Game-Day Food Money Savers

Bust out an impressive game-day food spread, for less


We all love Sunday football, but when it’s our turn to host, we either end up looking like the cheap ones when we don’t have a good spread of grub, or we end up dishing out some major dough for those chicken wings and beer.

Not anymore. Elaina Vazquez, owner of local catering joint Boutique Bites, shares some tips and recipes for getting a delicious spread fit for a king without having to spend a fortune. Bring on your obnoxious friends, and let the screaming at the TV ensue.

1. Using inexpensive cuts of meat like pork shoulder or flank steak, but adding fresh, bold flavors is the perfect way to add sophistication to any inexpensive meat (Pulled Pork Nacho Rounds and Grilled Flank Steak with Giardiniera recipes below). Choose cuts of meat that are good for sharing. For example, instead of making individual pork chops for all of your guests, try a roasted pork loin wrapped with bacon, or braised pork shoulder to use in tacos/sandwiches. Same goes for steak. Instead of individual filets, go for the ribeye that can be sliced to feed more people.
2. Instead of buying pre-packaged and processed “game-day” food like chicken wings, save money by making them yourself (recipe below). Not only are you saving money, but you can tailor the flavor and control the heat yourself.
3. Soups and chilis are all perfect for serving a crowd on game-day. Make a typical spread upscale by serving guests piping hot soup or chili in crusty, hollowed out bread bowls. (Butternut squash soup recipe below)
Game-day winning recipes:
Pulled Pork Nacho Rounds
Pulled Pork:
½ cup white onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
8 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
2 T fresh thyme leaves
2 T fresh oregano leaves
1 T cumin seeds
2 T salt
Pepper to taste
4 cups water
5 lb boneless pork butt
Blend all ingredients in a food processor except for water. Slowly pour in the water while the food processor is still running. Pour marinade over pork and cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours. Bake pork at 250 degrees for approximately 4 hours or until very tender. Pull pork apart.
Tortilla Rounds:
Using corn tortillas, either cut them in quarters to make triangles…or use a ring cutter to cut out circles any size you want. Fry tortillas in corn oil until crisp. Drain and serve.
Pico De Gallo:
1 cup cherry tomato medley
½ onion, diced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeño, minced
1 lime, juiced
Salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste.
Build tortillas with pulled pork, Chihuahua cheese, and pico de gallo. Top with sliced avocado. Serve.
Grilled Flank Steak & Homemade Giardiniera
Marinate flank steak with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh Rosemary. Cook flank steak on a hot grill until cooked to desired temperature. Slice steak and serve with pickled giardiniera and chopped parsley.
½ head cauliflower
2 carrots
2 stalks celery
½ white onion
1 cherry-bomb pepper, or other red pepper
¼ cup sugar
1 cup Champagne vinegar
1 cup water
2 T salt
1 t whole coriander
Bring sugar, vinegar, water, salt, and coriander to a boil until sugar dissolves. Pour over vegetables. Once cool, keep refrigerated until ready to serve.   
Hot & Sour Chicken Wings with Salted Papaya
Wing Marinade:
¼ c soy
½ c fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T sugar
24 chicken wings
Bring all ingredients to a boil in the saucepan (except wings), stirring occasionally. Cool completely, then pour over wings. Marinate refrigerated for one hour.
Hot & Sour Sauce:
¼ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallots
¼ cup thinly sliced garlic
1 small red chile chopped
2 T red wine vinegar
2T fresh lime juice
¾ t salt 
Heat the oil over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Add remaining ingredients (except hoisin) and bring mixture to a boil. Puree mixture in a blender, or using a hand blender. Mix puree with hoisin. Set aside until ready to use.
To Make Wings:
Corn oil to fry
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup rice flour
½ papaya, seeds and skin removed, cut into sticks
Heat enough oil to fry wings in a heavy, deep pot to 375 degrees. Remove wings from marinade and pat dry. Combine cornstarch and rice flour on a plate. Dredge chicken in flour, then carefully place in pot. Don’t overcrowd pot, cook in batches if necessary. Cook until crisp, brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Adjust heat to maintain oil temperature. Drain chicken on paper towels and transfer to bowl of wing sauce. Coat well and serve with salted papaya sticks. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Butternut Squash Soup
Just one butternut squash makes enough soup for 4 people. Cut the squash right down the middle and remove the seeds. Rub the skin and flesh with olive oil, salt and fresh nutmeg. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the flesh is completely soft (test with a fork). Scoop out the flesh and puree with vegetable stock. Season and serve.
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