The Got to Be N.C. Competition Dining Series faces off two local chefs in a single-elimination, blind-dinner format. The chef’s menu is created around the North Carolina ingredient that is revealed at noon on the day of the competition. This secret ingredient must be used in each course. Grand prize is $2,000 and a red chef’s jacket. The competition is held in Asheville, Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Wilmington.
Chef Thompson went head-to-head with Chef Matthew Culpepper of The Quiet Pint Tavern in Winston-Salem. Each chef had to include heritage chicken (Poulet Rouge Fermier) from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem and purple sweet potatoes from Scott Farms in Lucama in their battle dishes. Thompson won the battle (recap) and will compete May 13 in the quarter-final round against Chef Tony Stevens of Cast Iron Kitchen in High Point. Reservations are still available for this and other upcoming Fire in the Triad events.
Below is Thompson’s recipe for Sweet Potato Mousse, which was the highest scoring course of his battle. He recommends making this recipe the day before you plan to serve it.
Purple Sweet Potato Mousse with Maple Bourbon Honey Syrup and Graham Cracker Crust
Sweet potatoes: Set out the cream cheese two hours prior to use. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse all the dirt from the sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes vary in size so when you buy them just remember to buy a little extra, this will account for lost product after roasting and peeling). Place the potatoes on a foil-lined baking and put them in the oven. Cook the potatoes until you can easily pierce the potato to the center with a knife. Cooking time will depend on the size of the potatoes; you should probably allow yourself two hours to cook the potatoes. Once the potatoes have been removed from the oven and given time to cool, peel and puree the potatoes, then set them aside.
Crust: While the potatoes are cooking melt the butter for the pie crust. Mix the butter with the rest of the pie crust ingredients. It is best to mix this with your hands. Line a nine-inch pie pan with graham cracker mixture and put that into the oven with the sweet potatoes for about eight minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside to cool.
Sauce: Pour all the sauce ingredients in a heavy-bottom stainless steel saucepan. Cook on medium heat and reduce the contents by a third. The sauce may appear thin, but this is normal when it is hot. Allow the sauce to cool for thirty minutes; it will be thick and sticky.
Mousse: First whip the heavy cream with powdered sugar to stiff peaks, set aside. Then in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the potatoes with the remainder of the mousse ingredients on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and completely blended together. Now fold in the whip cream with the potato mixture until both are completely blended.
Spoon mousse into cooled pie crust, refrigerate for two or three hours. The longer you leave it in the refrigerator the firmer it will be.
Garnish with berries and finish with the syrup you made earlier.