Milton Middle School’s Iron Chef Team, the Chef Jackets, competes at the 10th annual Junior Iron Chef event at the Champlain Valley Expo on Saturday, March 18. (Photo by Harjit Dhaliwal)

It’s another winning year for Milton Middle School’s Junior Iron Chef team, The Chef Jackets.

The team bested its competition for the Lively Local award once again at the 10th annual Junior Iron Chef event, held Saturday, March 18 at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Jct.

The award is given to the team who best uses local ingredients, and the team’s winter vegetable curry, apple raita and homemade naan was full of them.

The dish incorporated fresh butternut squash, parsnips, potatoes and cauliflower, all seasoned with a spicy mix of cumin, chili paste, garlic and ginger with some turmeric for color.

Their raita, a yogurt-based Indian condiment, was flavored with more chili paste, lemon and apples. The dish was served atop a fresh, warm piece of naan, griddled to the perfect golden brown.

This year’s winning chefs were Thomas Young, Brad Stankiewicz, Sean Ryan, Gracie Hoover and Julianna O’Halloran.

Milton chefs haven’t let their fans down: They’ve taken home awards all of the six years competing in the event, which draws more than 200 student-chefs.

The Chef Jackets’ winter vegetable curry is plated and ready for judging at the 10th annual Junior Iron Chef competition at the Champlain Valley Expo on Saturday, March 18. (Photo by Harjit Dhaliwal)

The other middle school team, The Allspice Girls, made a twist on spaghetti and meatballs they called “Pedal to the Meatball,” which included tons of fresh veggies in place of traditional ingredients.

Their meatballs were instead a mix of lentils, onion and spices while the “pasta” was actually potato, processed through a spiralizer, a trendy kitchen appliance. The lot was topped with pesto and steamed butternut squash.

Milton High School’s team, Heller’s Kitchen, made a four-part recipe consisting of vegetable burger sliders on a homemade orange coriander flatbread, topped with sweet maple barbecue sauce and an apple and cabbage slaw.

The contest forces students to think creatively, using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients.

Over the years, nearly 3,000 Vermont students have created original recipes for the contest, the program’s website says.

Earlier this month, Miltonians got to try the winning curry themselves at a community dinner at the elementary school. Also featured was middle-schooler Haley Dupont’s “34-28” chili, which won top honors at Milton Public Library’s chili cook-off in February.

Learn more about Junior Iron Chef at http://vtfeed.org/jrironchefvt.

RECIPE: Winter Vegetable Curry with Apple Raita and Homemade Naan
By The Chef Jackets, Milton Middle School

Ingredients

For the curry

  • 3 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. chili garlic paste
  • 1 2-inch ginger root, grated
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 4 small chiles
  • 1 large onion
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 c. butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 c. parsnips, 1-inch slices
  • 4 red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 c. cauliflower
  • 1 c. cooked chickpeas, juice reserved
  • 3 c. of chickpea liquid
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, diced

For the apple raita

  • 1 c. whole milk yogurt
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/4 tsp. chili garlic paste
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped garlic

For the naan

  • 1/2 oz. dry active yeast
  • 1 c. water at 110 degrees F
  • 1/4 c. sugar 
  • 3 Tbs. milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 c. King Arthur Flour
  • 1/4 c. melted butter

Preparation

Curry

  1. Place sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes.
  2. Add cumin, turmeric, chili garlic paste, ginger and chiles and cook five more minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and chickpea liquid and stir smooth.
  4. Add squash, parsnips and potatoes. Cover and simmer 12 minutes.
  5. Add cauliflower and chickpeas and gently incorporate. Cook five more minutes.
  6. When finished, add cilantro and transfer to bowl and serving platter.

Apple raita
Mix all ingredients in bowl. Check seasoning and set aside.

Naan

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in sugar, milk, egg and salt. Mix well.
  3. Incorporate flour in ½-cup increments to make a soft dough (not too sticky or dry). Knead dough for 6 minutes on lightly floured board. Place dough in clean bowl and cover with towel. Let rise 40 minutes.
  4. Punch dough down, divide into golf ball-size portions and press out into round circles. Let rest 10 minutes. While dough is resting, heat griddle to 350 degrees F.
  5. Lightly grease griddle, and place bread on grill. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Turn and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
  6. Keep warm in warm dish covered with a cloth. Serve with winter curry and apple raita.