Big Game

The Big Game Host’s Guide to Party Food

Sabrina Gornish January 29, 2019

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Last Friday, I was at my local butcher picking up a few things for Shabbat. As I was checking out, the owner handed me a flyer with their premade Big Game menu and said, “Here, share this with your crew, I know you guys celebrate everything.” I laughed as I took it from him because he knows us well; we do like any excuse for a get-together.

But Big Game is my jam, and there is no pre-made food being served here. Big Game parties at our house usually consist of a wide variety of finger foods, appetizer fare, and snacks. It varies from year to year, with new additions and classic favorites, and of course yearly Big Game cookies.

 Last year’s Big Game cookie spread

This year’s menu, among other things, contains two classics and one newly discovered favorite (it made an appearance at New Year’s and has been requested endlessly since). Each is simple and guaranteed to please, and I’m going to tell you how to make them! First up, Pulled BBQ Chicken Nachos!

Since St. Louis is not exactly the center of the “Kosher Food World,” we often make the four-and-a-half-hour drive up to Chicago to get our restaurant fix (and also visit our family, I guess). A few years ago, on a trip to a popular local restaurant, we tried these nachos that made me so happy I needed to recreate them in my own way so we could have them all the time.

The concept is simple, an awesome pulled BBQ chicken recipe, on top of tortilla chips, served with all the fixings. It also lends itself to creativity because you can change up your toppings. For Big Game, I like to set it up as a “nacho bar” so people can make their own plate with their favorites on top.

Pulled BBQ Chicken:

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 1 (small) bottle of bbq sauce (I like to pick a hickory smoked flavor)
  • 1/2 cup of Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Dorot Garlic cube
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  1. Put your chicken in a crock pot or Dutch oven. Mix all the ingredients together and pour over the chicken. If using your crockpot, cook on high for three to four hours or low for six to eight. If using a Dutch oven, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook an hour and a half to two hours.
  2. When done, pull the chicken out and shred (I use the “two fork method”) and put it into a large bowl. Start to ladle sauce into the bowl, mixing as you go, until you get the sauciness ratio you’re looking for. You don’t want to add all the sauce though, because that will lead to soggy chips. No one wants soggy chips.
  3. To serve, start with chip base, then layer chicken and toppings as desired. If I’m making a big platter I always do it in two layers so the chicken and toppings are throughout and everyone gets a little bit of something!

Topping options:

  • Guacamole
  • Parve sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Scallions
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Fried pastrami bits

Next up, corn dog poppers. These are my go-to because they are kid-friendly and delicious, no matter how many I make, there are never any left. They’re way easier to make than typical corndogs, which you can maybe fry two of at a time, and the batter-to-hot dog ratio is far superior (at least I think so). You can use your favorite corn dog recipe if you have one, I use Esty Wolbe’s from Kosher.com. I double the recipe, which makes enough batter for three and a half to four packs of mini hotdogs. (You won’t want to make fewer.)

  1. Mix cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, egg and almond milk (I use soy due to allergies) together in a large bowl and drop all your hotdogs into the batter. Mix them around to evenly coat them.
  2. Heat the oil in your deep fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oil is hot, grab a pair of tongs and start dropping the hot dogs in one at a time. Don’t let the batter drain as you pull them out, you want them nicely coated.Make sure not to overcrowd the fryer too, or they’ll stick together. Fry each one for 3 minutes per side until they’re golden brown and crispy. Sometimes, your corn dog won’t stay flipped over.

My deep fryer doesn’t have the heating element at the bottom so I like to drop the hotdogs in without a basket since I find the batter sticks to the basket. If they don’t stay flipped, I simply throw the basket on top to keep them submerged.

If you don’t have a fryer like mine, you can hold them down with another pair of tongs so the lighter side is submerged in order to get a uniform fry.

Serve them hot out of the fryer with your favorite condiments or, if you make them in advance, warm them in your oven uncovered at 200 degrees Fahrenheit until they re-crisp.

Last, but not least, the new fan-favorite: Peas Love and Carrots’ pull-apart potato flower with a Middle Eastern spiced beef in the center. Danielle’s recipe makes two, so if you plan on serving both at the same time, then double the recipe for the meat. First things first, follow the steps in Danielle’s recipe to make the potato flower. While it’s baking, start making your spiced beef.

Middle Eastern Spiced Beef:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 Dorot Garlic cubes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for four to five minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and spices to the onions and continue to sauté until you start to really smell all the spices.
  3. Add your ground beef, breaking it up as it browns. Cook eight to ten minutes or until the beef is completely cooked through.
  4. Plate your flower and carefully pour the beef into the center. I like to top it with a drizzle of techina, zaatar and pomegranate arils.

Finally, no Big Game buffet of mine is complete without cookies. Every year, I make the two teams and that year’s logo along with a few other “football” themed cookies. My platter this year will have to look a bit different though since, due to some very bitter St. Louisans, I’m forbidden from making Ram’s cookies (ever, but especially in such a year of contention).

Check out my Instagram (@sweettoothstl) on game day to see what I come up with this year and tag me in pics from your game day buffets!