NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Game Day Menu

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Slowly cooking the ribs. Photo by Bryan Oakley

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round has four games this weekend. It is definitely time to turn up the tailgate festivities a couple of notches for your guests. If you are looking for that perfect menu, we have you covered. We have our incredible Baby Back Ribs, Spicy & Dirty Rice, and Cajun Mushrooms. This tripleheader of deliciousness is the perfect menu for the NFL Playoffs Divisional Round.

The NFL Playoffs Divisional Round games schedule has two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. The games and times are listed below. Be sure to click the links to view the team’s pages over at Last Word On NFL for more details.

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Sunday

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Menu

This NFL Season we have brought you a tasty Game Day Menu every week except one when we paused to cover the pandemic related hunger crisis in America. Over the course of the NFL season, we left off one of our favorite grilling items, baby back ribs. We intentionally saved our baby back ribs for the NFL Playoffs Divisional Round. It is at this point in the NFL Playoffs that you need to bring your best for your guests.

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round Menu – Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are the preferred type of ribs with most grillers. When done right, they are incredibly flavorful, juicy, and tender. To get the perfect ribs, you need to follow our favorite grilling method called indirect grilling. This is a method of grilling everyone enjoys using while cooking larger cuts of meat like roasts, ribs, pork shoulders, whole chickens, or turkeys, to name a few. Indirect grilling works great when using wood chips to smoke your meat for extra flavor.

Three Zone Method

We are suggesting the three-zone method of indirect grilling which involves placing charcoal briquettes on both sides of the grill leaving the center zone open. This method works great when grilling baby back ribs using the stacked formation. Place 20-25 briquettes on both sides of the grill and light them up. Once the coals are ready, the ribs will be stacked in a pile of two to three racks down the middle of the grill between the coals. You will also be adding hickory wood chips soaked in water to both sides of the grill to get the great smoked flavor. Grilling time for the ribs will run 5-6 hours which includes time to re-coal the grill.

Rib Rub

The rib rub is also a big part of the success today. The perfect rib rub combined with the hickory smoke and BBQ sauce is what delivers the incredible flavor to the ribs. Getting them juicy and tender is on the griller to follow directions.

To make your rib rub combine the following ingredients in a bowl and mix them all: Taste the rub as you go until you get the desired flavor and spice.

  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • black pepper
  • Cajun spice
  • paprika
  • 1 cup brown sugar

You may also invest in a premade rub instead of creating your own. You can order either Burnt Finger’s BBQ’s Smokey KC Barbecue Seasoning or Obie Cue’s Sweet Rub BBQ Spice online. Both are incredibly delicious and work well on ribs, chicken, beef, and all pork. Just because you use a premade rub, don’t forget to add the brown sugar to the rub mix. Also, be sure to have honey on hand for drizzling once the ribs hit the grill.

Ribs Prep

Once your rub is ready, it’s time to prep the ribs. You will need to remove the membrane from the backside of the ribs. The easiest way is to take a knife and start prying up the membrane at the smallest end of the ribs. Once you have it started, take a paper towel and grab the membrane while pulling it toward the larger end of the ribs. It takes practice, but once you master it, you will have no problem getting it off in one piece.

After removing the membranes, place the ribs in a large foil pan. Next up take the rub mix and sprinkle it on both sides of the rack. Be sure to rub it in as you go along. Do the same with the other racks of ribs until they’re all seasoned. If you have any extra rub, save it until the ribs are going on the grill.

Grilling Time

When the ribs are fully seasoned, light the grill using the three-zone method as described earlier. You will be following the Grill Master’s 3-2-1 method for your ribs. This method describes the time involved in the steps to perfection. Three hours smoking, shuffling, and drizzling honey. Then two hours in a foil-wrapped nap followed by one-hour shuffling and saucing. You may need to adjust your hours involved for each step due to cold temperatures and dampness outside.

Slowly cooking the ribs. Photo by Bryan Oakley

When the charcoal on both sides of the grill is ready, add several pieces of your soaked hickory wood chips to the top of the coals. Replace the grate making sure to place the two handles over the coals to allow for wood chips later. Place one rack of ribs on the grill, and take the honey and drizzle it on the top of the ribs. Take any extra rub mix you have and sprinkle some of it onto the honey drizzled ribs. Do the same with the next 1-2 racks of ribs, drizzling honey and sprinkling the rub mix. Place on the grill lid leaving the vent halfway open directly above one end of the ribs. You will see and smell delicious hickory smoke rising out of the vent after a few minutes.

Smoke Time

Allow the ribs to smoke for 20-25 minutes, then “shuffle the ribs” and add more chips if needed. Do this every 20-25 minutes, shuffling the ribs to get an even smoke flavor. The ribs should cook for about three hours so you may need to add additional coals to keep up the heat level.

Ribs here are ready to be wrapped in foil. Photo by Bryan Oakley
Ribs Foil Nap Time

The next step in making successful ribs is called the foil nap. You will need a large foil pan and some wide heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a layer of foil on the bottom of the pan from end-to-end. Take the ribs off of the grill and stack them on the foil in the pan. Once you have the ribs stacked, fold the foil around the ribs sealing them up for their nap. You may need a second piece of foil to do the job right. Carefully place the foil package of ribs back onto the grill and add 10-15 more charcoal briquettes to each side. Once those coals catch, close the lid on the grill.

Wrap the ribs up tight in foil. Photo by Bryan Oakley

After 45-60 minutes, remove the ribs pouch from the grill and place it into your large foil pan. It is now time to sauce your ribs using your favorite BBB sauce. Gently place a rack onto the grill and sauce them up on both sides. Do this with each rack as you stack them up again.

Close the lid and let them grill for 10-15 minutes. You will once again do the rib shuffle adding more sauce as you go. Repeat this until all of your racks have spent time at the top of the stack. Remove them and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. These incredible ribs should be tender and juicy and almost falling off the bone. When serving, racks can be cut into thirds, halves, or individual ribs depending on how many people you are feeding.

NFL Playoffs Divisional Round – Spicy & Dirty Rice

We chose Spicy & Dirty Rice to go alongside the baby back ribs because of how simple it is to make. We recommend you use the best dirty rice mix around Zatarains. They offer numerous boxed side dishes, but their dirty rice is by far the best. Today we are using it to create our Spicy & Dirty Rice, which your guests will love!

Instead of using the usual boring ground beef, switch it up with Hot Italian sausage. This choice will require a warning to your wimpier guests who may find it a bit too spicy for their tender palates. You can find Hot Italian sausage in bulk or even frozen in one pound tubes. For every one package of dirty rice, you will need one pound of Hot Italian sausage. Follow the directions on the package using Hot Italian sausage and serve alongside your ribs and Cajun Mushrooms. It is on you if you want to warn the guests who do not like spicy things. You can always apologize as they are guzzling water to cool off their palates. Or, toss them an ice cube as you walk away giggling.

An excellent side with ribs, dirty rice with spice. Photo by Bryan Oakley

Grilled Cajun Mushrooms

These zesty mushrooms make a great side dish with this menu. They have the perfect kick to bring up the spice level for your guests. If you prefer less spice, eliminate the cayenne pepper, and use only the Lawry’s and black pepper. Either way, grilled Cajun Mushrooms are so much better than ones sauteed in a skillet.

Ingredients

  • white mushrooms or baby portobello mushrooms
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • Cajun spice
  • cayenne pepper (optional)
  • chili powder (optional)
  • cumin

Take the mushrooms and give them a good rinse under cold water, then snip off the end of the stems. Air dry or paper towel dry the mushrooms. For easy cleanup, place the dried mushrooms in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Drizzle in enough olive oil to coat the mushrooms thoroughly, then sprinkle in the desired seasonings, and close the baggie. Shake the mushrooms until they are all coated in the seasonings.

Grilled mushrooms to complete the dish. Photo by Bryan Oakley
Grill Time

Place the mushrooms over the coals while the ribs are taking their foil nap. Turn them every 5-10 minutes so that they finish with a char and a slight crust on them. This usually takes 25-30 minutes total, so be sure not to overcook them! 

Ribs, mushrooms, and rice. Time to recline and watch a weekend of games. Photo by Bryan Oakley

NFL GameDay Menus 2020-21

This NFL season has not been easy for those of us who host weekly football viewing parties. No matter how many people you plan on hosting, we will be bringing you delicious menu ideas each week this season and into the NFL Playoffs. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging again, let’s be safe people! Reduce your guest list to a safe number, be sure to maintain social distancing, and use curbside pickup whenever possible!

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