What did the buffalo say to his son? (Bison.)

Well, I came in second out of four for this competition. 

Photo credit: Alan Nudi
Photo credit: Alan Nudi

I was expecting to come in second, but was surprised by the dish mine lost to.

(Note on photo: We didn’t decide until the last minute if we were doing two competitions – appetizers and main dish – or putting all four in the same competitive pool, which we did end up doing. This is why two certificates say 1st and two say 2nd; 3rd and 4th just got bumped up a little bit, I suppose!)

Game Night 01-13-16: What did the Buffalo say? (Bison.)

  • Competition was for the best buffalo dish.
  • Game played: Salem 

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I really enjoyed this game, in no small part because I went to Salem not long ago, for Halloween. And dressed like witch.

The contenders:

  • Sarah Hodges with Loaded Potato and Buffalo Chicken Casserole
  • Kristi LaMonica with Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • Erin Nudi with Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells
  • Tara Nudi with Buffalo Chicken Jalapeno Poppers

The judges:

  • Teresa Behers
  • Jenny Grant
  • Peggy Hodges
  • Alan Nudi
  • Ryan Nudi
  • Melissa Severson

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Judged on:

  • Presentation: 10%
  • Mouthfeel: 10%
  • Heat/Spiciness: 10%
  • Buffa-level (authenticity): 20%
  • Overall Flavor: 50%

Final score out of 300 points:

  • Sarah’s buffalo dish: 256
  • Kristi’s buffalo dish: 253
  • Erin’s buffalo dish: 261
  • Tara’s buffalo dish: 278

Sarah’s dish:

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Kristi’s dish:

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Erin’s dish:

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Photo credit: Alan Nudi

Tara’s dish:

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Comments from judges…

On Sarah’s:

  • Wish the plate was arranged similarly to [Erin’s] – sauce on the side.
  • Missing some heat, but very creative and tasty!
  • Nice meal! Not hot, but very pleasant. I could eat a lot more of this.
  • Like the sour cream on top. I think the heat hits more after than during.
  • Really enjoyed the combination, and it’s a clear favorite, but felt the least authentic.
  • A great dinner for buffalo-lovers; not very spicy, but that means you can eat more of it!

On Kristi’s:

  • Wish presentation was more creative.
  • Safe choice. Although lacking in presentation, makes up in hotness and taste!
  • Classic, but somewhat bland.
  • Good but plain.
  • Great dip! Delicious. Would eat this at any picnic! Seemed very safe though.

On mine:

  • The most beautiful presentation of the four, and delicious, and interesting textures! Overall could not quite combine well enough the spice with the rest.
  • Wish the sauce was used as a drizzle instead of dumped on a plate.
  • Creative! Nice mix of cheeses, especially keeping the ricotta flavor along with buffalo!
  • The bleu/feta cheese threw the buffalo flavor off a little. Fun to dip in the sauce. Looked beautiful.*
  • Very creative. Though the pasta was a little dried out.
  • Slightly heavy on the bleu cheese for my taste, but proper on authenticity.

*I have to dispute this. There was no feta. There was bleu cheese, which is in fact very authentic to a buffalo flavor. That being said, there was definitely too much bleu cheese.

On Tara’s:

  • Amazing! Almost too spicy for me though, but overall excellent blend of flavors, texture, etc.
  • Texture of jalapeno a little mushy.
  • Love the drizzle! Mayo plus hot sauce? Very creative and not overpowering on spicy levels!
  • Awesome hot buffalo flavor but occasionally slid off pepper.
  • Really like the jalapeno, but almost think it takes away from the buffalo-ness – kind of overpowering. But delicious!

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My thoughts:

When I tasted Tara’s, I sighed a sigh of relief. This is good, I thought, but not amazing. She may actually not win this time.

Then, I tasted Sarah’s. I think for competitors, there’s always that bittersweet moment where you taste the other person’s food, and you say, oh crap. This is delightful. That was Sarah’s casserole for me.

Kristi’s I enjoyed also – it actually is very reminiscent of my own buffalo chicken dip. As others alluded to though, it was the overly safe choice, so I wasn’t too worried about that either.

So I came in second as I expected, but lost to Tara, and somehow by the grace of God beat out Sarah.

I think what happened was, I mentally set the bar much higher for Tara. I was like, oh, beautiful jalapeno popper buffalo chicken things with arty sauce drizzled and topped with bacon? Pfffftt. No competition here.

But if anyone other than Tara had made them…maybe I would have felt differently.

The recipes…

Sarah’s recipe hails from Food.com, with the following alterations:

  • 2 (20 oz) bags gold creamer potatoes, quartered, instead of medium potatoes.
  • Quadrupled the hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot Wing ); also drizzled generously with hot sauce after removing from oven.
  • Mixed Marie’s super bleu cheese with sour cream for a fun topping.
Photo credit: Alan Nudi
Photo credit: Alan Nudi

Kristi’s recipe is as follows: 3 cups shredded chicken breasts, 1 package 1/3 less fat Philly cream cheese, 3 cups reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese, and 1/3 large bottle Frank’s Red Hot sauce. Mix and microwave. Easy and classic.

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My recipe comes once again from FlavorMosiac.com.

I have to say, my trial run went better than the real thing. My pasta was slightly dried out, and I put too much bleu cheese and mozzarella on top of the shells. Lesson for next time: Cook on site if possible.

These photos are from the trial run; you can see the slight difference between them here, and the photo up above.

Photo credit: Alan Nudi
Photo credit: Alan Nudi
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Photo credit: Alan Nudi

Tara’s dish is a combination of recipes from HalfBakedHarvest.com and SkinnyTaste.com. She garnished the two with a mixture of half sour cream, half wing sauce, and tossed on some bacon, because, bacon.

Photo credit: Alan Nudi
Photo credit: Alan Nudi

Up next game night: to be determined! Suggestions welcome – both food and games!