Game Day Cooking
What an exciting time of the year, GAME DAY! The Super Bowl is fast arriving and so too are the parties and food planning. The hungriest fan can enjoy all kinds of foods. However, the easiest to eat are often quick to prepare, such as finger foods and vegetables chopped or sliced into small bites. Whether an outdoor tailgate party, or a fancy indoor party, you do not have to work too hard to have a delicious party.
Shrimps and scallops are two of the easiest seafood to make as a finger food. Start by deveining your shrimp, which you can do by taking a knife and cutting the back of the shrimp, then pull out the waste. This is a good time to make a marinade to soak your shrimp in for a few hours before you cook them. A simple marinade can be made of freshly squeezed lime juice, ancho pepper, salt, and pistachio oil is delicious. If you want to make a batter, simply grind up pistachio nuts and mix with panko bread crumbs. Dip your deveined and marinated shrimp into a mixture of egg and milk, then dip into your nut and bread crumb mixture. Finally, dip them into a hot oil to fry. Do not forget to turn over your shrimp so they are equally fried. An aioli of mayonnaise mixed with ancho pepper complements nicely these shrimp.
If you choose to make a seafood platter, try making a chili-lime butter. Fresh lemons slices you can place around your fresh fish selection. Herb and spice butters can also add to your meal. By mixing your favorite herb or spice in with butter, then putting it into the fridge to cool for an hour or so, is the easiest way to create a delicious meal.
Another thought is to make a quick hummus dip. Empty 2 cans of chickpeas, juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, and 1 teaspoon salt into a food processor. Turn it on until the mixture is smooth and creamy. When done, place into a serving dish and serve immediately. Pita chips can be either bought or made by cutting up a pita into eighths and putting them into a 350F oven for five minutes. When crispy, place the pita chips around the hummus dip on a serving platter.
Of course, there are any folk who love to eat grilled ribs. These can be slow cooked in your oven, with the temperature set at 250F, for about 5 hours, if you have a four to six racks of spare ribs to cook. You can select your favorite rub, or try a new one. According to Lang (2010), here are the spice ingredients for a “St. Louis” cut of ribs. First, combine your spices in a bowl.
Use: 3 tablespoons garlic salt; 3 tablespoons light brown sugar; 2 tablespoons paprika; 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper; 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning. Before putting these spices on your ribs, drizzle some water over them. This way the spices will stick to the meat.
Once your ribs are grilled to perfection (in your eyes at least), remove them from the grill and sprinkle them with 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, 4 to 6 tablespoons finely chopped sweet white onion, and your favorite barbeque sauce.
It’s good to keep Purviance’s (2012) top ten smoking tips in mind if you choose to smoke your meat:
#1. Start early: Many of the flavor compounds in smoke are fat and water soluble, which means that whatever you are cooking will absorb smoky flavors best when it is raw. As the surface cooks and dries out, the smoke does not penetrate as well.
#2. Go low and slow (most of the time): Real barbecue is cooked slowly over low, indirect heat- with wood smoke- because that’s a traditional way to make sinewy meats so moist and tender that you hardly need teeth. But don’t miss easy opportunities for adding sweet wood aromas to foods that are grilled over a hot fire for just minutes, like steaks, shrimp and even vegetables.
#3. Regulate the heat with a water pan: Big fluctuations in smoking temperatures can tighten and dry out foods. Whenever you cook for longer than an hour with charcoal, use a pan of water to help stabilize the heat and add some humidity. Obviously a water smoker already has one, but for a charcoal grill, use a large disposable foil pan, and don’t forget to refill it.
#4. Don’t overdo it: The biggest mistake rookies make is adding too much wood, chunk after chunk, to the point where the food tastes bitter. In general, you should smoke food for no longer than half its cooking time. Also, the smoke should flow like a gently stream, not like it is billowing out of a train engine.
#5. White smoke is good; black smoke is bad: Clean streams of whitish smoke can layer your food with the intoxicating scents of smoldering wood. But if your fire lacks enough ventilation, or your food is directly over the fire and the juices are burning, blackish smoke can taint your food or lead to unpleasant surprises when you lift the lid.
#6. Keep the air flowing: Keep the vents on your charcoal grill open, and position the vent on the lid on the side opposite the coals. The open vents will draw smoke from the charcoal and wood below so that it swirls over your food and out the top properly, giving you the best ventilation and the cleanest smoke. If the fire gets too hot, close the top vent almost all the way.
#7. Don’t go golfing: Smoking is a relatively low-maintenance way of cooking – but remain mindful and be safe. Never leave a lit fire unattended, and check the temperature every hour or so. You might need to adjust the vents or add more charcoal.
#8. Try not to peek: Every time you open a grill, you lose heat and smoke – two of the most important elements for making a great meal. Open the lid only when you really need to tend to the fire, the water pan, or the food. Ideally take care of them all at once – and quickly. Otherwise, relax and keep a lid on it.
#9. Let the bark get dark: When smoked properly, ribs and large chunks of beef and port should be enveloped in a dark mahogany, borderline black crust called “bark.” This bark is the consequence of fat and spices sizzling with smoke on the surface of the meat developing into a caramelized crust. So before you take your dinner off the grill or wrap it in foil, make sure you’ve waited long enough for the delicious, dark bark to develop.
#10. Feature the star attraction: The main ingredient in any smoked recipe is like the singer in a rock-and-roll band. Every other flavor should play a supporting role. In other words, don’t upstage something inherently delicious with a potent marinade, heavy-handed seasonings, or thick coast of sauce. Harmonizing flavors in ways that feature the main ingredient is what separates the masters from the masses.
No matter what the main dishes you select to make for your game-day feast, you will need wonderful side dishes to complete your meal. The choices are endless! Coleslaw, potato salad, carrot salad, lentils and rice can be included.
Check these out!
Lampe, Ray. 2008. NFL Gameday Cookbook.
San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, LLC.
Lang, Adam. 2010. BBQ 25.
New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Purviance, Jamie. 2012. Weber’s Smoke.
Palatine, IL: Weber-Stephen Products, LLC.
Schisgal, Zachary. 2006. Men’s Health Presents A Man, A Can, A Tailgate Plan.
Mexico: Rodale Inc.
Siu, George. 2008. Memphis Blues Barbecue House: Bringin’ Southern BBQ Home.
Vancouver, BC: Whitecap Books.
Thompson, Fred. 2007. Barbecue Nation: 350 Hot-Off-The-Grill, Tried-And-True Recipes From
America’s Backyard. Newtown, CT: The Taunton Press, Inc.
Williams, Reece. 2003. The Ultimate Turkey Fryer.
Des Moines, IA: Merideth Press.