Football Season Begins: What’s On Your Menu?

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Chicken Wings

Football season officially opened this past Thursday night. For those watching the game at home after work, that probably meant delivery instead of grilling or cooking. Dialing up a game night menu is far easier on “a school night” for most football fans.

Football Season Begins

The opening weekend of football is another story. Grilling enthusiasts everywhere are looking to grill up a feast for their friends and family. Cheering on their favorite team over a delicious meal is the goal for grillers. What we have here are some menu ideas for you to try for your guests. Here is the lineup for your first football party: Wings, Cajun Pasta, BBQ Pork Chops, and Cajun Shrimp served at halftime. As a grill host, it’s advisable to request that your guests bring the desserts or side dishes. This will take the pressure off of your day and allow you to enjoy the game too.

Football Season Starts With Wings

Football tailgate parties must always include wings as the appetizer to start off the feast. It has been a tradition with my guests for over 20 years. The ability to make wings is another skill that takes practice. If you’re going to fry them, there are several guidelines that must be followed:

  • If you’re using a propane fryer, never fry indoors.
  • Always fry between 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Never, EVER put frozen or wet wings in hot oil.
  • Be sure to have a fire extinguisher handy just in case

Which Wings?

Buying wings is easy these days. They come in various size bags, pre-cut, and ready to fry/cook. Since they’re usually frozen, be sure to thaw them completely before frying. You can also buy fresh whole wings and cut them up yourself.

No Fryer? No Problem

Wings can be baked or grilled, which is a much healthier way to go. You also have the option to season the wings before cooking, which can add extra flavor before saucing.

Sauce It Up Baby

There are a lot of wing sauces to choose from when making hot wings. Frank’s is the classic wing sauce to get you that “Buffalo Wing” flavor most people love. If you’d like to change it up a bit, add some Sriracha Sauce for a spicy twist to Frank’s. Using BBQ sauce and Teriyaki sauce are also popular options for those who want something other than Buffalo. Experiment! That’s the best way to find out what tastes good on your wings. Your guests will appreciate the variety too. 

Cajun Pasta

Making Cajun Pasta is very similar to Jambalaya since a lot of the same ingredients are used as a base for this dish. The difference is that you mix all of the Cajun goodness with your favorite pasta before serving. I recommend using mostaccioli or angel hair pasta, but feel free to use your favorite.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 red onions cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1-2 red peppers cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 lb. medium 31-40 count raw shrimp
  • 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 lb. smoked or Andouille sausage cut up
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons Frank’s hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound package of pasta
  • Season to taste with Cajun seasoning, Lawry’s, granulated garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions

Use a large pot or stock pot. Sauté the seasonings with the red pepper and red onion in olive oil until they’re almost soft. Add in the chicken breast and sausage, then simmer 10-15 minutes or until done. Add the shrimp into the pot during the last five minutes, simmering until they’re cooked. You are now ready to create your masterpiece.

Be sure to boil up your favorite pasta and then drain while the Cajun goodness is cooking in your pot. Once done, place the cooked pasta into a large bowl and add in the stick of butter. Next up, take the pot and dump all of the deliciousness onto the pasta in the bowl. Sprinkle in the grated parmesan cheese and Frank’s (optional) hot sauce. Gently stir all of your ingredients making sure to coat everything evenly. If your Cajun pasta seems dry, add in a drizzle of olive oil and some more butter. Your guests will not mind more butter!

BBQ Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 6-8 pork chops
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and black pepper
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Kaiser, Pretzel, or Sandwich Rolls (optional)

It is best to use boneless chops unless you’re a fan of bone-in. Pork chops come several ways at the store, so it’s your call. Most grillers prefer to buy a whole or half pork loin and cut their own. This allows the cook to choose how thick the chops will be for their guests.

One word of caution, grilling chops is an art. It is very easy to overcook pork chops. One inch thick chops can take 5-10 minutes to finish. You will want to follow the Grill Master’s rule of thumb: “If you think they need another minute, take them off the grill!” Allow the chops to rest for 5-10 minutes then cut into the thickest one. If it is done, it’s time to sauce the chops. Return the chops to your grill after slathering on a healthy coating of BBQ sauce. Place the chops away from the coals and cook indirect for 2-3 minutes. This will help caramelize the BBQ sauce and improve the flavor. Serve the chops with the rolls or on their own. Your guests will thoroughly enjoy this as part of their football Sunday!

Halftime = Cajun Shrimp

As if your guests are not already impressed, it’s time to wow them with a halftime treat. In order to make this spicy shrimp dish, you’ll need shrimp that are peeled and de-veined.  The best size to use is a bag of 16-20 count shrimp. 16-20 designates how many shrimp are in a pound. The lower the numbers on the bag, the bigger the shrimp inside. You’ll need to thaw the shrimp and give them a rinse in water. Dry them with paper towels before cooking.

Get a sturdy skillet and drizzle some olive oil into the center, usually enough to coat the bottom. Turn on the flame around medium high, and begin to heat the oil. You then want to add in some minced garlic or freshly chopped garlic to the skillet. Once those start to sizzle, place your shrimp in with the garlic. After putting in the shrimp, season them to taste with Cajun seasoning, pepper, and if you like it hot, some cayenne pepper. Shrimp cook quickly, and need to be turned over after a couple of minutes. Remove them once they’re cooked all the way through. Serve these on a platter for your guests who will definitely be drooling. 

Football Season At Its Best

The upcoming football season will last 17 weeks for your favorite team. If your team is good enough, they may also make the playoffs. We will provide you will several menu ideas throughout the season ahead. The menu suggestions will include some special ones based on the season and holidays. Your guests will certainly enjoy the variety of dishes you provide them during the football season. Now get grilling!

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