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Day staffers know that on most days, a group email from Layout Specialist Rich Swanson will alert the building to tastings of his latest culinary creations. The resulting stampede down to Swanson's office is just one indicator of his prowess in the kitchen. Just last week, Swanson offered tastings of Banana Cornbread Whoopie Pies with Bittersweet Chocolate Crème and Raspberries in Tequila Coulis.
From sweet treats to savories, Swanson, a Waterford resident, is an avid competitive home chef, who has participated in 125 competitions and has placed or won in 17 of them.
In a recent competition, the Ultimate Recipe Challenge sponsored by College Inn Broth, Swanson took first place in the Entree category for his Cherry Bomb Meatloaf Sliders. The contest challenged at-home chefs to create flavorful recipes using College Inn broth.
Sarah Ludmer, a senior nutritionist at Del Monte Foods and one of the contest judges, noted, "Richard's Cherry Bomb Meatloaf Sliders was one of my favorite recipes of the day as there was a nice balance of sweet and savory. ... The cheese mixture that was combined with Worcestershire sauce and chives was a great flavorful addition."
If you care to try your hand at Swanson's dish, we present his award-winning recipe here.
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 cup chicken broth*
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground meatloaf mix
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons pickle relish
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup beef broth*
1 egg, whisked
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 deli slices smoked provolone, chopped (4 ounces)
2 teaspoons chopped chives
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
12 Hawaiian or Portugeuse sweet dinner rolls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the cherries, chicken broth, garlic, balsamic vinegar and tomato paste into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes until the liquid has mostly evaporated and has become a thick, bubbly syrup. Remove from heat and place in the food processor; process the cherry mixture for 2 minutes, drizzling in the hot sauce and olive oil until fully emulsified. Salt to taste. Set aside.
Place the meatloaf mix into a mixing bowl and break it into large chunks with your hands. Add the garlic, onion, relish, parsley, bread crumbs, beef broth, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix ingredients together until combined. Place the meatloaf into a 9x13 baking pan and make a long log, stretching diagonally and smooth the top.
Place into the oven for 30 minutes and then glaze with a couple tablespoons of the cherry chimichurri. Bake for an additional 15 minutes and remove from oven. Let the meatloaf rest for 10 minutes and then cut into 12 slices, 1 inch thick.
While the meatloaf is baking, combine the cream cheese, provolone, chives and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl and stir them together until you have thick, chunky spread.
Place each slice of meatloaf onto a sweet roll top with a heaping teaspoon of the cherry chimichurri and a heaping teaspoon of the cheese spread. Makes 12 sliders.
*Swanson used College Inn broth.
It's great to be singled out for your creativity. You get a double hit of gratification when people try your food and compliment you on an original recipe and then it wins a contest.
I've competed in over 125 contests, I've won or placed in 17.