If you believe the tales of tipsy folks, tailgating and brats were practically made for each other.
At the first ever college football game, the story goes, spectators spent their pre-kickoff time grilling sausages at the “tail-end” of a horse.
Did that really happen? Who knows? Personally, we’d prefer to enjoy our grilled meats and lagers a safe distance away from the possibility of getting kicked in the face by a 900-pound brute animal.
But regardless of when the practice stuck, it’s hard to argue that the tradition of football tailgating and devouring casing-laden beef and pork has long gone unchanged. These days, we’ve traded in the horses for Dodge Rams and the fire pits for electric generators, but at most tailgates across the country, you still can’t throw a red Solo cup without hitting a hot dog of sorts — along with the other staples of burgers, chili, wings and beer.
But if pigskin can evolve — helmets are, uh, required now — so can the pre-party. Since American football is no longer exclusively the product of the 50 states, why not add some international punch to the food and drink lineup? It’s possible to sling surprising, even sophisticated parking lot provisions without the headache for you or the eye roll from the guy wearing horns for a hat. This grub can be made in mass, easily transported and reheated to perfection. And crowds will dig it.
Hey, no one loves a good brat and beer like us. But sometimes it’s nice to have an option play.
Green Chile Chicken Tamales
Makes about 26.
Note: Plan ahead for this recipe as the husks need to soak several hours or overnight. Dried corn husks can be found at many convenience and grocery stores, including Cub Foods. The chicken can be roasted whole at home, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken can be used. Serrano chiles pack a lot of heat. For a spicier filling/sauce with these, leave in some of the seeds and veins; for a less spicy version, remove them. The sauce and filling can be made a day ahead if desired. Adapted from Bon Appétit.
For the filling:
• 1 (8-oz.) pkg. dried corn husks (see Note)
• 1 1/2 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
• 3 to 4 serrano chilies, stemmed and chopped (see Note)
• 3 to 4 garlic cloves, depending on size and garlic flavor desired
• 4 c. roasted chicken that has been shredded with 2 forks
• 2/3 c. fresh cilantro, destemmed and coarsely chopped
• Juice of 1/2 lime
• Salt to taste
For the dough:
• 1 1/3 c. lard or solid vegetable shortening
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 4 c. corn masa flour
• About 2 c. chicken broth
Place husks in large pot or large bowl; add water to cover. Place heavy plate on husks to keep submerged. Let stand until husks soften, turning occasionally, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
For the filling: Preheat broiler. Line heavy baking sheet with foil. Arrange the tomatillos on a prepared sheet. Broil until they blacken in spots, turning once, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the tomatillos and any juices on sheet to a blender or food processor. While the juices are still hot, add the chiles, garlic and lime to the processor, and blend well. Season with salt. The sauce should thickly coat a spoon. Set aside half of the sauce; mix the other half with the chicken and cilantro. Cover and chill.
For the dough and assembly: Using an electric mixer, beat the lard or shortening, salt and baking powder in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the masa flour in 4 additions. Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups broth, forming tender dough. If dough seems firm, beat in more broth, 2 tablespoons at a time, to soften. The consistency should be like that of soft mashed potatoes.
Fill bottom of a steamer with enough water to reach bottom of insert. Line the steamer bottom with softened corn husks. Tear 3 large husks into 1/4-inch-wide strips to use as ties and set aside.
Open 2 large husks on your work surface and spread 1/4 cup dough in a 4-inch square in center of each, leaving 2- to 3-inch plain border at narrow end of husk. Spoon a heaping tablespoon filling in strip down center of each dough square. Fold long sides of husk and dough over filling to cover. Fold up the narrow end of husk and tie the folded portion with strip of husk to secure, leaving the wide end of tamale open. Place the tamales in the steamer. Repeat with more husks, dough and filling until all filling has been used. If necessary to keep tamales upright in steamer, insert pieces of crumpled foil between them.
Bring the water in pot to boil, then cover the pot and steam tamales until the dough is firm to touch and separates easily from the husk, adding more water to the pot as necessary, about 45 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per each of 26:
Calories 210 Fat 13 g Sodium 255 mg
Carbohydrates 15 g Saturated fat 5 g Total sugars 1 mg
Protein 8 g Cholesterol 30 mg Dietary fiber 2 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 carb, 1 lean protein, 2 fat.
Thai Meatball Lettuce Wraps
Makes about 20 wraps.
Note: For spicier meatballs, leave in some jalapeño seeds and veins; for less spicy meatballs, remove them. From Amelia Rayno.
• 1 lb. ground pork or beef
• 1/2 c. fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
• 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
• 1 large shallot, diced
• 1 large jalapeño, diced
• 2 tbsp. fish sauce
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 head bibb lettuce, torn into cups
• Sweet chili sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine ground meat, mint, cilantro, shallot, jalapeño, fish sauce, olive oil, ginger and garlic; mix well.
Form into balls 1 to 1 1/2-inch in diameter and place on an oven-safe grill pan (for crispier meatballs) or in a glass baking dish, and bake until brown on all sides, turning once, about 20 minutes. When cool, place 1 meatball in each lettuce cup. Drizzle with some sweet chili sauce, and serve.
Nutrition information per each of 20:
Calories 95 Fat 5 g Sodium 290 mg
Carbohydrates 9 g Saturated fat 1 g Total sugars 0 mg
Protein 5 g Cholesterol 15 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: ½ carb, ½ high-fat meat.
West Indian Lamb Curry
Serves 6 to 8 large servings.
Note: The lamb can be replaced easily by beef, if desired. Many stores sell boneless chunks of meat in the perfect size for this recipe, specifically for stews. From Melissa Clark of the New York Times.
• 3 lb. boneless lamb meat, cut into 2-in. chunks
• 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. curry powder, divided
• 1 tbsp. salt, plus more to taste if necessary
• 1 tsp. ground ginger
• 1 tsp. black pepper
• 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
• 2 green onions, roughly chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
• 1/2 in. fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
• 4 whole dried allspice berries
• 2 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
• 4 tbsp. olive oil, more as needed
•1 1/2 c. diced potato, uncooked
•1 c. diced carrots, uncooked
• 1 to 2 scotch bonnet peppers (use habaneros in a pinch)
• Cooked white rice or coconut rice, for serving
• Lime wedges, for serving
• Mango chutney or mango pickle, for serving
• Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving
Pat lamb dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon curry powder, the salt, the ground ginger and the black pepper; mix together. Add spice mix to large bowl and toss with lamb.
Combine onion, green onion, garlic, fresh ginger, allspice, thyme leaves and 2 tablespoons oil in a blender; purée until smooth. Scrape mixture over lamb and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in 2 teaspoons curry powder and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, brown the meat on all sides. Drizzle in additional oil, if needed, to prevent meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Transfer browned meat to a plate as it browns. Once all the meat has been browned, return it to the pot, along with any juices on the plate. Add enough water to just cover meat. Bring liquid to a simmer, covered, then uncover the pot and cook gently for 45 minutes.
Stir potato, carrot and pepper into pot. Simmer until vegetables are fork-tender and meat is cooked through, about 30 to 45 minutes longer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat and vegetables to a bowl. Simmer cooking liquid until it has reduced and thickened to a saucy consistency (to taste), about 15 minutes. Taste sauce and add more salt if needed.
Pour sauce over meat. Serve over rice, topped with a squeeze of lime, a dollop of mango chutney or pickle and fresh cilantro.
Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:
Calories 320 Fat 16 g Sodium 970 mg
Carbohydrates 11 g Saturated fat 4 g Total sugars 2 mg
Protein 30 g Cholesterol 95 mg Dietary fiber 2 g
Exchanges per serving: 1 carb, 4 lean protein, 1 ½ fat.
Grapefruit Cardamom Beer Punch
Note: Plan ahead as the drink must marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. For a sweeter or less sweet drink, tweak the simple syrup. Simple syrups can be purchased at grocery and liquor stores or made by combining equal parts water and sugar and heating until the sugar is dissolved; cool before using. For a less boozy drink, the gin can be omitted. From Amelia Rayno.
• 5 c. grapefruit juice
• 2 c. gin
• 12 dried cardamom pods, pounded with a mortar and pestle until fragrant
• 3/4 c. simple syrup (see Note)
• 5 c. beer
• 1 to 2 pink grapefruits, cut into slices, for garnishes
Mix together the juice, gin, cardamom and syrup; allow the flavors to infuse, at least 2 hours or overnight. Top with the beer, just before serving, and garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 210 Fat 0 g Sodium 5 mg
Carbohydrates 24 g Saturated fat 0 g Total sugars 16 mg
Protein 1 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 1 g
No diabetic exchanges.