As U-M alumni, every fall our thoughts turn to football. Though I cannot pretend to be an avid fan, I am an ardent food fanatic and ready to assist my fellow graduates with game-watching party treats. So if you are relegated to cheering in front of a big TV at home instead of inside the Big House on campus, here are two spirited menus. The first is simple, requiring little cooking. The second is more ambitious. Both, however, are sure to score points with your pals between plays.
MENU ONE: Classically Easy
Now that so many stores offer the option of creating your own six-pack, choose a wide selection of craft beers—with some from the great state of Michigan—and chill in time for kickoff.
CHIPS AND DIP
No need to mash and mix ingredients when plenty of stores sell chunky, freshly made guacamole. Dress it up with chopped fresh cilantro and pair with high-end blue tortilla chips
Buy several packages of chicken drumettes (the part of the wing that looks like a drumstick). Toss with melted butter and hot sauce, arrange on an oiled tray, and sprinkle with salt. Place in the middle of an oven preheated to 450°F for 20 minutes or until the wings are browned and cooked through. Sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese, return briefly to the oven so the cheese melts, and serve with plenty of napkins to avoid sticky fingers (harder to cheer).
SOUP AND SANDWICH
Make chicken posole by sautéing a chopped onion in oil and adding a jar of store-bought salsa (green or red). Cook for 5 minutes, and add some chicken broth, shredded rotisserie chicken, and a large, drained can of hominy or pinto beans. Garnish with sliced chilies, tortilla chips, grated sharp cheddar, and lime wedges. Make it cheesier with a side dish of pimento sandwiches: mix grated cheddar cheese with mayonnaise and drained and diced jarred pimentos, and spread on your favorite bread.
CRISPY SWEET FINISH
Combine 2 pounds of peeled and thinly sliced apples with 1/3- to 1/2-cup of melted apricot jam in a shallow 6-cup baking dish. Top with 3 cups of sweetened granola and bake, covered, with buttered aluminum foil, in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, bake another 15 minutes, and serve with vanilla ice cream.
MENU TWO: Colorfully Fancy
A WOLVERINE COCKTAIL
Puree frozen blueberries in a blender with a little water, pour into ice cube trays, and freeze. Make a bright-yellow syrup by melting 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water with the yellow peels of 4 lemons in a saucepan. Cool, cover, and chill overnight. On game day, add fresh lemon juice and water to the syrup—along with rum, vodka, or tequila—and pour over the blueberry ice cubes for a Maize and Blue adult beverage.
In the oven, lightly broil slices of rustic country bread brushed with olive oil. Remove and sprinkle lightly with salt before placing in a basket. Serve with bowls of different toppings: white beans tossed with lemon, garlic, and olive oil; chopped mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and pesto; or chopped smoked salmon, mixed with dill and sour cream.
MAIZE AND BLUE EGGS
Chop up red cabbage and place in a saucepan with 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Let stand 10 minutes before pouring over a bowl of 6 peeled, hard-boiled eggs. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and stir until the mixture stops foaming. Then add another teaspoon and watch as the cabbage turns blue. Soak the eggs, chilled, in the mixture overnight. On game day, halve the blue eggs and fill with a yellow deviled-egg mixture.
THE DEL RIO DET BURGER
The Det Burger, named after Bob Detweiler, one of the cooks at the Del Rio—an Ann Arbor favorite from 1969 until it closed in 2003—is a personal favorite. (It was my first cooking job!) Bob was gone by the time I got there, but the recipe lived on. My version involves browning a 6-ounce chuck burger in a pan before topping it with the “Det mix”: sautéed cremini mushrooms and onion, sliced and roasted poblano peppers, and chopped Kalamata olives. Top with a slice of sharp cheddar, pour a bit of beer into the pan, and cover until the cheese melts. (For a vegetarian version, replace the burgers with a large Portobello mushroom cap.)
Coarsely chop a 3 1/2-ounce bar of bittersweet chocolate and melt in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Mix it with 8 ounces of cream cheese and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a food processor. Add 6 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour. Blend, add 1 egg, and blend again. Divide into individual ramekins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the centers are just a tiny bit wobbly. Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.
Cookbook author Sara Moulton (saramoulton.com) is currently the host of the public television show “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.”