Game-Day Appetizers & Finger Foods

Game day AppetizersGetting ready for the big games this weekend doesn’t just mean cleaning the family room or man-cave, putting out the props and buying a brew or two.  There is quite a bit of prep work involved in planning, shopping and preparing a feast for the hungry, and loud,  masses during the playoff’s.

My favorite food for game-day is not a finger food, unless the guys and gals decide to grab some heavy bread and simply sop hearty chili up with their hands, which is entirely within the lines on game-day.  I don’t cook the chili in the slow-cooker, however, I do keep it warming there during the game so that the cheese added to every new bowl has a chance to melt to perfection.

I don’t have a “favorite” recipe for chili.  I always think I do, and then one comes along I need to try, and without fail, I fall in love and immediately have a new fav to add to the book.  Andrew Zimmern has an outstanding, hearty recipe that remains one of my top five, and may very well end up being your favorite.  This can be made and refrigerated up to three days in advance for easy game-day prep, and served with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, lime wedges, tortilla chips or anything else your football crew desires.

Photograph: Stephanie Meyer for Saveur Magazine
Photograph: Stephanie Meyer for Saveur Magazine

Andrew Zimmern’s Game-Day Pork and Black Bean Chili for Saveur Magazine

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 pounds trimmed pork shoulder, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 poblano chiles—stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/3-inch dice
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (1/4 cup)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup ancho chile powder
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus more for serving
  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1 pound dried black beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 cups dark beer, such as Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale
  • 3 tablespoons corn flour
  • 3 tablespoons water
  1. In a large enameled, cast-iron casserole, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. 
  2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Add the pork to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes. Add the poblanos, onion, chipotles and garlic to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 7 minutes. Add the chile powder, cumin, oregano and minced cilantro and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, beans, chicken stock, beer and cooked bacon and bring to a boil.  
  3. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the beans are just tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Uncover the casserole and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are cooked, 30 to 45 minutes longer.
  4.  In a small bowl, whisk the corn flour with the water until smooth. Slowly whisk the mixture into the chili until incorporated. Season the chili with salt and pepper, garnish with cilantro and serve.

Now for real finger foods ~ When it comes to a huge array of foods or buffet style cuisine, I love simple.  Game-day with your friends, should be just that, time spent with the crowd, watching the game.  I always choose three dips, each with a completely different flavor, so that there are plenty of choices for your guests tastes.  One of my favs is a very easy recipe that takes 15 mins to whip up and 30 mins in the oven. Dip chips, crackers or do what I do, spread it on a toasted bread.

Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Rose Nguyen for Southern Living
Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Rose Nguyen for Southern Living

Southern Living’s Colby-Pepper Jack Cheese Dip

  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) shredded colby-Jack cheese blend
  • 1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chiles
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Garnish: fresh cilantro sprig
  • Tortilla and sweet potato chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients until blended. Spoon cheese mixture into a lightly greased 8-inch square baking dish.  
  2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish, if desired. Serve with tortilla and sweet potato chips.

Baby Back RibsOne of the stellar foods on deck for tomorrows game-day post: Baby Back Ribs and Bloody Mary’s.  So be sure and stop by :)

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