With Mardi Gras just around the corner, revelers already are anticipating the festival’s signature beignets. Piping hot and piled high with powdered sugar, a bead-worthy beignet begins with the right cooking oil. Now through Feb. 18, the National Cottonseed Products Association (NCPA) is challenging chefs and cooks to create their best beignet using cottonseed oil. The winner of the “Best Beignet” video contest receives $5,000.
Café du Monde, New Orleans’ legendary French Market café, has long maintained that the key to creating its perfect pillow-shaped donuts is cottonseed oil.
“It’s all about the oil,” says Burt Benrud, vice president of Café du Monde. “We use only 100 percent cottonseed oil, which is very neutral in flavor, and won’t overpower the simple sweetness of the beignet. We’ve used the same family recipe for generations.”
Product Has Versatility
Benrud says cottonseed oil performs in any frying application, whether in a restaurant fryer or a small skillet at home.
“Café du Monde uses giant fryers and gallons of oil,” he explains. “At home, most cooks use a smaller skillet and a smaller quantity of oil, which together hold less heat. One trick to perfecting home-prepared beignets is to make them smaller. The heat reaches the inside more easily, making light and puffy pastries.”
NCPA’s “Best Beignet” video contest requires entrants to demonstrate in three minutes or less their tips for creating their best beignet, fried in cottonseed oil. Entries must be uploaded at http://www.cottonseedoiltour.com/video-contest/ by Feb. 18, 2011 at 11:59 p.m. (EST). NCPA will select the winning video, based on the following criteria: features use of cottonseed oil; promotes benefits of making beignets with cottonseed oil; originality of video; and clarity/professionalism of presentation. One grand prize winner will receive $5,000; plus, they’ll be featured on CottonseedOilTour.com and will be recognized on The Reuters Sign in the heart of Times Square (via PR Newswire).
Watch The Expert
For additional details about NCPA’s “Best Beignet” video contest, including the official rules, interested persons should visit http://www.cottonseedoiltour.com/mardi-gras/. Cooks needing a little on-camera inspiration are encouraged to watch Chef Philip Dorwart create his best Café-du-Monde style beignet.
Cottonseed oil is America’s original vegetable oil. It is naturally trans-free and a popular oil for many southern fried foods. Consumers can purchase the oil at various sporting goods stores, including Bass Pro Shops, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Harvest PR & Marketing, which represents the National Cottonseed Products Association, contributed information for this article.