Gridiron Grub: Can’t Get Much Wurst

Anyone with internet access or two ears has undoubtedly heard of the recent travesty that  occurred at Penn State University. I will not waste much time discussing the issue on ES. but suffice it to say, it has been an extremely difficult week to spend much time paying attention to football, and particularly being a PSU fan. It’s even harder to add the typical fart jokes you’ve come to expect from ES. Come Saturday though, we’re still looking forward to watching some football.

Trying to think of a relatively simple dish for this week’s football get-together, I remembered I had a voucher for a package of The Original Brat Hans. I don’t normally shill for any specific products but their brats are a tasty guilt-free option for meat-eaters like myself. No antiobiotics, added hormones, preservatives, MSG or nitrates; even the chickens and hogs used are 100% vegetarian-fed. After seeing that voucher I ran to the store to pick some up and had the beginnings of an idea. I pulled out some of my homemade canned chili sauce to make a very typical German food truck dish: Currywurst.


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Gridiron Grub: Bacon and Cheddar Potato Skin Gnocchi

As I watch this manic season of the Philadelphia Eagles, I can’t help but feel frustrated. I guess that’s what happens though: some emotions just come standard with football.

Likewise, some foods are standards. Proven through the test of time, they please any crowd that comes along and can just be relied on. For me, one of the greatest examples of this is potato skins.

Every sports bar has them on the menu. They are so decadent with their gooey cheddar, salty bacon and creamy potato that very few people can resist. Here’s my take on potato skins that are just as tasty, but easier to make for a crowd.

Bacon and Cheddar Potato Skin Gnocchi

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Gridiron Grub: Top 5 Beer Cocktails

This is a tough point in the season for many fans; the excitement of the unknown has been replaced by either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. I’ll admit it, I got cocky before the NFL season started. I believed the hype and  did not expect to be sitting here after Week 7 in the NFL with my Eagles at 2-4.

That means now is as good a time as any to drown your sorrows. If your team is on the upswing, celebrate away. If not, feel free to try some  all of these tasty libations, which make “drinking a cold one” much more exciting for any football foodie.  They’ll make sure you and your guests have a great time no matter what the score is.

1. New Orleans Style Michelada from A Mountain of Crushed Ice

Salty, savory and with just enough kick, this michelada with Peychaud bitters definitely lives up to its Bayou heritage.

 2. The Glazed Doughnut from Sips and Shots

The only thing we can say about this is, why the hell didn’t we think of it first?

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The Endless Road Trip: Philadelphia’s Top 10 Eats 5. Pretzels, Pretzels Everywhere

New York can have its bagels, Chicago its hot dogs, LA its churros and  I will even spot NOLA its delectable beignets. For me, Philly’s signature on-the-go edible blows them all out of the water. I’m not talking about cheesesteaks or even wudder ice, but pretzels.  You can find Philly soft pretzels on just about every corner in the city and everyone has their favorite place to pick them up. The city even has a park named after the doughy treats!

Like any signature city snack, there’s significant debate about which variety is the very best. There are a few different styles you can find, so here’s a crash course for next time you’re in town.

1. Philly Soft Pretzel

This is the traditional version. A slab of pretzels shaped in figure 8s, baked and sold in multiples of twos. Fresh, soft and chewy, there is just the right amount of coarse salt. Walk on by the ones that look moist, as they have been sitting around too long, but just try to resist a batch of these fresh out of the oven. All these beauties need is a squirt of yellow mustard (forget about Grey Poupon). To this day, I am convinced these pretzels actually taste better when they are bought and then wrapped in a brown paper bag, which many mom-and-pop shops provide.

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Gridiron Grub: Polenta Crab Fries

Starting Monday, you’ll hear all about the dining/debauchery that went on when the entire ES crew descended upon Philly for a weekend. To ease us into that, here’s a Gridiron Grub dish inspired by my favorite football-related Philly food stop: Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries.

Chickie and Pete’s is a local restaurant that started in the late 70’s and has grown to include locations in all the city’s stadiums, Philadelphia International Airport, southern New Jersey and more. It sounds like a chain and out-of-towners grow even more perplexed by the fact that these “crab” fries don’t even contain crab. Despite this obvious omission, for locals they are synonymous with hot summer nights watching the Phils and cool fall afternoons with the Eagles. That being said, if you are not from Philly and you saw ES  put up a recipe about sprinkling some Old Bay on french fries, I know we would get even more complaints than we do about our potty mouths. So, here’s my updated take, with some much needed crustacean added in.

Polenta Crab Fries w/Horseradish Cream Sauce

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Gridiron Grub: Grilled Cheese BLT Dip

When I was in high school, we had a tradition every Thursday night before Friday football games.  Myself and a few of my  friends would finish up with practice and show up sweaty and famished at my house. For some reason my Mom not only condoned this, but encouraged it by offering to feed the huddled masses. Dinner was always the same on these nights; grilled cheese with bacon, lettuce and tomato on wheat bread. This tradition has permanently seared in my palate the sweet, smoky combination of late-season tomatoes, gooey cheese, thick bacon and chewy homemade bread as the perfect complement to fall days and Friday night lights.

Grilled cheese is somewhat difficult to pull off at a tailgate and even harder to bring when you are invited somewhere. Can you imagine the reaction to showing up to watch a game with a tray of soggy, lukewarm BLT grilled cheeses? From then on you would definitely be the asshole in charge of bringing the soda and chips. Because of that, I  have tinkered with a homemade grilled cheese/BLT dip over the years. It hits all the right notes, though early in the process I realized that lettuce just wasn’t a good fit so I switched to the dip staple: spinach. This has been my go-to takealong for last-minute tailgates and game-watching.

Grilled Cheese BLT DIP

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Gridiron Grub: Getting Sloppy

It’s official! As I sit down to write this post, summer has ended and by the time you read this, fall will have begin. To be honest, this part of fall is my favorite time of the year. Baseball pennant races are heating up and there is the promise of playoffs fast approaching. College football has been going on for 3 weeks and half the people are already knocked out of my last man standing NFL pools. Every weekend, the morning chill starts warming, right as the tailgate grills begin doing the same.
Those tailgates and house parties call for heartier comfort food, but it is hard to resist the temptation of the last summer produce. That temptation grabbed me when I visited the farmer’s market last weekend and saw some late tomatoes piled high. The tomatoes, and the fact that we are having a bunch of people over to see the Eagles beat the injury-plagued Giants this weekend, made me decide to whip up a batch of Sloppy Joes.
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