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A-Brisket A-Brasket: NYC Brisket Cook-Off Inspires

The Kitchen NYC's Wagyu beef brisket.

The first time I tried brisket, it was many years ago at a family friend’s house. The gentleman sitting next to me—someone I knew not in the least — caught me biting my fingernails, leaned over, and into my ear whispered “Just wait ’till you try the brisket.” And wait I did, red-cheeked and all, until finally I had my first mouthful, and immediately turned to tell the man that he was right. In between chews, barely able to open my mouth, I exclaimed: “Brisket is good!”

Not too long after, I tried another brisket, this one shelled in a layer of fat and deeply browned on its extremes. It too was absolutely delicious, and so again I couldn’t resist the urge to say it out loud. Over the years, it’s seemed to happen each and every time I try a new take on the classic cut. Dry-cured pastrami, thin-sliced corned beef, Texas-style barbecued—you name it. They’ve all floored me.

So when I learned that fellow brisket enthusiast Jimmy Carbone of NYC’s Jimmy’s No. 43 was hosting a cook-off to celebrate the versatile beef, I couldn’t help but dream up what some of NYC’s most experienced meat lovers would enter into the contest.

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Na’Cho Average Party Snack

Nachos, nachos, man.

2011: Year of the Rabbit. Sure, that’s fun. But how about the Year of the Nacho?

Chips are a blank canvas. Load ‘em up with whatever you like, and bake. It’s the ultimate customizable snack. (Recite the following in your best Benjamin Buford Blue from Forest Gump voice) There’s Shrimp Nachos, Beef Nachos, Breakfast Nachos, Pork Nachos, Eggs Benedict Nachos, Buffalo Chicken Nachos, Spinach-Artichoke Nachos, Veggie Nachos, Seafood Nachos, S’Mores Nachos, Strawberry Shortcake Nachos . . . Nacho toppings are limited only by your imagination. And you don’t even need to use chips! Pretzels, bagel chips, pita chips, Triscuits — all nacho-worthy. There are surely enough nachos to have a different combo every single day for at least a year. (C’mon, who’s up for it?)

Since Super Bowl season is basically nacho season, the watercooler chatter at the Cooking Channel and Food Network offices has been themed around who tops the best chips. Naturally, a competition was in order, thus the idea for the First Annual Nacho Cook-Off was born. Take 8 different nachos, a few celebrity judges, and some healthy competition, and you have an average afternoon at the office for us.

Sunny Anderson, host of Food Network’s Cooking for Real, Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey’s Essentials, and Claudia Sidoti, Senior Recipe Developer at Food Network Kitchens (she worked on Food Network Magazine’s 50 Nachos booklet!) stopped by the office to judge the cook-off. They tried each of the 8 contestants’ nachos, deliberated in a private room and announced the winner and runner up.

Celebrity judges Sunny Anderson, Kelsey Nixon and Claudia Sidoti taste the nacho entries.

There’s no such thing as a bad nacho, right? Judging must have been tough.

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