Astoria Resident Wins Recipe Challenge
By MEGAN MONTALVO
|Astoria resident Pamela Vachon has been named top winner of the College Inn Ultimate Recipe Challenge.
Pamela Vachon may live in Astoria, but when it comes to her recipes, her name is known nationwide.
On Dec. 10, College Inn broth named Vachon as the top winner in its first-ever Ultimate Recipe Challenge for her inventive spin on creamy chicken enchilada soup.
Along with winning $5,000 in grand prize money, College Inn also awarded Vachon with a $500 gift card for her savory honey mustard poached pears and figs recipe.
“I was very shocked that I won,” said Vachon, who is also a waitress at Blue Smoke Restaurant in Manhattan. “To think that somewhere across the country, someone is using my recipe to prepare their dinner is just amazing.”
Though she drew from her education at the Institute of Culinary Education, from which she graduated after earning a Master’s degree in music from the Colombia Graduate School, Vachon said she does not plan on quitting her waitress job any time soon.
“Entering recipe challenges is a fun, side hobby of mine,” she said. “My passion remains in being a waitress. I love educating people about food.”
As part of her prize, Vachon will also attend the No Kid Hungry charity dinner in San Francisco next month with Chef Amanda Freitag, who is a judge on the Food Network series Chopped and competitor on “The Next Iron Chef: Redemption.”
For those interested in preparing the award-winning dish at home, the recipe is as follows:
Ingredients call for one pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, one quart of College Inn Chicken Broth, canola oil, one-fourth teaspoon of salt, two soft corn tortillas sliced into quarter-inch strips, one small, diced yellow onion, one minced garlic clove, a teaspoon of ground cumin, one and a half teaspoons of chilli powder, 14 and a half ounces of canned, diced tomatoes, one fourth cup of lime juice, one fourth teaspoon of lime zest, two scallions, bias-sliced into one-fourth-inch pieces, one-half-cup of shredded cheddar cheese, four ounces of reduced fat cream cheese or neufchatel cheese and four ounces of canned, diced green chilies.
Once all ingredients are collected, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In an oven-proof dish, brush chicken thighs with one-half teaspoon canola oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook chicken thighs in oven until cooked through, for about 15 minutes. Shred cooked chicken meat with 2 forks and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a half-cup of canola oil in a small sauté pan. Add tortilla strips in two batches and fry until golden brown, for about 2 minutes each batch. Drain on paper-towel lined sheet, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
In a large soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, for about 3 minutes. Then, add garlic and cook 1 more minute. Do not brown garlic.
Next, add chili powder and cumin; stir to distribute evenly and cook 30 seconds. Add lime juice, lime zest, College Inn Chicken Broth, tomatoes and diced chilies. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Add shredded chicken and cream cheese. Simmer until cream cheese is melted and chicken is heated through, about 10 minutes.
Lastly, ladle into individual bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla strips, and scallions.
Total prep time is an estimated 20 minutes. Cook time will take another 45 minutes. The recipe serves approximately four to six people.
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or email@example.com.