times into a 22” rope. Coil each rope into a 3” spiral shape, tucking ends under and pinching to seal. Place 2” apart on a cookie sheet. Brush lightly with water. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake 13-19 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack.
Meanwhile, in small bowl mix coleslaw mix, vinegar, chopped cilantro, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
Shape sausage into 6 (3 1/2”) patties. In 12” skillet, cook patties over medium heat 5-6 minutes, turning twice, until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160 degrees F. Place 1 cheese slice on each patty. Cover; remove from heat.
Drain coleslaw mixture.
Cut each roll in half horizontally. Top bottom half of each roll with 1 patty, 2 rounded tablespoons coleslaw mixture, and top half of roll. Garnish with additional cilantro, if desired.