King’s Ransom Wins Meatball Competition


The winner of the Hot Shot Bakery Meatball competition will be staying at the St. Francis Inn.

The winner of the Hot Shot Bakery Meatball competition will be staying at the St. Francis Inn.


Dan LaBrie, who began his competitive cooking about three years ago, is the winner of Hot Shot Bakery’s SWEET & SASSY MEATBALL Contest. He will be coming to St. Augustine Jan. 4 and 5 – staying at the historic .

LaBrie began competitive cooking when he entered a Sunkist recipe contest that he discovered while grocery shopping.  His wife, Mary Kay, began entering contests a year earlier.  While Mary Kay was a contestant in 2010 at the first Regional Beringer Great Steak Challenge in Orlando, Dan got bit by the contest bug and never looked back.   He was a 2nd Runner Up in a Sunkist Recipe contest, and was a Top 10 finalist in the 2011 Beringer Great Steak Challenge.  Dan won a trip to Napa to be on the Cooking Channel for the competition.  Although he did not win, he gained valuable experience, which led him to experiment with many different dishes and enter many more contests.

As an Amateur Home Cook he has also been named as the Grand Prize winner in the 2012 Gnarly Head Rib Recipe Challenge.  The rib recipe was picked to be published in Family Circle’s Top 100 Hometown Recipes Cook Book.  Dan was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Emeril’s Ritz Cracker Recipe contest and a semi-finalist in the 2013 Beringer Great Steak Challenge, the later the same year, was named the Grand Prize winner for the 2013 Santa Rita “Kick It Up A Nacho” contest and a semi-finalist in the Kenwood Winery Pasta Recipe contest last Christmas.  Dan had a slow start entering contests this year, and then this month he was notified that he is a Runner Up in a 2014 Chiquita Banana Week 5 Recipe cooking contest.

 His meatball recipe follows:

 Pirate’s Bounty Meatballs in King’s Ransom Sauce

 Recipe Ingredients:

 For the sauce:

2 cups tomato ketchup

1/2 cup Datil B. Good Second Degree Burn Hot Sauce

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/2 cup molasses

1/3 cup natural honey

2 tablespoons freshly grated sweet onion

2 teaspoons ground Saigon Cinnamon

2 cups sweet Florida red Muscadine wine

For the meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef

12 ounces sweet Italian sausage (about three sausages), casing removed

1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs with Romano cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

2 tbsp. Datil B. Good Hot Datil Pear Relish

2 tbsp. fig preserves

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 sp. onion powder

1 extra large egg

1 tbsp. bottled minced garlic

3 tbsp. olive, canola and grape seed oil blend divided



Combine ketchup, 2nd Degree Burn Sauce, mustard, lime juice, molasses, honey, grated onion (with juices) Saigon cinnamon and sweet red Florida Muscadine wine into a large sauce pot.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, uncovered, at least an hour – longer if you have the time.   Whisk frequently.

 Combine the ground beef, sausage, bread crumbs, grated cheese, Datil B. Good Pear Relish, fig preserves, sea salt, onion powder, egg, and minced garlic.  

Using your hands (suggest cooking gloves) mix the meat with the other meatball ingredients well and form into 12-15 meatballs (about two inches each – larger than a cocktail meatball but smaller than a pasta meatball). 

 Yield 12-15 meatballs.

 Add 2 tbsp. oil to deep skillet.  Heat oil to Med-High.  Add the meatballs in batches and brown on all sides. Add additional tbsp. oil as needed for remaining meatballs.

 Transfer browned meatballs to sauce.  Cover and cook for about 1 hour.  

 Dan LaBrie


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