Garlic Festival winning recipe

Home chefs can bring home the flavor of the Gilroy Garlic Festival by preparing the winning dish from the 2017 Great Garlic Cook-Off, one of the nation’s most prestigious amateur cooking contests.

This year’s winner, Naylet LaRochelle, traveled from Miami, Florida to dazzle the panel of judges with her original recipe for “Smoky Salsa Roja Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Cotija Grits” at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 29, 2017.

LaRochelle beat out seven other finalists from all across the country to claim the $5,000 prize and coveted garlic crown.

Smoky Salsa Roja Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Cotija Grits
by Naylet LaRochelle (Miami, FL)

Serves 4


Roasted Vegetables Ingredients:
• 2 large Poblano peppers, tops trimmed, seeded, roughly chopped
• 2 small red chili peppers, tops trimmed, seeded, roughly chopped
• 4 plum tomatoes, cored, roughly chopped
• 2/3 cup chopped onion
• 3 garlic cloves
• 3 garlic heads, tops trimmed
• 3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 3 pinches, divided

Green Plantain Tostones Ingredients:
• Vegetable oil for frying
• 2 green plantains
• 3 pinches salt
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Salsa Roja Shrimp Ingredients:
• 3 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce, seeded
• 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
• 1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
• 2 small garlic cloves
• 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
• 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 3 tablespoons lime juice
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 pounds shrimp, shelled, deveined, tails removed (if frozen, thawed)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for finishing to taste
• 1/2 cup diced Spanish chorizo
• 3/4 teaspoon agave nectar
• 1/2 cup whole sweet corn kernels
• 1/3 to 2/3 cup water

Roasted Garlic Cotija Grits Ingredients:
• 4 cups water
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to preference
• 1 cup quick cooking grits
• 2 roasted garlic heads (reserved)
• 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3-6 tablespoons cream, or to achieve desired consistency
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
• 2 tablespoons crumbled Cotija Cheese


Roasted Vegetables:
Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl, add peppers, tomatoes, onion, and 3 garlic cloves. Add 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 teaspoon kosher salt; toss to coat. Spread a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast until vegetable edges begin to brown. Remove from oven; let cool. Drizzle garlic heads with 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 3 pinches salt. Wrap each in foil; place in oven along with vegetables. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until very soft. Remove from oven; set aside.

Green Plantain Tostones:
In a large, deep skillet, over medium high heat, add oil to cover bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides. Peel plantains; chop into about 3/4 inch rounds. When oil is very hot, add plantain rounds. Cook, flipping once, 2-3 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer to paper or parchment lined work surface. Using a potato masher, flatten each round. Return to oil. Fry, flipping once, 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to paper-lined work surface; sprinkle with salt and parsley.

Smoky Salsa Roja Shrimp:
In a food processor, add chipotle, cilantro, parsley, garlic cloves, cumin, smoked paprika, lime juice, and oil. Pulse several times to form a chunky paste. Sprinkle shrimp with 1½  teaspoon kosher salt; toss with chipotle mixture, fully coating shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to cook. In a large, deep nonstick skillet, over medium high heat, add chorizo. Cook for several minutes or until a bit crispy and some of the fat has rendered. Transfer to a paper lined plate; set aside.

In the same skillet (do not remove the chorizo oil), add shrimp with the chipotle mixture. Cook shrimp 2-3 minutes, or until no longer opaque. Reduce heat to medium.

In the food processor, add the roasted vegetables with any juices in pan. Pulse several times until chopped (still rather chunky) but not pureed. Add roasted vegetable mixture to shrimp in skillet; stir. Add agave nectar, corn, and water to thin mixture to desired consistency. Season with kosher salt to taste. Cook for 4-6 minutes to meld flavors. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

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