ou know the feeling: It's just past midday on a beautiful, crisp Sunday. The trees are just starting to turn. You don't have to work, so you've cracked your first beer in anticipation of that glorious ritual, an entire afternoon - and sometimes evening - of meaty sports action. Whether you're planning on having the family or just the guys over to watch the World Series, Monday Night Football, the big UFC fight, or even your favorite soccer team, if you're entertaining on game night, you have to bring the food, and bring it hard.
We all know that cooking for the Big Game (or several smaller ones, even), is a tried and true American rite. Many of us have wonderfully fond memories of plopping down on the couch with our family and friends, popping open a frosty beverage, and gloriously stuffing our faces as the action unfolds on the screen. Or, better still, firing up that charcoal or propane grill at the stadium for some hardcore tailgate action. It's a truly magnificent thing, one that, for many, can border on obsession. And, if you're looking to impress your guests while you get into the game, here are a few suggestions that are sure to earn you a big win.
Game For The Game
Hey, it's called "Game Night," right? So why not forego the standard fare and really make it game night? Your options for taking your sports-fan cookery to the next level are legion. For starters, think about sausages. While we all love a classic hot dog, we'll never say no to some game sausage on a roll with spicy mustard, be it venison and cherry sausage, wild boar, rabbit and ginger, chicken apple, or lamb merguez And you don't even need the roll, either - these game sausages, when sliced and served with toothpicks and a special sauce of your choosing, make excellent little snacks.
Meat, cheese and tortillas is a "match" made in heaven. But there's nothing saying that your quesadillas have to be so simple. We love to ratchet up our recipe by adding roasted or grilled quail to the mix. Simply season four to six semi boneless quail with salt and pepper, grill or roast in the oven until cooked through, then, when they've cooled, pick the meat from the bones. Add the meat, a blend of cheeses, diced onions and some cilantro to a pair of flour tortillas, then press together in a pan until the cheese melts into gooey, game day perfection. Make sure to serve with a side of sour cream, jalapenos, and your favorite chunky salsa for dipping.
When the weather turns frigid, nothing says "Game Day cuisine" like a huge pot of hot, spicy chili. Purists contend that real chili should be meat alone (no beans!), but we're more of a mind that chili can be one of the greatest "kitchen sink" dishes in existence. Have some left over hamburger meat? Ground bison? Scraps of chicken? Toss it in with some hot chile peppers, diced onions, diced tomatoes, dark beer, crushed tortilla chips -- they help thicken your chili so it's not too soupy -- and you're good to go. We love to add some spicy chorizo sausage or tasso ham, as well, to really bring the heat.
One of the most beloved, classic Game Night favorites is a plate of chicken wings. Having a face smeared with spicy, buttery wing sauce is practically a badge of honor for sports enthusiasts. Whether it's chicken, duck, or even turkey, traditional buffalo or exotic Asian flavors, we have some great ideas for wings for you here.
Like chili, nachos present an excellent opportunity for a "kitchen sink" dish. We love ours topped with loads of shredded cheddar and jack cheese (obviously), smoked or grilled peppers, onions, cilantro, and, best of all, meat. Bacon makes an awesome addition to your nachos, as does smoked chicken or smoked duck, strip steak, or perhaps some of that great chorizo you put in your chili. Pile it high; the sky's the limit!