Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Gridiron Cookery" & "Gourmet Game Night" - Chili and Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip - Super Bowl 51

Date I made this recipe:  Sunday, February 5, 2017 – Super Bowl 51

Gridiron Cookery – The nation's most resourceful hostesses – the wives of football coaches – skilled at taming (and feeding) victory-mad mobs – or reviving a few low-spirited losers – break out 250 and more of their treasured recipes for wonderful food – Edited by Frances S. Daugherty and Aileen C. Brothers
Published by David McKay Company, Inc.
© 1960
Purchased at Barnes and Noble (Used) for a whopping dollar!
Recipe:  Chili – recipe submitted by Mrs. W. W. (Woody) Hayes, [The] Ohio State University – p. 75

Gourmet Game Nightbite-sized, mess-free eating for board-game parties, bridge clubs, poker nights, book groups, and more by Cynthia Nims
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 978-1-58008-088-0; © 2010
Purchased at Powell's Chicago
Recipe: Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip – p. 22-23

Okay then, the Super Bowl was played two weeks ago, and I am obviously behind on all my reporting, but I am happy to say that I managed to make some awesome dishes for the big day (or any day, really):  Chili (what football game would be complete without chili) and Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip.  Think "back-to-back" touchdowns."

And of course, the winning recipes came from two winning cookbooks, one old and one new:  Gridiron Cookery, published in 1960, and Gourmet Game Night, published in 2010.  Both books need a bit of explanation and so let's get right to it.

I've heard the term "gridiron" my whole life, usually in the context about talking about college football, but didn't really know what it meant until now.  According to Google, a "gridiron" is a "field for football, marked with regularly spaced parallel lines."  Please file this away for future use.

Gridiron Cookery is a compilation of recipes submitted by (primarily) college coaches' wives, all of whom are referred to in the book as Mrs. [insert husband's first name here] Coaches' Wife, for example  "Mrs. W. W. "Woody" Hayes, [The] Ohio State University," or "Mrs. Hugh Duffy Daugherty, Michigan State University."

This rankles.  Look, I know this was a sign of the [1960's] times, but 160 women submitted recipes for this book and not a one of them was listed by her first name/given name.  Not a one.  And here's a little tidbit of interest:  back then, and for many, many years later, the only time you ever learned that a woman had a first name was when she was widowed or divorced (gasp!) in which case she went by Mrs. Betty Jones.  Ridiculous!

At any rate, so coaches' wives from all over the U.S. and Canada (with a smattering from NFL coaches' wives] submitted recipes and you would think that a book about the college gridiron would feature some of the more prominent football schools but you would be wrong.  As a for instance, and please shout out if you recognize these teams from a Bowl Game appearance:  Furman University; Ferris Institute; The College of the Holy Cross; Springfield College, and Susquehanna University

You can't, can you?  No worries, reader, because neither can I.  I have never heard of any of these colleges much less of the prowess of their football teams.

On the other hand, I am well acquainted with these college football powerhouses: 
  • University of Alabama coached by Paul (Bear) Bryant, with recipe submitted by Mrs. Paul Bryant, no first name given!
  • University of Mississippi (a/k/a "Ole Miss" and by the way, "ole" is not the Spanish "ole" but rather "old" as in "Old Miss.")
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of  Wisconsin
  • University of Michigan (Patriot's quarterback, Tom Brady, is an alum)
  • Michigan State University
  • [The] Ohio State University coached by Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes

And this is just a short list! 

Other interesting cookbook tidbits:
  • Today's Super Bowl battle pitted University of Michigan graduate, Tom Brady, against Boston College graduate, Matt Ryan but only the University of Michigan was featured in this cookbook.  Hmmm...foreshadowing of the game results? (Hint:  Matt Ryan got creamed.)
  • The proper way to talk about Ohio State University is to say The (pronounced "thee," never, ever "thuh.") Ohio State University because that is the official name.  I'm serious.
  • Speaking of The Ohio State University, Head Coach Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was a household name during my prime college football-watching years.  In fact, he was the enemy to my Michigan State Spartans and the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Woody was a great coach which is why I recognized the name right off the bat and I was happy to make the Mrs. Woody Hayes' (given name is Susan) most excellent chili recipe.
  • This is odd:  throughout the book, I would see often a listing such as "Mrs. Henry R. (Red) Sanders" then on the next line "Formerly University of California at Los Angeles."  Now kids, there is no such thing as a "former" University of California at Los Angeles.  The school continues to be called UCLA (University of California Los Angeles), just as Harvard was, is, and will always be Harvard University and not "Formerly Harvard University," perish the thought!
  • Also:  Seems to me that a book that includes a list of Contributors in alphabetical order and a [recipe] Index in alphabetical order should also include a list of "contributing" colleges and/or NFL in alphabetical order but they didn't because that would be too easy?  Had such a list existed, I could have ascertained quite easily that Boston College was not on the list rather than flipping through page after page to see if I spotted the name. 
  • There are a handful of recipes submitted by NFL coaches' wives and I learned the following:
    • The Los Angeles Chargers (as listed here) started as the Los Angeles Chargers, then they moved to San Diego where they played for many years, and are now on deck to become the Los Angeles Chargers again this coming season.  (Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are also the Los Angeles Rams who started in LA, went to St. Louis for many years, and are also back in LA.  I cannot keep up with this stuff, I cannot.  To this day, I will always think of the Colts as being the Baltimore Colts and not the Indianapolis Colts because that is just wrong and it messes with my head!)
    • The current-day New York Jets went by the name "New York Titans" from 1960-1962.  I did not know that and so there goes the theory "Once you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette to your last dying day!"  (Lyric from the Jet Song, from the musical/movie West Side Story).
    • And then there's the Cleveland Browns and this is hilarious:  the Browns' head coach from the 50's to the early 60's was Paul Brown, no relation.

You know, I've remarked several times that reading cookbooks is like reading history books as I learn so much about the time and place and football!

And now on to our second featured cookbook and recipe, Gourmet Game Night and the fan-tab-ulous recipe for Oven Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip.  Damn, was this good.

Now some of you may have surmised from the title that this cookbook is intended for game nights that include card games or board games.  But since betting figures in mightily for the Super Bowl, I included it here and do believe that was a most excellent play call on my part. 

The thing I liked about this cookbook is that it features all kinds of bite-sized and non-messy bites to be eating while game playing because who wants something messy? For that matter, who wants to watch a game while eating messy food that might plop all over the floor or sofa, causing one to take a break in the action during which time, the "home" team almost inevitably scores and of course you will have missed it because you were doing cleanup on Aisle 9? (My problem isn't necessarily food but with drinks that seem to upend themselves at the worst time!)

This book's Table of Contents is broken into categories that make it easy to find a recipe in a snap.  The Table of Contents categories are:  Dips and Spreads; Skewers and Picks; All-Edibles; Sandwiches; Pastries; Small Dishes, and Drinks.  And the author also includes suggested menus for all kinds of game nights and that is fun.  A sample Game Night for Two to Four Menu includes "Rosemary Martinis;" "Salmon Poke in Endive Leaves;" "Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip;" Lamb and Olive Kebabs," and "Nutella and Banana Galettes."  The author notes also games that you might be playing that evening such as Canasta, Mah-jongg, Scrabble, Bridge, or Pinochle.

Now I have never been a game player as I can't stand to sit still that long, but I do love food and must say that this onion dip recipe was so freaking good that I'm including it on my annual holiday party menu from here on out!  That said, there is no game night, football, baseball or other, during which I would ever serve "Salmon Poke in Endive Leaves" as I am not fond of salmon and is that dish just a tad precocious, or what?

So there you go folks, a game-winning Super Bowl menu.  In case you missed the game and care about these things, all good things came to an end for the Atlanta Falcons who were leading the New England Patriots at the half by a large margin, and then they weren't.  The Pats came back, tied the game, sent it into overtime and won.  This was definitely not my hoped for outcome but so it goes and hey, at least I had good food to take the sting off! 

These two dishes are great fare any time of the year so never mind that I posted them too late for the Super Bowl or any "bowl," really.  By the way, I was "this" close to making "Jackpot Casserole" from Gridiron Cookery just because I loved the name but in the end, it had to be chili or bust.

Chili – 6 servings – from Mrs. W. W. (Woody) Hayes . [The] Ohio State University
1 large onion, sliced
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 pound ground beef
1 No. 2 ½ can tomatoes (Ann's Note:  27-29 ounces, or 3 ½ cups)
1/8 teaspoon paprika
3 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon (more or less as desired) chili powder
1 No. 2 can kidney beans, drained (Ann's Note:  20 ounces, or 2 ½ cups)

Fry onion and green pepper in melted butter in Dutch oven or deep skillet.  Add ground beef and cook until brown.  Add tomatoes and seasonings.  Simmer about 2 hours, adding water if necessary.  Just before serving, add kidney beans.

Oven-Baked Potato Chips with Onion Dip – Makes 8-10 Dips with Chips
Onion Dip
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons minced fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried
½ cup beef broth, preferably reduced-sodium
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¾ cup top-quality mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ teaspoon Tabasco, or more to taste
Potato Chips
2 russet potatoes (about 1 ½ pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil

To make the onion dip, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and thyme and cook, stirring often, until the onions are very tender and nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes.  The onions shouldn't brown too fast; reduce the heat to medium-low if needed.  Add the broth and garlic and cook until the liquid is completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, stir in the mayonnaise, sour cream, Tabasco, and salt to taste.  Transfer the dip to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.  Set 2 oven racks at the centermost levels.

To prepare the potato chips, half-fill a large bowl with cold water.  Peel 1 of the potatoes and cut it crosswise into 1/8-inch thick slices, preferably using a mandoline slicer.  Add the slices to the water and repeat with the second potato.  Use your hands to swish the potato slices around in the water to remove the excess starch. (Ann's Note:  I hand cut these and despite best efforts, my slices were thicker than the 1/8-inch thick slices as noted in the recipes.  That said, I rather liked our thicker chip that wasn't really a chip but a nicely-baked potato slice.)

Dry the potato slices well on a clean kitchen towel.  Rinse and dry the bowl and return the potato slices to it.  Drizzle the olive oil over and toss to evenly coat the slices with the oil.  Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on the baking sheets and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake until the slices are lightly browned and crisp, 30 to 40 minutes, turning the slices over and switching the baking sheets about halfway through for even cooking.  Keep an eye on the progress near the end; some slices may be done sooner.  Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.  Ann's Note:  my chips were definitely not crisp but they were great nonetheless.  To "serve," I put some in a bowl and then spooned the dip on top and ate them as I would a baked potato.  Shall I just say that my dip ration was far, far greater than the potato?

To serve, spoon the dip into individual dishes and set them on a platter or tray.  Set the chips in a bowl alongside for your guests to serve themselves.

It is best to make dip at least 4 hours ahead, but it can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated.  The chips are best made not more than 2 hours before serving.

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