Smothered chicken takes top honors Cook-off: Judges in 1998 Delmarva Chicken Cooking Contest select recipe for its blend of fruit and spices.

June 17, 1998|By Tracy Sahler | Tracy Sahler,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MILLSBORO, DEL. - Baltimore's Dorrie Mednick, a world traveler who prides herself on trying a new twist every time she cooks, came up with an exotic spice blend for home-grown chicken to win the 1998 Delmarva Chicken Cooking Contest here Saturday.

Mednick and her husband, Shimon Mednick, have traveled from Nepal to Paris and Mexico to Morocco, and they will now take a trip to the Caribbean: In addition to $1,000 cash, Mednick won a seven-day, all-expenses-paid Caribbean vacation for two. Judges picked her Smothered Chicken With Gingery Mango Sauce over the other 18 cook-off entries for its refreshing blend of fruit and spices.

"I call cooking my Valium," Mednick said moments after her victory. "When I'm a little distressed, I go in the kitchen and bang a few pots and pans, and that seems to take care of everything."

She had been a finalist in the beef, oyster and chicken cook-offs before, but never brought home the top prize. "I was one of those who got the potato peeler and the cutlery set." She kept entering, she said, because, "I'm always trying something new."

A retired social worker who now serves as a docent at the Walters Art Gallery, Mednick may reign forever as the Delmarva chicken cooking champion. Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., the broiler trade association that has sponsored chicken cooking contests for nearly a half-century to promote chicken use, announced it will drop the event.

DPI will devote more resources to advocacy and education than to pushing chicken consumption, which is at an all-time high of 76 pounds per person annually, according to the trade association. Poultry companies have faced increasing regulatory pressure in the past year, with scientists and legislators scrutinizing agricultural practices as one possible cause of the Pfiesteria outbreaks leading to fish kills in Eastern Shore waters.

Many Marylanders and the lawmakers who represent them are "not as knowledgeable about our industry as we would like them to be," said Bill Satterfield, executive director of DPI.

Pfiesteria wasn't the only culprit in the contest's demise, however. While the contest still required cooks to start from scratch using raw chicken, precooked, ready-to-serve chicken has gained popularity among many two-income families more concerned with a meal's ease than its originality.

"The industry is changing, the times are changing, and it was time for us to make a change," said Connie Parvis, who as DPI's director of consumer education had organized the contest for the last 26 years.

Second place went to Lisa Keys of Middlebury, Conn., for Japan-ease Chicken Salad, with Paula Pogorzelski of New Haven, Conn., third with Chicken De Paola. Marilyn Hahn of Angola, N.Y., made the best nonwinning quick-and-easy recipe, One Pan Chicken Salsa, and the recipe for New England Apple-Glazed Drumsticks earned Lorraine Carr of Rochester, Mass., a prize for best nonwinning dark meat recipe.

"Chicken Cookery," a booklet containing all the 1998 recipes, the winners from the 1996 affair and a look at poultry's past, is available by sending a $2 check or money order to DPI, c/o Cookbook, RD 6 Box 47, Georgetown, Del. 19947-9575.

Dorrie Mednick's Smothered Chicken

Makes 4 servings

4 broiler-fryer chicken breast halves, boned, skinned, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups cooked rice

Gingery Mango Sauce (recipe follows)

mango slices

In small dish, mix together flour, cinnamon, cumin and cayenne pepper. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, turning to coat.

In large nonstick fry pan or one sprayed with vegetable cooking spray, place oil and heat to medium-high temperature. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until chicken is brown and fork-tender.

Divide rice into four portions and place on individual serving plates; top with equal amounts of chicken. Spoon a small amount of Gingery Mango Sauce over chicken. Garnish with mango slices. Pass remaining sauce.

GINGERY MANGO SAUCE: In blender container, place 1 1/2 cups fresh or canned mango slices, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/4 teaspoon ginger; process until smooth. In small saucepan, heat sauce to medium temperature. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thoroughly heated. Makes about 1 3/4 cups.

Pub Date: 6/17/98

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