Powell wins State Beef Cookoff

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2000

Features Editor

March 1, 2000 10 PM

If Heather Powell had false teeth, they would have dropped right out of her mouth when her name was called as the winner to the State Cattlewomen’s Beef Cookoff held in Montgomery Saturday.

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The Pike Liberal Arts School sophomore was so surprised that she froze in her seat and had to be prompted to accept the award by the young woman sitting next to her.

"That’s you! Go! Go!" the young woman said.

"I couldn’t believe it," Heather said, laughing. "My mother couldn’t either. She was so surprised she couldn’t even applaud."

The reason for their surprise was that Heather’s entry "sat there in a Pyrex dish with a glob of sour cream on top" surrounded by dishes that were so beautifully presented that Heather thought hers paled in comparison.

However, as the old adage says, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’ and you certainly can’t judge a dish by its dish.

Heather’s Stuffed Beef and Black Bean Tamale Pie was first named the winner in the South division of the competition and then topped the winner from the North division as the best entry in the statewide beef cookoff.

To earn a place in the state competition, Heather’s recipe won the Pike County Cattlewomen’s Beef Cookoff in January. Her tamale pie had everyone at the cookoff tasting and talking its excellent taste. Everyone except Heather who was talking so much the cupboard was bare when she got there.

"All of my recipe was gone and I didn’t get to taste it," she said. "I didn’t get to taste it at the state cookoff either, so I don’t know if it’s good or not," Heather said, laughing. "But I’ve got to cook it for a supper at my church, for the faculty at school, for my mother’s office and for the radio station. I’ll try it one of those times."

The Stuffed Beef and Black Bean Tamale Pie got in the local beef cookoff by chance, Heather said.

"I had planned to enter Beef International but then I thought I made it a couple of years ago and it didn’t get me anywhere. So, I flipped through a cookbook and found the tamale pie recipe. I love Mexican food so I decided to try it. We went to the grocery store and got the ingredients and it wasn’t hard to make. But, it didn’t look that good and I didn’t think it had a chance."

However, Heather had not tasted the pie that would get raves from the judges on the local and state levels.

Heather said the judges at the state cookoff said the black bean tamale pie had a different taste – a little sweet but hot. Very different, they said, and very good.

For her blue ribbon recipe, Heather won $350 for herself, $100 for her school and a microwave oven for the students at her school. The microwave will be placed in the students’ break room and Headmaster Delaney Kervin said he is certain the students will know how to use it, especially since it has a remote control.

Heather gladly shares her winning recipe with Messenger readers.

Stuffed Beef and Black Bean Tamale Pie

1 pound lean ground beef

1 packet taco seasoning mix

1 can (15 to 16-ounces) black beans, rinse, drained

1/2 cup water

1 can (8 4/5-ounces) whole kernel corn, very well drained

3/4 cup light dairy sour cream

3/4 cup shredded Co-Jack or Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions


1 package (8 1/2-ounces) corn muffin mix

3/4 cup shredded Co-Jack or Cheddar cheese

3/4 cup light dairy sour cream

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat large non stick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add ground beef; brown 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings. Stir in seasoning mix, beans and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; set aside. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, combine crust ingredients, mixing just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Batter will be stiff.) Using spoon dipped in water, spread slightly more than 1/2 the batter onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie pan. Arrange corn over batter; top with beef mixture. Spoon remaining batter over beef, along outer edge of pie. Carefully spread batter toward center, leaving 3-inch circle uncovered. Bake in 4000-degree oven 23 to 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. To serve, dollop 3/4 cup sour cream over top; sprinkle with 3/4 cup cheese and 1/3 cup green onions. Cut into wedges. Makes 4 servings.