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Challenging Elements: Cheetos


While dipping a thick slice of bacon into an egg wash and flour, Chef Hosea Rosenberg says one way to get kids to eat their vegetables is to disguise them. Chop onions, celery or carrots up into little pieces and add them to a spaghetti sauce.

Of course, that wasn’t the case at the Balistreri Vineyards in Denver, where the Top Chef winner and owner of Blackbelly Catering took time away from preparing for an event to transform our culinary challenge into an inventive indulgence.

Taking the bacon out of the egg wash, he submerged it into a bowl of Cheetos, the kid-friendly curve ball we threw him 24 hours before preparation. Rosenberg took the dehydrated cheese snack and crushed it up to turn it into breading.

“I thought I’d do something fun,” he said. “Cheetos have such a good crunch, I thought they’d make a good crust. I thought the obvious answer would be chicken, but I wanted to go a little deeper than that, and I’m a big fan of bacon.”

The bacon came fresh from Rosenberg’s farm, as does all the food at Blackbelly Catering. After dropping the Cheetos encrusted slices into the deep fryer for a few minutes, the Taos, N.M., native who now lives in Boulder, put them on slider buns, complete with tomatoes and lettuce. He dipped a knife into a mayonnaise concoction made of crushed Cheetos and sun-dried tomatoes and spread it onto the bread.

The result was a BLT slider complete with that recognizable crunch, sans yellow cheese dust. The savory taste of bacon and cheddar was complemented by the refreshing burst of lettuce and tomato. Adding a sprinkle of sweetness and a touch of tang, the mayonnaise mixture brought it all together. Simply put: one bite had me grinning like Chester the Cheetah. Or, to borrow Rosenberg’s words: “I mean… it’s crunchy cheese, how can you go wrong with that?” Exactly. Cheetos brought out the kid in me, and it’s a throwback to everything I love about childhood: bright colors, cartoons and finger foods.

For information on Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly Catering, visit blackbellycatering.com.

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