Food Contest Winner's Prize Helps Poor

"I think the grease is ready and I'll just put some in for ya'll," said Delores Griffin as she lowered some Nachitoches meat pies into a pot of hot oil. A small pastry filled with meat, sausage and spices made Griffin a 'OneBigTable' potluck winner in the Nation's Food Bank Network national contest.

The accomplishment began for Griffin by preparing the pies for a local dinner to raise money for the Harvest House, a food bank operated by North Street Church of Christ. Griffin said, "That's what I did it for. I think to raise money for the hungry is a very important thing now to do. There are so many people out there who need food." Friend and sometimes assistant to fying meat pies Betty Edwards said, "We raised $3,400 dollars ourselves. The East Texas Food Bank matched the first thousand and so that made us have $4,400 to buy food for our recipients in Nacogdoches County. So she's really helped us a bunch."

Griffin traveled to Chicago for the nationals. Judges loved her potluck selection. Griffin laughed, "They went back for seconds. Some of them went back for thirds." Griffin is waiting for her prize of $3,000 in cookware. "It's going to be like Christmas, I think," said Griffin.

But Griffin's biggest honor was a dinner prepared by Oprah Winfrey's chef, Art Smith in his home. Griffin pointed to a picture in a photo album. "And this is him. This is his kitchen right there. Served a wonderful meal that night."

Griffin has more winning recipes, but next year she's giving someone else a chance to win a memorable experience.

Delores' Natchitoches Meat Pies

For the filling: 1 1/2 pounds ground pork,1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 1/2 tablespoons flour, 2 medium white onions, minced, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1 cup shallots, minced, 2 tablespoons cold water

For the dough: 4 cups flour, unsifted, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup shortening, melted, 3/4 cup milk, 2 whole eggs, beaten, additional flour for rolling out, oil for frying

1. To make the filling, warm a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and beef and use a fork to break up the meat. Add the salt, black and red peppers, baking powder, flour, onions, garlic and shallots and toss to allow meat to brown. Add the water and stir. Continue cooking until meat is cooked. Pour in a strainer to allow the excess moisture to drain off an set aside to cool.

2. To make the dough, combine the flour, baking powder and salt well in a large bowl. Using a pastry harp or fork, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. Combine the milk and the eggs. Make a hole in the middle of the dough, add the milk and egg mixture and combine quickly with a fork. Use the heel of the hand to create a dough.

3. Flour a board lightly and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1 inch thickness. Use a coffee cup or saucer to stamp out four-inch circles. Use a tablespoon to place a spoonful of meat mixture on one side of the circle. Fold in half to create a half moon shape and crimp the edges with a fork.

4. Warm oil in a big kettle until it is warm enough to cause a pinch of flour to sizzle when added. Gently slide the pies into the hot oil and fry until golden. Turn frequently. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.

Makes about 24 pies.