During the Thanksgiving holiday, our family started a new tradition. All cooks who are brave enough to step up to the challenge will participate in our annual “Throwdown.” I got the idea from the Food Network show “Throwdown with Bobby Flay.” If you’re not familiar with the show the basic premise is as follows: Food Network identifies chefs around the country with signature dishes and Bobby Flay challenges them with his version of their dishes.
I challenged my mother and mother-in law to a “Sweet Potato Pie Throwdown.” I chose sweet potato pie since this dish was no one’s claim to fame. Everyone had a level playing field. Besides, I wasn’t brave enough to challenge them with their signature dishes. The consequences of my making their dishes better than them would have been quite unpleasant for all involved.
The Moms were a bit hesitant when I challenged them, but they came around quickly. Throughout the week, I taunted and intimidated them with trash talk. I think my tactics rattled my mother-in-law a bit because she chose to take all of her ingredients to my sister-in-laws house and make her pie in private.
Actually, I was only full of talk because I had never made a pie before. I searched online for a suitable recipe, but none of them struck me as a winning contender. I was discussing my pie dilemma with my wife when out of the blue my daughter says, “Why don’t you try some chocolate on it?” Brilliant!
I made a basic sweet potato pie and then concocted a creamy chocolate rum sauce. I garnished the pie with fresh pecans and drizzled the sauce on top. It was a work of art. There was no way that my pie was going to lose.
After Thanksgiving dinner, each contestant revealed his or her pie. My competition was my mother’s traditional sweet potato pie and my mother-in-law’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Bourbon Sauce.
There were six judges and each got to sample the pies and cast a vote. I tasted both pies and still felt confident that my pie would win. I tried to bribe the judges with an extra slice for some extra assurance, but they weren’t taking the bait.
My sister-in-law counted the votes and announced that the winner of the first annual Throwdown, by a vote of 4-2, was my mother-in-law’s Sweet Potato Pecan Pie with Bourbon Sauce. Of those two votes, one of them was mine and I assumed that the other was my wife’s. Wrong! It turns out that my own wife betrayed me. I felt like Debra (From Everybody Loves Raymond) did when Ray voted for her opponent for school president (A Vote for Debra 2002).
“Her pie was better, what can I say,” was the excuse she gave. If my pie were made of maggots and feces, she should have voted for it. Bottom Line. We may need some marital counseling before next year’s Throwdown.
I took solace in the fact that the children, even though they didn’t have a vote, liked my pie the best. In essence I won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote. I was the Al Gore of pie.
Anyway, here is the winning recipe.
Join the conversation: What is your favorite holiday tradition?