Merry Graham, of Newhall, has won the Grand Prize from the 505 Southwestern 25 Years of Flavor nationwide recipe contest.
The nation’s leading Hatch Valley green chile products company, 505 Southwestern held the recipe contest as part of its larger “25 Years of Flavor” campaign. The contest called for creative recipe submissions utilizing 505 Southwestern’s Hatch Valley green chile, salsa and sauce products.
“We were blown away by the creativity and surprising flavor combinations in the recipes that we received this year,” said Rob Holland, Executive Chairman of 505 Southwestern. “As we celebrate more than two decades of flavor, it is inspiring to see the way our customers are elevating the everyday with 505 Southwestern products.”
The contest drew in more than 230 submissions of high-quality recipes for everything from traditional enchiladas and green chile stews to cocktails and comfort foods like burgers, macaroni and cheese and desserts. Notable entries include a 505 Southwestern Beef Wellington, Green Chile Fried Ice Cream, 505 Green Chile Peach Cobbler, Green Chile Strawberry Margarita and three different lasagnas.
Recipes featured a variety of 505 Southwestern products including Flame Roasted Green Chile, Red Chile Enchilada Sauce, Pineapple Mango Jalapeno Salsa and both red and green salsas. Bonus points were given to those who used multiple products in a given recipe and for sharing on social media using #25YearsOfFlavor and tagging @505southwestern.
Decided on by a panel of judges, the Grand Prize was awarded to Graham for her recipe Air Fryer Southwestern Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon Rangoons. This quick and easy appetizer features 505 Southwestern Chunky Green Chile Salsa and 505 Southwestern Flame Roasted Green Chile.
Graham will receive $2,500 and a trip to New Mexico this fall for the 505 Southwestern VIP Anniversary Party featuring celebrity chef Aaron May.
“I’m a chile lover and I love the flavor boost that 505 Southwestern salsa and chile gives to my dishes,” said Graham. “When I read the prize was a trip to New Mexico for the 505 Southwestern VIP Party, I just had to enter. I am tickled to have won and to be invited to celebrate 25 Years of Flavor.”
Graham said she has always cooked with a southwestern flair.
“When I first tasted the jar of 505 Southwestern Flame Roasted Green Chile I was surprised, I said, ‘This tastes like me!’ I’ve never said that about a jar of food before, that it tastes like me. But it tasted just like what I love,” she said. “Usually, I will say, ‘it needs more garlic, or more lime juice, or more or less heat.’ It tastes so fresh and has a nice balance of flavors.”
Graham began competing in recipe contests in 2009. The Santa Clarita Valley’s most accomplished amateur chef estimates she has won more than $150,000 in cash and prizes.
Graham started her competitive cooking career with an essay, not a recipe.
“I was looking through a magazine and I saw an opportunity to win a trip to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival,” she said. The contest was sponsored by Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate.
“I had to write a paragraph about how you live ‘green’ without spending too much money,” Graham said. As the child of a tile contractor Graham’s family made extensive use of broken and leftover tile. “I wrote a paragraph on all the things my family did with the tile and I won,” she said.
Graham said the great experiences she had at the June 2009 Aspen Food & Wine Festival made her hungry for more culinary adventures.
“The minute I returned home I turned on my computer to research how to win other contests,” she said.
Graham and her family have lived in the SCV since 1977.
Graham is also a social media food influencer representing products and creating recipes for Primo Grills, Western BBQ Products and Kevin’s Natural Foods.
She also has been tapped to appear on nationally televised cooking shows near the end of 2022 and in 2023.
This year marks 25 years in business for 505 Southwestern. In 1997, local restaurateur Roy Solomon decided to jar his famous green chile and began selling it to his loyal patrons from the back of his restaurant. He quickly realized the potential of 505SW Flame Roasted Green Chile and made the decision to drive to Denver to officially launch his brand. Now 25 years later, the company is thriving, having grown at an average of 20+% annually for 10 consecutive years. The company’s longstanding commitment to New Mexico represents thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of economic impact to the area. The “505” name reflects where it is from, 505 is the area code of Albuquerque, N.M.
As part of the celebration, 505 is donating a portion of sales for 25 weeks to the 505 Southwestern New Mexico True Scholar program, a program that supports future generations of farmers.
Merry Graham’s Grand Prize Winning Air Fryer Southwestern Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon Rangoons
Description: A quick and easy appetizer your tribe will love making together, especially the kids. Rangoons may look fancy and hard to fold but oh my gosh it’s a breeze. Creamy Salsa Verde Corn dotted with smoky bacon, cilantro, and green onions is the base of this addicting filling. And for that added green chile pop a few tablespoons of 505 Southwestern Green Chile has been added. Grab that jar of 505 Southwestern Restaurant Style Salsa too because it makes a delicious dip for this fusion rangoon. And watch out, make plenty, Bacon Rangoons go quick!
1/2 cup 505 Southwestern Chunky Green Chile Salsa
2 tablespoons 505 Southwestern Flame Roasted Green Chile
4 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz Monterey jack cheese or pepper jack cheese, grated
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 green onion, finely chopped, divided
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped, divided
1/4 cup bacon crumbles, or 4 slices of cooked bacon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ear corn, cut kernels from cob, about 1/2 cup
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 package (6 oz) won ton wrappers
1/2 cup 505 Southwestern Medium Restaurant Style Salsa, more if needed.
In a medium bowl, mix 505 Southwestern Chunky Green Chile Salsa, 505 Southwestern Flame Roasted green Chile, cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese, sour cream, 2 tablespoons green onion, 2 tablespoons cilantro, bacon crumbles, and cumin, until well mixed. Set aside.
Toss corn kernels and oil together. Heat a cast iron skillet or skillet of choice over medium-high heat. Scatter corn into a hot skillet, stirring only when needed to prevent burning. Once at least half of the corn is charred, transfer to the bowl with salsa verde and stir until well mixed. Set aside. Tip: Resist salting the corn while charring because the bacon will add enough saltiness.
Place a won ton wrapper on a parchment or sandwich paper lined work surface. Tip: Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornstarch. Keep the remaining won ton wrappers in the package, removing only one at a time.
Place 1/2 tablespoon salsa verde cream cheese filling onto the center of a won ton wrapper. Use a wet finger to moisten the edges of the wrapper with water. Pull two corners that are diagonal from each other to the center, then the other two corners. Press to seal and form a pyramid or parcels.
Fry the Rangoons:
Method 1 Crisp in an Air Fryer:
Spray or brush the outside with oil. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F. Carefully place a single layer of Rangoons on the air fryer rack. Working in batches, cook until the Rangoons are golden and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Method 2 Crisp in Hot Oil:
Heat canola oil, about 3-inches deep, in a medium saucepan, to 350°F to 370°F. Working in single layer batches, fry the Rangoons until golden brown all over, about 4 minutes. Pat dry on a paper towel then quickly move to a cooking rack. In a small serving bowl, mix 505 Southwestern Medium Restaurant Style Salsa, and about 2 tablespoons of green onions and 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Place the salsa bowl in the center of a serving platter lined with shredded cabbage or greens. Right before serving, arrange Salsa Verde Corn and Bacon Rangoons around the salsa. Sprinkle Cotija cheese, cilantro, and green onions, over the entire platter.
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