Cooking up a football feast

(Photo: LaVell Edwards Stadium, Scout.com)

Welcome to THE DRAFT. Each week Jeff Hansen, Garrett McClintock and myself will pick a football adjacent topic and select our top five favorites from that category. After the draft we’ll petition the honest and just people of the internet to determine who won the draft. At the end of the season the writer with the most wins get crowned king of the blog and wins a free chicken sandwich. May the best man win!

Food and football. It’s an unbeatable combination that’s been celebrated since the dawn of time. This week we’re going to draft our best football-related food spreads to see who can cook up the best game day meal. Here is the breakdown of our categories…

Main Dish: The star of the show.
Side Dish: Your chance to spice things up.
Snack: Think chips, crackers, pretzels, trail mix, etc. Something you can munch on throughout the game that isn’t a fully prepared item like wings. Also could be candy, so it’s your choice to go sweet or salty.
Dessert: Where other fans have their brews, we have brownies. This is our domain so there should be plenty of options.
Beverage: Could be a brand name bev or something you make at home. Be sure to be specific as “soda” or “juice” will not be acceptable picks.

Our draft order this week is Jeff, Garrett and then myself. Chef Hansen you are on the clock!

JEFF HANSEN  – 1st Pick

I’m starting with a side dish and only because it can also be a main dish. I’m taking nachos.

Now, I know what people are thinking. Nachos with the first overall pick? Yes. Of course. Nachos can incorporate queso. Nachos can incorporate salsa. Nachos involve a variety of meat from carne asada to pulled pork to chicken. You can make Irish nachos with potato crisps or your regular nachos with tortilla chips. A multitude of cheeses.

Nachos are the best first overall pick that you didn’t expect.

GARRETT MCCLINTOCK – 1st Pick

With nachos off the board I’m turning to another side dish that can be a meal on it’s own: mac and cheese.

A southern staple, it is made for game days. You can make green chili mac and cheese, you can put meat in it if you want to kick it up a notch, you can smoke it, bake it, make it quick in a pot – run of the mill mac and cheese is old faithful, but that’s still the tip of the iceberg. It is thick and calorie dense and provides a solid foundation for the rest of your consumption.

JAKE WELCH – 1st & 2nd Pick

I don’t know about you guys but when I’m watching a game, I need to be mobile. I have to be able to get up, pace around the room during a key 4th down conversion and pace some more after we don’t get it. And if I’m going to be mobile, I need my food to be mobile as well. It’s important to have a plate for the drop zone but I don’t want to be limited to a fork and knife for my food delivery process. That being the case I’m going to go with tacos as my main dish and chicken wings as my side dish. Both are perfect football foods and both allow me to eat with my hands like a degenerate. There might be a lot of meat involved in this meal but at least the tacos throw in some cilantro and onions. Those should provide my daily serving of vegetables. Right? Maybe I need to go check my blood pressure at CVS real quick…

GARRETT MCCLINTOCK – 2nd Pick

For my next pick I’m looking to the snack – and while Jeff claimed nachos, that still leaves variants on the table. I’m taking the king of the dips: guacamole. Chips and guacamole is not just a staple of game day, it is a staple of my diet. You can grab one or two, you can grab a handful and dip away. The bowl can never be too big. It also brings the versatility of not only being a dip, but also providing the functionality as a spread for anything else you may have on hand. I wouldn’t put it on the mac and cheese I made earlier, but if I made my way over to Jeff’s grill in the tailgate lot I would slap some on a burger.

JEFF HANSEN – 2nd & 3rd Pick

Jake definitely stole my next pick by nabbing tacos. I had a lovely paragraph about al pastor that was ready to go and now the world will never know.

I’m now forced to look elsewhere for my main dish. The staples like ribs and brisket come to mind, but I think I’m going to go a different direction and take cheeseburgers. Burgers are somehow a staple of our daily lives, but also, a forgotten food in the backyard BBQ world. We’ve all heard the conversation before:

“What are we grilling today?”

“Oh, just burgers.”

Just burgers?! No. We’re grilling burgers! You can stack them high. You can add bacon. You get onions and cheese. You get a variety of breads. You can add pastrami. You can add so many things to a burger and it’s great. I’m taking burgers because of the versatility.

For my snack I’m going to incorporate pizza into my lineup. I’m taking smoked Cheez-Its. It’s super easy. You put Cheez-Its on a frying pan. You sprinkle your favorite BBQ rub on top. You smoke them for a feel-good amount of time. You enjoy. Trust me, friends. You need this in your football lineup.

GARRETT MCCLINTOCK – 3rd Pick

Jeff went way out to left field with the smoked cheese-its – but I’m bringing it a little closer to home and taking my dessert pick: Floats. Now, one might say this should be “Root Beer” float, and the OG is great, but to be able to provide a grand variety for my guests, I would provide multiple sodas and ice cream flavors for them to choose from (Root beer, Dr Pepper, Orange Soda, Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry ice creams on the spread). Again, I’m sneaking technicalities in here (but Jeff used a picture of TO in a BYU shirt in our last draft) but if somebody just wanted to have a drink of some soda, or perhaps a scoop or two of ice cream sans beverage, who am I to judge?

JAKE WELCH- 3rd & 4th Pick

Since Garrett went with a beverage I feel like I need to pick my beloved Mexican Coke before Jeff tries to steal it. There really isn’t going to be much cohesion with my spread but if I’m going to be eating tacos there is no better pairing than an original Coca Cola that is bottled by our neighbors to the south. They make the stuff with cane sugar and it makes the stuff that much better, especially when paired with spicy foods. It also comes in a glass bottle which is probably a hazard to my health but I’m willing to roll the dice.

I’m going to stick with my mobile food theme and select cookie ice cream sandwiches for my dessert. Have I mentioned that I love eating with my hands? Well I do, and I also love the perfect combination of ice cream and cookies. I was debating between picking one of these but then I realized that the food gods bestowed this creation upon us so we didn’t have to pick a side. This pick honestly feels like cheating but nothing is wrong about ice cream sandwiched between two cookies.

GARRETT MCCLINTOCK – 4rd Pick

Hate to break it to Jake, but Coke stopped using cane sugar in their Mexican bottles a few years ago. The glass still makes a difference though and nobody can convince me otherwise.

Since there’s already a few drinks available as part of my dessert picks, I’m going to punt on the drinks and take my main dish. I grew up in Central California, and while many love a game day brisket, for me and my house, tri-tip is king. You can make a sandwich, you can eat it alone. You can go traditional and serve it with salsa and a side of beans, or you can pair it with whatever else you might like. But the tri-tip is hitting the grill with a gratuitous coat of SPG and will be hitting your taste buds in roughly 50 minutes.

JEFF HANSEN – 4th & 5th Pick

Desserts and Beverages. People would look at me and think that I must pound down chocolate and pie all day, but I really don’t like dessert. I don’t like chocolate at all. I think cake is, largely, gross. This is not my area of expertise all. All of the new pants that I’ve had to purchase as I’ve grown in my old age has been earned with nothing but fat and carbs.

But let’s make a pick with the one dessert that I have a soft spot for: Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The best decision that local grocery stores have ever made is selling pumpkin chocolate chip cookies all year long. I know this pick isn’t going to be the most well-received from the dessert crowd, but I am who I am.

My final pick is beverages and given that this is a BYU themed spread, I’m assuming the three of us are all steering clear of anything alcohol related. So, that leaves us with simple things like soda, juices, milk, water, etc. It’s basic, but we are a peculiar people. I’m going to take fresh lemonade here. You can add various fruit to it and give it some flair, it’s always delicious, and it’s passive enough that you can drink it with just about anything you’re eating and it doesn’t feel out of place.

GARRETT MCCLINTOCK – 5th Pick

I do love a good pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. And I always get sucked in by the grocery store bakery – so I think you’re onto something there.

My last pick is also my beverage, and I’m going to spin Jake’s and say Jarrito’s – the REAL Mexican soda. There are so many flavors to choose from, but like Jeff’s affinity for a fresh lemonade, the Mango Jarrito’s always hits the spot. If somebody else wants to bring Lime or Pineapple, or Tangerine, or any other flavor, I won’t stop them.

JAKE WELCH– 5th Pick

My last pick is Kettle Brand potato chips. They’re easily the best potato chips on the market and their flavors cover all the bases from your standard Sea Salt all the way to Maple Bacon. I once ate a Costco size bag of their chips while watching a BYU basketball game and don’t regret it one bit.

***

OK friends of the internet, who had the best draft? As a refresher, here are the picks for each spread…

JEFF’S PICKS

Main Dish: Burgers
Side Dish: Nachos
Snack: Smoked Cheez-Its
Dessert: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie
Beverage: Lemonade

GARRETT’S PICKS

Main dish: Tri-tip
Side dish: Mac & Cheese
Snack: Chips and Guac
Dessert: Float Assortment
Beverage: Mango Jarrito’s

JAKE’S PICKS

Main Dish: Tacos
Side Dish: Chicken Wings
Snack: Kettle Brand Potato Chips
Dessert: Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich
Beverage: Mexican Coke