Side Dish: Come hogs and high water

Torrential rainstorms Friday and very early Saturday had the 2014 Hogs for the Cause competitors scrambling to move their pits out of high water and hang on to flying tents.

Overcast skies and cool temps greeted Saturday morning’s early arrivals, who slogged through mud to get to the 90 competitors’ food booths at “City Pork” in New Orleans. But, by the afternoon, the sun had come out and the grounds were packed with people partaking of barbecued delights.

As one of dozens of volunteer judges for the soggy Sixth Annual Ben Serrat Jr. “High on the Hog” Cook-off Saturday in New Orleans’ City Park, I learned two things. One, invest in rubber boots. Two, barbecue competitors offer plenty of creative and “pork-licious” eating.

Bacon Rouge team

Among the delights were two entries from Bacon Rouge, a Baton Rouge team competing in the High on the Hog Cook-off for the first time. I tried both after finishing my judging duties.

Blogger and chef Jay Ducote and Aimee Totorich, a senior at Louisiana Culinary Institute, entered a fried ball made with red beans and rice and topped with an aï oli into the competition’s bean category, a new one sponsored by Camellia Beans.

Ducote said the arancini-like snack was made of Camellia red beans cooked with pork from Iverstine Family Farms and Cajun Country brand long-grain brown rice. After forming the mixture into balls, they rolled the balls in an egg wash and then in a mixture of panko bread crumbs and Slap Ya Mama fish fry. After frying, the Rouge Bean and Rice Balls were drizzled with an aïoli made from Ducote’s barbecue sauce and a mayonnaise by Tortorich. They estimated they sold 1,500 of them for the charity, which is the premier fundraiser for pediatric brain cancer outreach services in the United States.

I could have eaten several of those, but the Bacon Rouge team’s Pork-pourri (anything pork) entry, a chocolate candy bar dubbed “Hogg Bone,” beckoned.

The treat developed by Louisiana Culinary Institute chef Alex Hamman consisted of milk chocolate, coconut oil, tasso and cracklin’ dust atop a cheddar cheese crisp. It was absolutely delicious.

The team, which also included Drew Breitling, Travis Ducote, Galen Iverstine, Brennan Kluka, Blair Loup, Andrew Rose and Robert Wise, did well for a first-time entrant, but competition was tough.

Bacon Rouge placed fourth in Beans; eighth in Ribs; 27th in Shoulder; 48th in Sauce; 53rd in Pork-pourri; and 58th in Whole Hog.

Top winners

CharQueterie, which included members from New Orleans, Mississippi, Miami and South Dakota, won the title of Grand Champion.

The champions in the event’s six categories were Beans, Fleur de Que; Sauce, Holy Smokes; Whole Hog, Aporkalypse Now; Shoulder, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q; Ribs, Frey Smoked Meat Co.; and Pork-pourri, Swine Krewe.

Teams also competed for Top Fundraiser; Team Fleur De Que took home the trophy by raising more than $63,000 , a news release said.

In addition, Hogs for the Cause named its first inductees into the Hog of Fame. The award represents continued dedication and service to the organization. This year’s inductees are Lara Filipek and Drew Herrington.

Filipek, of team Sweet Swine O Mine, is a five-year Hogs for the Cause competitor and cancer survivor who has spent the last four years as the official architect of Hogs for the Cause, said Becker Hall, Hogs for the Cause co-founder.

Herrington, of Team Fleur De Que, saved Hogs IV by marshaling a team of workers to drain the field after the downpours in the week leading up to the event threatened to turn “City Pork” into a pig sty, said co-founder Rene Louapre.

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com.