This is a day for pure comfort food, nothing particularly fancy, and preferably something that can be nibbled on throughout the day.
I love the whole experience of the Big Game – the tailgating, the singing of the National Anthem, the half-time entertainment and, of course, the food. Chicken wings and chips/dips are two of my favorite game-day choices, the perfect casual foods everyone loves. If you have a grill with side burners, you can make all the recipe components outside.
The first of two types of chicken wings I am sharing with you today are teriyaki. I could eat teriyaki wings all day, every day and still be happy. I also make my own teriyaki sauce these days using gluten-free soy sauce, making these safe for everyone in your crowd. The beauty of making your own sauce is you can customize it to suit your personal tastes. If you want it a little sweeter, add some more sugar. Throw in a touch of hot chili oil if you want a spark of heat. Make it exactly the way you love it.
The second style of chicken wings are Buffalo-style that are a little more balanced than the traditional version. I’ve added some sugar and lime juice to stimulate all your taste buds. Instead of just burning your mouth, these wings have a flavor that’s almost addictive. You can add as much or as little hot sauce as you like, giving these wings just the right level of heat to suit your family. You can offer more hot sauce at the table for those who really love spicy foods.
Although Sriracha is said to be gluten-free and I have no issues with it myself, if you have someone who is severely sensitive or Celiac, you may want to use a certified gluten-free hot sauce in its place. It is always better to be safe than sorry!
A lot of the chicken wing recipes use calorie-adding cooking techniques and ingredients. By grilling the wings you add a ton of flavor and reduce the calories. Also, you can cook all of the wings at one time and then add the sauce once they are cooked, making your preparation a lot easier. Plus, the grilling can be done a day ahead, saving you work on game day. Just reheat the wings before tossing with the warm sauces.
My cheese dip is a totally delicious and fattening treat. You have to off-set the healthiness somewhere in your menu! I have added grilled vegetables and seasonings to make this tastier than your ordinary cheese dip. You can also use the celery sticks instead of the tortilla chips to save a few calories. Feel free to customize the seasonings to suit your personal tastes – use the recipe as a guideline and make notes to any changes so you can recreate it next time.
All of the recipes can easily be doubled so if you are hosting a crowd scale them up to feed all of your guests. If you don’t want to deal with the bones in chicken wings, go ahead and use chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut into strips. Just realize that because they are boneless they will cook more quickly and will need to be watched carefully.
Both of these dishes are best when served hot or warmed. The best way to keep foods warm during a party is by using either slow cookers or chafing dishes. Did you know you can rent chafing dishes just like you see at professional buffets? Check your local area for party rental companies and reserve them in advance. On a big weekend, renting party supplies is very popular and you don’t want them to be out of what you need!
When you are planning a big party select a variety of dishes, some served hot and others that are safe at room temperature. This gives your guests options and an interesting array of flavors and textures. To serve the best buffet, cover your table carefully to protect it from heat and moisture, add a machine washable tablecloth in festive colors, and have trivets on hand for extra protection.
For visual interest, create different heights on your table. I use sturdy boxes of varying heights under the tablecloth. When I am done and it is all set up, it looks like a professional designed my table!
For game day make sure you have plenty of your favorite team’s colors. I like to have strings of beads on hand to give to my guests as they arrive to get them immediately into the spirit of the day. Get creative and serve a cocktail to match your team. As you can tell, I am a 49er fan so having a cranberry-based cocktail would give everyone something fun to drink and toast our victory (wishful thinking, LOL).
Have a fabulous Big Game party everyone!
These simple grilled chicken wings are a launching pad for a variety of sauces.
- 5 pounds whole or separated chicken wings (about 20 whole wings or 40 total pieces when wings are cut up)
- Olive oil
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Line a baking sheet with two layers of aluminum foil. Tightly crimp the first layer to the pan edges and lay the second sheet of foil loosely over the first layer.
- If your wings came whole, you will need to cut them into parts for easier eating. Turn them all skin-side down on a cutting board. Using a sharp heavy knife, cut through the joint between the wing tip and the middle section of each wing. Transfer the wing tips to a plastic bag and freeze to use to make a future soup or stock. It is easier to see the joint that separates the leg from the middle section of the wing. Cut each wing in half.
- Transfer the wings to the foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle them lightly with some of the oil and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with the onion powder, salt and pepper, turning so all sides have seasoning.
- Preheat your gas grill to medium high (all burners on) or build a medium charcoal fire; spreading the coals out when they are gray. If you are using charcoal, note where the hot spots are so you can move the wings in and out of those areas. A medium fire allows the wings to cook through gently without burning.
- When the grill is hot, place the wings on the hot grate. If using a gas grill, lower the heat to medium/medium low and keep the cover closed except when turning the wings. If using a charcoal grill, cook the wings uncovered (the coals need the oxygen to burn). If using a charcoal grill, move the wings on and off the hotter areas so everything cooks evenly. If you have a smaller grill you may need to cook the wings in batches; don’t overcrowd the grill.
- Remove the top layer of foil from the baking sheet and discard. This leaves you with a clean surface on which to place the cooked wings and you will avoid cross contamination from any raw chicken juices.
- Turn the wings every five minutes with tongs and cook until they are evenly browned on all sides, crisp and cooked through, about 20 minutes total. Wings will cook at different times depending on their size so remove them from the heat as they finish cooking. The chicken is done when it reaches 155-160 degrees internally (Insert an instant read thermometer into the meat without touching the bone).
- When the wings are done, transfer to the baking sheet, cover with more foil and keep warm in a low oven or on the rack above the grill. The wings will stay warm and finish cooking if there are any spots that aren’t quite cooked through.
These wings are now ready for a variety of sauces. Just transfer the wings to a large mixing bowl, add a sauce and toss.
Consider garnishing each type of with a different ingredient so they are easy to identify on the platter. For example, use chopped green onions on one, sliced almonds or white sesame seeds on another.
You can cook these wings up to a day in advance on the grill. When cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Reheat in a low oven (about 250 degrees) until hot and then transfer to the mixing bowl and toss with warm sauce.
Make your own teriyaki sauce to toss with grilled chicken wings
- 1 cup soy sauce or gluten-free tamari sauce
- 3/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 green onions, tough ends trimmed, chopped
- 2 tablespoons bourbon, dark rum or white wine
- 2 pounds grilled chicken wings, kept warm in a low oven
- 1 green onion, tops trimmed, finely chopped, for garnishing
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, green onions and bourbon. Simmer about 30 minutes. Strain out the solids and discard.
- Transfer the wings to a large mixing bowl. Pour about half of the sauce over the wings and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with a little extra sauce if desired, and sprinkle with remaining green onions.
- Remaining sauce will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a month.
Most store-bought teriyaki sauces are not gluten free. To keep your family and guests safe, it is always better to make your own from scratch. It is simple and also more delicious!
Make your own Buffalo-style wing sauce so you can control the spiciness.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Sriracha or other hot chile sauce, or to taste (gluten free if needed)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 pounds grilled chicken wings, kept warm in a low oven
- Celery sticks, optional, for serving
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chile sauce, sugar, salt and lime juice. Cook, whisking, until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is blended together. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more chile sauce if you want it spicier.
- Transfer the wings to a large mixing bowl. Pour about half of the sauce over the wings and toss with your hands until evenly coated. Transfer to a warmed serving platter. (Wash your hands carefully and don’t rub your eyes!)
- Serve with extra sauce in a bowl and celery sticks if desired.
A hearty chili cheese dip for parties.
- 3 poblano chiles
- 1 to 2 jalapeno chiles (the more you add, the hotter the dip)
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and sliced thickly
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 15-ounce cans chili with no beans (Hormel brand is gluten free)
- 2 14.5-ounce cans diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or chili powder of your choice
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Fresh cilantro or Italian parsley sprigs for garnishing
- Tortilla chips for serving (gluten free if needed)
- Heat your gas grill to medium-high heat or build a medium charcoal fire. When the grill is hot, add the chiles and cook until blistered on all sides, turning as needed with tongs, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel to steam. This will help loosen the skins, making them easier to peel. Note: using a towel instead of plastic wrap will help absorb some of the moisture from the steam and make the chiles even easier to peel.
- Lightly brush the oil on the onion slices and garlic cloves. Add them to the grill and cook until they have softened and acquired grill marks, turning them as needed. When done, transfer to a plate. Peel the garlic and mince. Chop the onions very finely and transfer to a bowl.
- Peel the skins off the chiles. I do this over a bowl because the chiles can be quite slippery. Do not rinse them or you will lose a lot of the flavor. Cut off the tops, cut down the length of the pepper, open it up and remove the ribs and seeds. Cut the chiles into long strips and then finely chop crosswise. Add them to the bowl with the onions and garlic. The vegetables can be grilled and chopped up to a day in advance.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the cream cheese with the canned chili and tomatoes, stirring often. If your grill has side burners, you can do this step outdoors. When the cheese is melted, stir in the grilled chopped chiles, onions and garlic. Add the ancho chile powder, cumin, turmeric and Cheddar cheese, stirring until the cheese is mostly melted. Remove from the heat and whisk until cheese is fully melted and all the ingredients are blended. Stir in the chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and more of any of the seasonings you like.
- Transfer to a slow cooker or chafing dish to keep warm and garnish the top with the cilantro or parsley sprigs. Serve hot with tortilla chips.