Game day. No
matter the sport, there are certain key elements that remain essential
for entertaining: Great Friends + Excellent Food + Cold Beer = Perfection.
Of course, having a 60-inch flat screen with surround sound and
comfortable seating for all of your guests always helps.
The fall season
provides ample opportunity for us to share in this tradition. These
days, football isn’t just a weekend sport. Add in a Monday
or Thursday night game, and it seems like I can’t turn on the
television without catching players battling it out on the gridiron.
Basically, right now we’ve got plenty of reasons/excuses to
watch sports and hang out with friends. Life is good.
If you want
to be the MVP amongst the crowd, you’d better bring your A
game in the food department. I know where your thoughts are headed
– game day should be about enjoying the game with friends.
Who really wants to spend all of their time in the kitchen? You
don’t. Me neither.
serving chips and salsa, frozen pizza, and TGI Friday’s frozen
appetizers won’t score you enough points to win in overtime.
With that said, I don’t want to come off sounding like a food
snob. I understand that certain foods should and will always be
game day favorites: wings, pizza, hamburgers, brats, etc. So relax;
I’m not here to break tradition. Instead, I’d like to
offer up one of my favorite foods for game day . . . soup. Yes,
you heard me.
Why soup? I’m
glad you asked. First things first – it’s cold outside.
There’s nothing like a hearty soup served with hot crusty bread
to fight back the chill of autumn. Second – you want to watch
the game. All of these recipes can be prepared well in advance of
kickoff, allowing you to focus your attention on the game while
guests help themselves to your masterpiece. Third – keep it
simple. One pot, a solid knife, a can opener, and a cutting board
are all you will need to tackle (no pun intended) these recipes.
Last – it’s what the players eat – or at least Donovan
McNabb gets paid to do so.
If you still
aren’t sold on the idea, I’ve put together five different
recipes for outstanding soups that span our great nation: a spicy
chili from the Southwest, a satisfying clam chowder from the Northeast,
a fine seafood Cioppino from the West Coast, a rich beer cheese
soup from the Midwest, and finally a hearty gumbo from my neck of
the woods – the Deep South. So, no matter where you are, I’ve
got you covered.
Keep in mind
I do realize the sensitivity of such an endeavor. Regional specialties,
as described above, tend to have very loyal purists and enthusiasts.
In that sense, soup can be a lot like BBQ. Ask ten people on the
proper way to smoke a pork shoulder, and you are very likely to
get ten different – and fiercely debated – responses.
In other words, everyone has their own version or thoughts on the
‘proper’ way to create these classics. So, if you have
a different way of doing things, or perhaps even a signature recipe,
feel free to share in the comments below.
Oh and –
– An all American classic. Omit the ground beef/buffalo and
add in a few extra cans of your favorite beans for a vegan friendly
dish. Pair with a Santa Fe Brewing Co. Pale Ale or a Yazoo Dos Perros
1/4 Cup Canola
1 Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
1.5 lbs 80/20 Ground Beef/Buffalo
2 Tablespoons Chili Powder
1 Tablespoon Cumin Powder
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Cup Dark Beer
1 28 oz Can Tomato Puree
1 28 oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 14 oz Can Black Beans
1 14 oz Can Kidney Beans
Shredded White Cheddar Cheese (topping)
Sour Cream (topping)
Sliced Green Onion Tops (topping)
Preheat a Dutch
oven over medium heat; add oil. Next add onions and saute for 8–10
minutes, or until tender. Add garlic and jalapeno peppers and saute
until just tender, about 2–3 minutes. Add ground meat and seasonings
and cook until meat is just browned through, about 4–5 minutes,
stirring on occasion. Deglaze the pot by adding the beer, scraping
up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a spoon. Finally,
add the remaining ingredients, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer
partially covered for 30–45 minutes. Remove from heat and serve
with desired toppings.
Clam Chowder – a rich and satisfying dish, this soup is
best served with fresh shucked clams. If you don’t have access
to fresh clams, or if you are looking to save time and a few bucks,
go ahead and purchase canned clams. Substitute the clams with fresh
medium sized shrimp if you want a different option. Pair with a
Sam Adams Boston Lager.
1 Stick Butter
½ Cup Flour
1 Large Onion, finely diced
5 Carrots, finely diced
4 Stalks Celery, finely diced
6 Large Russet Potatoes, small dice
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
4 Cups Clam Juice
2 Cups Whole Milk
2–3 Cups Chowder Clams, shucked
in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly
for 2–3 minutes to create a light roux. Next, add onion, carrots,
celery, and potatoes; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.
Add seasonings, followed by the clam juice; stir and bring mixture
to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables
are tender and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Next, add the milk
and clams, allowing the clams to gently cook for a few minutes.
Remove from heat, taste, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.