Award-winning chef, Alex Stratta, shares his recipes for the most crowd-pleasing appetizers for your Big Game Sunday celebration.
Some people might say that the first big holiday of the new year is the Big Game. This February, the highly-anticipated big game will be held in sunny Miami, featuring such celebrated entertainers as Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. It will surely be a Sunday to remember, but, you don’t have to be a diehard sports fan to enjoy the plethora of parties and fantastic party food ideas that are a traditional part of game day.
“Food and drink are always essential to entertaining at any level,” says Michelin-awarded chef, Alex Stratta, who plans to open Stratta Lifestyle Kitchen in Scottsdale, Arizona in Spring 2020. In addition to the usual Big Game party favorites like wings and nachos, these events are a great opportunity to delight your guests with upscale appetizers and a more diverse spread. “Get a variety of unexpected items to please everyone, including vegetable lovers and non-meat eaters,” says Chef Stratta. “Get some interesting cheese and charcuterie, and grilled bread with several spreads and dips like hummus and pesto.”
“Get a variety of unexpected items to please everyone, including vegetable lovers and non-meat eaters,” says Chef Stratta. “Get some interesting cheese and charcuterie, and grilled bread with several spreads and dips like hummus and pesto.”
When hosting a party with several guests gathered around the television, you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen and miss out on the action. Chef Stratta recommends serving foods that don’t need too much last-minute preparation so you can enjoy hanging with your friends come game time. “The more substantial parts of the dishes should be prepared in advance to allow for easy and quick cooking during halftime.”
Another idea is to personalize the dishes based on the football teams. “It’s fun to make foods from the areas where the teams hail from,” says Chef Stratta. For example, you could incorporate Kansas City Bar-B-Que for the Chiefs or traditional San Francisco sourdough bread for the 49ers. As a two Michelin-starred and James Beard Award winning chef known for his fine dining background, Chef Stratta has a few recipes to elevate party fare including these crispy chicken sliders and savory bacon-wrapped dates. “I love the sliders because they’re spicy, crunchy and hot—with a cool slaw and toasted Hawaiian bread, which is my favorite for sliders,” says Chef Stratta. “The dates are a crowd pleaser and easy to make in advance. Most people aren’t familiar with the flavor of dates, but who doesn’t love bacon and honey with a bite of mustard?”
Chef Stratta’s Big Game party ideas for crispy chicken sliders and bacon-wrapped dates are sure to score a touchdown with your game-day party guests.
BACON-WRAPPED DATES WITH WALNUTS AND HONEY MUSTARD
20 medjool dates (pitted)
20 walnut halves
10 slices of thin bacon
4 six-inch bamboo skewers (pre-soaked)
¼ cup honey
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Cut the dates in half from tip to tip, remove the pit, then stuff with a walnut half and close. Cut the bacon slices in half and arrange them on a flat baking sheet fitted with parchment with no overlapping.
Tightly wrap each date with a piece of the bacon, then skewer five dates and repeat. Grill on both sides.
Combine the honey, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar, and serve cold with grilled dates.
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CRISPY CHICKEN SLIDER WITH APRICOT HOT SAUCE AND COLESLAW
Makes eight portions
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn starch
1 cup cornflakes
Salt and pepper
8 five-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Hawaiian slider rolls
Clarified butter (milk fat rendered from butter which is produced when butter melts and the components separate).
To make the breading for the chicken, combine flour, corn starch and crushed cornflakes in a bowl. Transfer into an airtight container and leave to dry at room temperature until needed.
Season the chicken well on both sides. Transfer the breading into a two-inch deep baking dish and bread the chicken well to coat the entire surface. Transfer breaded chicken to a lined baking dish. Fry the chicken at 350 degrees until cooked to internal temperature of 150 degrees and they are a crispy, golden brown.
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage
½ cup grated carrot
¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
Combine the cabbage, grated carrot and green onion in a serving bowl. Add mayonnaise and toss to coat. Then add the vinegar, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.
APRICOT HOT SAUCE
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced white onions
1 Habanero pepper (seeded)
1 pint pineapple juice
1 quart Sprite soda
3 pints Coco López
1 pound of dried apricots
1 quart of Frank’s RedHot
Heat the oil in a heavy pot, add the onions and caramelize over medium heat until dark golden brown. Add chopped Habanero peppers, apricots, pineapple juice and Sprite. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the hot sauce and Coco López. Simmer for 10 minutes and then remove from heat. Cool slightly and blend in a high-speed blender and let refrigerated for up to seven days.
When the chicken is cooked, toss each piece in a bowl with a half cup of the apricot hot sauce, coat thoroughly and cut in half. Toast the buns with clarified butter. Build the sliders with the slaw, chicken, pickles and bun.
Whether the Big Game turns out how you like, there is no arguing that these elevated apps will be the winners of the day. Bon appétit!