Gridiron Glory

NFL and college football season is just around the corner, meaning game-day patrons will be seeking out sports bars to cheer on their favorite team while enjoying the fun, competitive atmosphere. It’s important you embrace this sports camaraderie at your establishment. After all, people love watching the game, but they also love noshing on sports-day fare, including comfort-food favorites, braised meats, hamburgers and sandwiches. While your patrons are sipping on a beer or cocktails, offer them some game-day food that will score at your establishment every time.

Created by Q-BBQ owner Michael LaPidus for Q-BBQ in La Grange, Ill.

½ oz. olive pomace oil 

¼ tsp. garlic, minced

¼ cup white wine

1½ cups milk

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. white pepper

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 oz. corn starch

1/8 cup cold water

4 oz. Velveeta

5 oz. cheddar, shredded

3 oz. gouda

1 cup crushed Cheez-Its

Stir constantly. Combine garlic and white wine in a large stockpot and reduce by half. Add milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and bring to a boil
. Add cornstarch and cold-water mixture and boil for 2 minutes. 
Reduce to low heat
, and add Velveeta, gouda and cheddar cheeses
. Simmer for 20 minutes
. Top with crushed Cheez-Its.

Braised Short Rib
Courtesy of Chef David Dworshak from Carnivale in Chicago.
Yield: 4 servings

4 10 oz. beef short ribs
6 carrots, peeled
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups red wine
2 quarts beef stock
1 can tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tamarind paste
1 cup soy sauce
½ habanero pepper
6 each allspice berries
1 bunch thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Three Sisters Garden coarse polenta with sharp cheddar
Reserved braised carrots, chopped
8 pieces picked okra
2 tbsp. candied cashews, chopped

Season beef with salt and pepper, sear on all sides in a heavy bottom pot, sauté veggies until caramelized and deglaze with red wine. Add remaining ingredients, finishing with carrots on top. Bring to a simmer, cover with paper and slowly cook until tender, for about 3 hours. Strain and reduce sauce. Dice carrots for garnish. Serve with cheese polenta or mashed potatoes, pickled okra and candied cashews.

California Chicken SliderCalifornia Chicken Slider
Recipe courtesy of Ashwani Dhawan, owner Slider Bar Café in Palo Alto, Calif.
Yield: 20 sliders

Chicken patties*
Chipotle aioli*
20 9-grain slider buns
Lettuce leaves, as needed
20 tomato slices
4 fresh California avocados, sliced thin

*Chicken Patties
Yield: 3lbs. 3 oz.

3 lb. chicken thigh meat
2 tbsp. garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. Indian masala spice
2 tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. salt

Combine all patty ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Portion out into 20 2½-ounce patties. Cook patties on a preheated grill until cooked through completely.

*Chipotle Aioli
Yield: 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp. canned chipotle peppers, pureed
1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Set aside.

Spread 1 scant tablespoon of chipotle aioli on the bottom of each 9-grain bun. Place cooked chicken patty, lettuce leaf and tomato slice on the bottom bun. Top with about three slices of avocado. Cover with bun top and serve.

Forest BurgerThe Forest Burger
Courtesy of Chef Jason Petrie of Revolution Brewing Company in Chicago.
Yield: 24 servings

15 lb. ground beef
2 lb. white button mushrooms
1 12-oz. bottle mild ale (such as Revolution’s Workingman Mild)
3 lb. thinly sliced shallots
3 lb. gorgonzola cheese
24 poppy seed hamburger buns
Seasoned batter, as needed for shallots
Vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Season the beef with salt and pepper and form it into 10-ounce patties. Refrigerate. Sauté the mushrooms in a large pan with the ale until tender. Season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until needed. For each serving, to order: Grill one burger to desired temperature. Reheat 2-ounce mushrooms in a small pan. Coat 2-ounce shallots in batter and deep fry until golden and crisp. Brush one bun with oil and heat it on a flat-top until lightly crisp. Layer the bottom of the bun with the mushrooms, and then add the burger. Top with 2 ounces of gorgonzola, then the shallots. Finish with the top of the bun and serve immediately.

Brazilian Feijoada
On the menu at Texas de Brazil in Dallas.

1 lb. dried black beans, sorted and washed
½ lb. beef cut in 1-in.-by-1-in. cubes
6 oz. smoked bacon cut in cubes
½ lb. chorizo
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
1 small malagueta pepper (optional) or any other small chili pepper
Water and salt to taste

Over medium, in a heavy bottomed pot bring together the oil, meat, bacon and sausage. Sauté until the meat is brown. Add the garlic, malagueta, bay leaf and onion, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the black beans and enough water to cover the beans plus 2 inches. Simmer the feijoada for about an hour until the beans are soft and sauce is thick. Add salt and more water if sauce is too thick. Serve over white rice.

GranQueso Ham PaniniGranQueso and Serrano Ham Panini
By Chef John Hogan of Keefer’s Restaurant in Chicago.
Yield: 1 sandwich

1½ oz. flat ciabatta bun, sliced lengthwise
3 thin slices Serrano ham
2 thin slices GranQueso
Extra virgin olive oil
Spanish tapenade*

*Spanish tapenade
10 pitted Spanish black olives
4 piquillo peppers
½ tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon confit or lemon zest
3 oz. slivered almonds
1 tsp. aleppo pepper
3 tbsp. flat parsley, leaves only
4 oz. extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper and Tabasco to taste

In a food processor, add ingredients for tapenade. Pulse to a medium chop texture.

Preheat panini press. To assemble panini, place ham on bottom half of bread and top with cheese. Generously spread tapenade on cheese, and top with bread. Brush the sides of bread with oil. Place on panini machine and press for 2 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Braised beef short rib sandwichBraised Beef Short Rib Sandwich
Courtesy of Tory Miller, Chef/Owner of L’Etoile Restaurant in Madison, Wis.
Yield: 20 sandwiches

Short Ribs:
5 lb. beef short rib on the bone
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 medium onion
1 head garlic, minced
*Bouquet Garni Sachet
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
2 tbsp. tomato paste
8 cups of low salt beef stock or broth
20 sandwich rolls of choice, split and grilled
1–2 lb. wheel Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Les Frères, thinly sliced
Canola oil
Salt and pepper

In a heavy bottomed pan (large enough to hold at least 2 quarts of liquid), add enough canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat. Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Add meat to pan, brown on all sides and remove from the pan. Drain all the fat except 1 tablespoon from the pan. Add carrots, celery and onions. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, bouquet garni sachet and wine; reduce the mixture by half. Add tomato paste and beef stock. Return the meat to the pan and bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 3 hours or until the meat is fork-tender. Discard sachet. Remove the meat from the pan, place on a cutting board and pull apart with a fork to discard bones; place meat in a large bowl. Strain liquid into a pan, bring to a simmer and reduce by half. Pour reduced liquid over meat.

*For the Bouquet Garni Sachet, wrap herb stems, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of peppercorns in a small amount of cheesecloth and tie with butcher's twine.

Pickled Onions:
1 red onion, sliced (1/4 to 1/8 inch thick)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 tbsp. salt

In a small saucepan, add red-wine vinegar, sugar and water. Bring to a boil. In a bowl with a cover, add onions and vinegar mixture. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2 tbsp. butter
½ lb. mushrooms of choice, sliced
Salt and pepper

In a small frying pan, add butter and melt. Add mushrooms and stir to sauté. Add to short rib mixture.

On serving plates, divide meat mixture evenly among bottom halves of rolls. Next divide onion mixture over the meat. Add 2 slices of Les Frères cheese per sandwich. Top with buns and serve immediately.