Sports fans, you can talk all you want about running backs and quarterbacks, but we all know that football would not be nearly as popular without the game-day food.
They should rename the sport foodball.
For home cooks, recipes from cookbooks, the Internet, and even the back of a can or box can provide inspiration for game-day food.
For Akron, Ohio, resident Cheryl Garcia, the recipe for her Diablo Chicken Chili came from outdoor outfitter L.L. Bean’s catalog. Garcia liked the recipe because while it was made with chicken, it has a spicy red sauce, not a creamy white sauce like so many chicken chili recipes.
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Garcia, her husband David, and a few friends enjoyed the chili ladled over squares of cornbread. Because it’s made with chicken and packed with vegetables, the chili is pretty low-cal compared to beef versions.
The Garcias also started their day with a tailgating breakfast of Chili Rellenos Squares, a recipe Garcia makes with just three ingredients: eggs, cheese and chiles.
One lot away were hardcore tailgaters Tim and Brenda Klinger of Akron and friends. Tim Klinger showed off chafing dishes brimming with chicken and steak for the fajita bar he had set up. “This is the buffet line,” he said.
While everyone pitches in, Klinger is the grillmaster for this group.
Friend Jennifer Saxon of Copley Township, Ohio, marinated the chicken and steak in a mixture of lime juice, tequila, taco sauce and jalapeno peppers.
Klinger’s wife, Brenda, prepared a bowl of black bean salad from a recipe she found in an advertisement for beans. It’s a popular party dish these days. Sometimes called Cowboy Caviar or Texas Caviar, the mix of corn, beans and fresh vegetables is perfect to serve with tortilla chips at any football party.
Loaded Potato Casserole
3 1/2 to 4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
8 slices bacon, cooked, chopped, divided
1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
Place potatoes in saucepan, and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, then drain well.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Transfer potatoes back to the saucepan. Mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk, salt and pepper. Continue mashing until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and half the bacon.
Spoon mixture evenly into a lightly oiled 3-quart casserole dish. Use a spatula or fork to make an irregular surface. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with remaining cheese, bacon and green onions. Bake for 5 more minutes to melt cheese.
Diablo Chicken Chili
1 to 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 to 5 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 green peppers, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1 package (8 ounces) fresh mushrooms
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 stick butter
1 (28 ounces) can tomatoes
1 (28 ounces) can tomato puree
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Brown chicken breasts in hot oil, in large pot with 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon cumin. Set aside. Cube when cool.
In the same pot, saute green peppers, onions, remaining garlic, mushrooms and carrots in butter with 2 teaspoons chili powder and 2 teaspoons cumin.
Add remaining ingredients: chicken, tomatoes, tomato puree, jalapenos, beans and rest of spices. Simmer for 3 hours.
Chiles Rellenos Squares
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
Makes 16 squares.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle chiles and cheese evenly in the bottom of a greased 8-inch square baking pan. Pour eggs over cheese mixture and bake for 60 minutes until firm in center.
Remove from oven and place pan on wire cake rack to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve warm or cold.
Dish may be baked ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
To reheat, bake 15 minutes at 300 degrees.
Black Bean Salad
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 can (16 ounces) corn, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
Freshly ground pepper
Makes 12 servings.
Seed and dice the bell peppers. In a bowl combine peppers, onion, corn, garlic and cilantro. Toss to mix. Add olive oil, vinegar and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add beans and toss well.
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
FOR THE MARINADE:
1/4 cup bottled taco sauce
1 lime, juiced and zested
3 tablespoons tequila
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Put chicken in a gallon zip-close bag, add marinade and coat chicken. Let chicken set in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Grill chicken, slice and serve.