The Great Garlic Cook-off is one of the most well-known cooking contests in the country. Beginning in September, the Gilroy Garlic Festival puts out a call across the United States and Canada for the best garlic recipes. Hundreds of amateur chefs respond with delicious sounding recipes that run the gamut from soups to desserts and from every type of cuisine.Recent winners have included Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta, Warm Weather Watermelon Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup; Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey, and Walnut-Garlic Tart with Garlic-Infused Cream and Chili Syrup.
The most delicious-sounding recipes, approximately 50, are forwarded to a professional food consultant who makes the final selection of the eight recipes. The consultant prepares each recipe to ensure correct measurements and use of ingredients. These finalists’ recipes are those considered to make the most interesting and exciting contest.
The finalists come to Gilroy to prepare their recipes on the Saturday of the festival in front of the public. By 12:15, celebrity judges pick their favorites. The winner of the Great Garlic Cook-Off is appropriately honored with a crown of garlic and goes home $5,000 richer. Second place is awarded $2,500; third, $1,000. The other finalists are given $100.00 each.
For garlic tips and new recipes, the Great Garlic Cook-Off Stage is the place you want to be!
2013 Great Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-off
- Recipes for the 2013 Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest and Cook-off must be original and specify at least six cloves of fresh garlic, or the equivalent packaged form (three teaspoons minced or chopped.) Contestants must prepare seven separate plates, six plates for the judges and one plate to be used for presentation to the judges all within a maximum of two hours. Contestants may enter two recipes, one entry per envelope or Internet transmission. Each entry must be typewritten or hand-printed legibly in recipe format. A photo of each entry should be included with the recipe submission. Recipe format lists ingredients in order of use with amount/quantity, followed by step-by-step method of preparation. The contestant name, address and telephone number must be included with each recipe submission.
- Professional chefs, cooks, food stylists and other food specialists are prohibited from entering this contest. Previous Gilroy Garlic Festival Cook-off contest winners (first, second and third place) are ineligible to enter for three full years (e.g. the winners of the 2012 Cook-off are not eligible to enter until the call for recipes for the 2016 Cook-off). Contest is open to residents of U.S. and Canada only, twenty-one years of age or older. Void where prohibited, taxed, or restricted by state or local law.
- Recipes must be mailed, or transmitted via the Internet to Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc., 2013 Great Garlic Recipe Contest and Cook-off, P.O. Box 2311, Gilroy, CA 95021-2311, and postmarked no later than May 1, 2013. The Internet address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. All recipes submitted as entries become the property of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, Inc. By entering the contest, all participants consent to the commercial use of their name, picture, likeness and recipe for advertising and publicity purposes without further compensation.
- Food professionals will consider qualifying entries. These food professionals select the eight finalists. Notification and details of Cook-off participation will be made to the eight finalists prior to June 13, 2013. A certification of recipe originality will be required from each finalist.
- Finalists provide all ingredients necessary for their recipes (with the exception of garlic which the festival provides), as well as all required cooking utensils & dishes for presentation (stoves, sinks and refrigerators will be provided). Include a picture of the prepared dish with your entry. The photo does not have to be professionally done; it will serve as an aid in the initial review process.
- On July 27, 2013, dishes prepared by the finalists on the festival Cook-off Stage, will be judged by a panel of five judges, food experts and celebrities. Selection of the five judges is at the sole discretion of the Garlic Festival Cook-off Committee. The basis for judging will be ease of preparation, flavor, texture, creativity, appearance and use of garlic. The decision of the judging panel is final and binding.
- On stage participation during the Cook-off is limited to the contestants and volunteer helpers provided by the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Family and friends of the contestants are not permitted on-stage during the Cook-off.
- Prizes at the Great Gilroy Garlic Festival Recipe Contest are offered only to those finalists who participate in the Cook-off on July 27, 2013. The prizes are: $5,000 for first place; $2,500 for second place; and $1,000 for third place and $100 for each of the other five finalists. All taxes are the sole responsibility of the winners. Contestants receiving $600 or more in prize money will be required to have a signed W-9 on file prior to payment.
- The Garlic Festival will provide each contestant (from out of the area) with hotel accommodations, one room for two nights in Gilroy. Additional room charges are the sole responsibility of the contestant. Each contestant is expected to make his or her own travel arrangements to Gilroy, California. If warranted, one ticket for air travel will be reimbursed to the contestant only at coach class fare. A rental car for a contestant will be reimbursed at mid-size or smaller rate for a maximum of two days, not to exceed $55 per day.
2012 - First Place
Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta
by contestant Laureen Pittman, Riverside CA
2 rectangular slabs pork belly (1 ½ – 2 pounds each), skin removed
(remove the skin only – leave the fabulous fat!)
4 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarse ground pepper
1 head garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled
1 quart chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow or brown onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup dry red wine
½ cup apple juice
½ cup honey
7 ounces dried figs, tough stems removed and chopped
1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup water (if necessary)
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups polenta (not quick-cooking) or yellow cornmeal
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
Water, if necessary
8 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish
Method of Preparation:
First, prepare the pork belly. Score the fat of the pork belly without cutting into the meat. Rub the salt and pepper onto both sides of each slab. Place the slabs, fat side up, in a 10-12 quart pressure cooker (in a single layer if possible – you can cut them in half, if needed), then pour the chicken broth over the top of the belly. Throw in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure, and then lower the heat to maintain that pressure and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove belly from braising liquid, along with the garlic cloves; drain and keep warm.
While the pork belly is in the pressure cooker, make the agrodolce sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet (12-inch) over medium-high heat, add onions and sauté 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for another 30 seconds. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. Keep warm. Add water, a little at a time, if sauce becomes too thick.
While finishing the agrodolce, start the polenta. Bring the broth, milk and salt to a boil in a 4-quart heavy pot, then add polenta in a thin stream, whisking. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, 2 minutes, to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low and simmer polenta, covered, stirring every 10 minutes or so, 45 minutes total. Add the cream and the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve. Stir occasionally and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper, if necessary, and stir in a little water if polenta thickens too much.
To serve, cut the pork belly into 7 or 8 serving pieces. Sear the fat side of the belly in a hot, non-stick skillet or griddle until crispy (45 seconds to 1 minute). Be careful not to burn the fat. Spoon some of the warm polenta onto a serving plate. Top with a piece of the crispy pork belly and a spoonful of the agrodolce. Squeeze a couple of the cooked garlic cloves out of their skins and on top of the agrodolce. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
2012 – 2nd Place
Golden Garlic Chicken-Broccoli Rabe Lasagna Cups with Fiery Roasted Jalapeno Alfredo Sauce and Red Chili Oil
by contestant Veronica Callaghan, Glastonbury CT
Garlic Poached Chicken
4 cups chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 boneless chicken breast halves, trimmed
1 bunch broccoli rabe
3 tablespoon good quality olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1 (8 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained (oil reserved)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 ounces shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
24 wonton wrappers
1 jalapeno pepper, roasted until charred
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon good quality olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Red Chili Oil
1 teaspoon chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek)
Oil reserved from the sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped basil for garnish
Method of Preparation:
Place the chicken broth, garlic cloves and chicken breasts in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover the pot with a lid and remove from the heat. Let the chicken sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the pot and transfer to a cutting board; dice.
Trim the hard ends from the broccoli rabe and discard. Cut broccoli rabe into 1 inch pieces. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and the broccoli rabe, using tongs, toss to coat with oil. Season the broccoli lightly with salt and pepper and let cook, stirring occasionally, until very wilted-about 10 minutes.
Finely chop the sun dried tomatoes and add half to the pan with the wilted broccoli rabe. Stir in the diced chicken, mascarpone cheese, the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and 1/2 of the cheddar cheese; stir until cheeses are melted and mixture is well combined.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Press one wonton wrapper into each section to form a cup. Divide half the chicken mixture between each of the cups. Top each with the remaining wonton wrappers pressing down lightly around the filling. Divide the remaining chicken mixture between each, mounding on top. Sprinkle each cup with the remaining cheddar cheese, evenly dividing. Bake cups in the preheated oven until golden and bubbly, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove and discard the skin, seeds and membranes from the roasted jalapeno, mince. Wipe out the skillet used for the broccoli rabe and chicken. Melt the butter in the tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Stir in the jalapeno, lemon juice and garlic. Whisk in the heavy cream and bring just to a boil. Simmer until slightly thickened then stir in the Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese.
Whisk together the chili paste and the reserved oil from the sun dried tomatoes.
To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the Alfredo Sauce onto each of 6 serving plates. Arrange 2 lasagna cups onto the sauce on each. Garnish with the basil, remaining chopped sun dried tomatoes and drizzle with the chili oil.
2012 - 3rd Place
Garlic Lamb Meatballs in Indian Spiced Sauce over Coconut Garlic Infused Rice
by contestant Renee Pokorny, Ventura CA
Garlic Lamb Meatballs and Indian Spiced Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion – chopped fine
8 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided – more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided – more to taste
1 can (28 ounce) fire roasted crushed tomatoes*
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons honey
1 3/4 teaspoons Garam Masala, divided**
1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup feta cheese
3/4 teaspoon favorite Creole seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 large eggs – beaten
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
Method of Preparation:
Heat a large heavy 6 quart pot (not cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Once oil is shimmering and hot, then add the onions and sauté for about 2 minutes, then add 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Continue to sauté for about another 3 minutes or until fragrant and onions are translucent. Add in the fire roasted crushed tomatoes, broth, honey, 1 teaspoon Garam Masala and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to just under a boil then reduce heat to medium and let mixture simmer while preparing the meatballs being sure to leave uncovered and stir occasionally.
In a food-processor add the dried bread crumbs, 1/2 cup cilantro, remaining cloves of garlic, feta cheese, remaining Garam Masala, Creole seasoning and crushed red pepper flakes. Process the mixture until well combined and minced in uniform size. Add this mixture to a large bowl along with the eggs and ground lamb. Gently mix to incorporate. Roll into 1 inch balls (a #50 cookie scoop works well for this). Heat the remaining oil into a large heavy skillet (cast iron skillet preferred) over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot add the meatballs. You may need to cook in batches if you do not have a pan large enough. Do not crowd pan or meatballs will steam and not brown. Cook for about 8 minutes turning occasionally to brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from the skillet with tongs and place in the tomato sauce. Add lemon juice to sauce. Let meatballs simmer in the sauce uncovered for at least 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over Coconut Rice (recipe below). Garnish with remaining cilantro.
* Tomatoes may also be labeled as ground peeled tomatoes.
** Garam Masala is an Indian spice blend that generally contains: cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, peppercorn and nutmeg. It can be found in most grocery stores’ spice aisle or ethnic aisle and can always be found in Middle Eastern shops.
Coconut Garlic Rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups basmati rice
1 1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup scallions
1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Method of Preparation:
In a 10 inch skillet heat the oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Sauté until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute then add the rice. Continue to sauté for 1 more minute or until the rice is well coated. In the meantime, bring coconut milk and broth to a boil in a 4 quart saucepan. Add garlic and rice to a 4 quart saucepan and add the salt (or place into a rice steamer and follow manufacturer’s instructions). Bring mixture back to a boil; stir once or twice. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed, replace lid and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove from heat and place into a large bowl. Add the scallions, lemon zest, cilantro and mint. Fluff with a fork.
Great Garlic Cook-Off
Crispy Pork Belly with Caramelized Onion and Fig Agrodolce and Creamy Polenta
Stacked Steak Napoleon on Garlic Paper with Asparagus, Radicchio, Shiitakes and Stilton
Warm Weather Watermelon
Crabmeat Kissed South Seas Soup
Spicy Garlic Butter Cookies
with Garlic Goat Cheese and Honey
Walnut-Garlic Tart with Garlic-Infused Cream and Chili Syrup
Chai Steeped Chicken Breasts with
Oriental Aioli, Vegetables Vinaigrette and Spiced Black Rice
Oh Baby! Prosciutto Wrapped, Roasted Garlic, Feta & Rosemary Stuffed Bellas
Basil & Garlic Stuffed Sea Scallops Wrapped in Prosciutto with a Spicy Beurre Blanc
Garlic Seafood Soup
Grilled Candied-Garlic Salmon on Crispy Rice Noodles and
Baby Asian Greens
Garlic-Scented Seafood Cakes with
Citrus Salsa & Chipotle Aioli
Garlic Marnier Duck Pot Stickers
Creamy Potato Gratin with
Gorgonzola, Pears & Pecans
Creamy Cancun Roasted Garlic Soup
with Fiery Garlic Shrimp
Garlic Spring Rolls
with Garlicky-Lime Sauce
Sizzling Garlic & Citrus Shrimp
Garlic Country Cornmeal Scones
Spicy Garlic Chili
Bedoni’s Oyster Boat
Garlic Mushroom Soup
Garlic & Chili Relleno Souffle
Carmelized Garlic Phyllo Focaccia
Grilled Turkey Tenderloins
in Garlic-Ancho Chili Sauce
Green Card Casserole
Healthy Hot & Garlicky Wings
Garlic Cheese Ravioli
& Bechamel Sauce
Renee’s Seafood Fra Diavolo
Grilled Fish with Garlic Salsa
Artichokes Alla Rosina
Jo’s Baked Garlic Soup
Kelly’s Asian Chicken