Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: Three Menu Ideas for Game Day

The Ultimate Extra-Crispy Double Fried Confit Buffalo Wings

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Here's a fact: I don't like football, but I LOVE snacks. If you're like me, then planning on what you're going to serve during your game day party is the second most exciting part of the game behind the halftime show. Here are three menu ideas to get those juices flowing. Tasty, tasty juices.

Menu 1: The Classic

The Best English Muffin Pepperoni Pizza

We've got all of your classic game day here in its best form. I like to make sure my guests have something to chew on while I do my stuff in the kitchen, so an extra-large batch of this Roasted Tomato Salsa along with some Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole are out on the living room table before they arrive.

Deciding what flavor of gooey, cheesy, dippable stuff you want to go with your game day spread is liking picking a favorite puppy. I'll probably decide last minute between one of the 26 different cheese dip options on this page.

For wings, if time and effort are no object, start with a batch of the Ultimate Extra-Crispy Double Fried Confit Buffalo Wings, delivering the most shatteringly crisp chicken-y crunch you've ever tasted. Or if you prefer to take the easier route, our Really Good Oven-Fried Buffalo Wings are killer.

A bowl of our Best Chili Ever is what you should serve during the half-time show, and if you want to kick the flavor overload into the stratosphere, then back them up with these Totchos (that'd be tater tot nachos).

Finally, the last major game day food group: pizza. Do we go with English Muffin or French Bread? English muffin or French bread? English muffin or...dangit, let's just go with Foolproof Pan Pizza instead.

Menu 2: The Vegan

The Best Vegetarian Bean Chili

Got vegetarian or vegan friends coming over? Or perhaps you're the vegan and you want to make food that even your meat-loving friends will have to admit is seriously delicious? Here's what to do.

Start off with these Crispy Bánh Mè Spring Rolls with Creamy Chili Mayo, and while you've got the fryer working, might as well go with a batch of our Buffalo or Korean Fried Cauliflower. Crispy, crunchy, and full of sauce-catching nooks and crannies.

For your hungrier guests, try out our Vegan Bean Chili, which uses a chili paste in place of powder and combines chopped chickpeas and kidney beans. I once made these Fried Eggplant Sandwiches for a whole lodge-full of hungry, carnivorous skiers, and man, did they ever go down well. And of course, nobody doesn't love pizza. This version uses a combination of potatoes, onions, and rosemary for a ton of comforting flavor in each bite.

And for the side, you'll want to serve up any one of these salsas or guacamoles. Does anyone else here get a little excited every time they remember that guacamole is vegan?

Menu 3: For Meat Lovers

Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

For a dip that eats like a meaty, meaty meal, serve up a hot bowl of our Gooey Cheeseburger Dip, which has all the flavors of a cheeseburger in a convenient, dippable format.

A Texan wouldn't be caught dead with beans in their chili, and our Real Texas Chili con Carne is about as meaty as it gets, made with chunks of tender beef chuck stewed in a mix of four different types of fresh dried chilies.

If you've got a slow cooker, you'll want to use it to put together either these Chicago-Style Italian Beef and Sausage Combos or these Kalua Pork Sandwiches. Both are big in flavor, low in effort.

It's not exactly grilling weather out here in New York, but if you've got the means and the will to do it, these Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas are perfect for a party.

You never need an excuse to eat fried chicken, and when it's in sandwich form, it's the ideal TV-side meal, leaving your other hand free for that beer. Which beer you ask? Oh, how about one of these suggestions?

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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