Game-Time Grubs

Food and football go hand in hand, and you’ll need only one of yours to pop these bite-size morsels.
Fanfare Fullbook Pages Hr 2


Yields: 4-6 servings


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups canned crushed     
  • plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes


  • canola oil for deep-frying
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. calamari, cleaned
  • chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  • lemon wedges for serving


In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat the olive oil and garlic until the garlic softens and is fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.


Pour the canola oil into a large, heavy saucepan to a depth of 3 inches and warm over high heat until it reaches 350°F on a deep-fry thermometer. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Set a large wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, the remaining 2 tsps. oregano, salt and cayenne. Cut the calamari bodies crosswise into ¼-inch rings; leave the tentacles whole. Add one-third of the calamari to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Gently shake off the excess flour, then carefully add the calamari to the hot oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to the rack and keep warm while you coat and fry the remaining calamari in two batches.

Spoon the spicy marinara into individual dipping bowls. Transfer the fried calamari to a warmed platter and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve right away, passing the warm marinara sauce and the lemon wedges on the side.


Yields: 6–8 servings


  • 3 lbs. chicken wings, tips removed
  • 3 Tbs. canola oil
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose barbecue rub
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 1 Tbs. distilled white vinegar
  • blue cheese dip for serving
  • celery sticks for serving


In a large bowl, combine the wings and oil. Toss until the wings are evenly coated. Sprinkle the barbecue rub over the wings and toss again to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

At least 30 minutes before grilling, remove the wings from the refrigerator. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and tender, about 2 minutes. Pour in the hot sauce and vinegar, stir well, remove from the heat and set the pan aside.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the chicken wings on the grill directly over the fire and cook, turning frequently, until they are nicely browned on all sides, have some char and are tender, 15–20 minutes. 

Transfer the wings to the sauce in the frying pan, place the pan over low heat and toss the wings in the sauce to coat evenly. Let the wings and the sauce marry for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the wings to a platter and pour any remaining pan sauce over the top. Serve with the blue cheese dip and celery sticks.


Yields: 4–6 servings 


  • 24 large shrimp in the shell, about 1 lb. total weight, peeled with tail segment intact
  • basic shrimp brine
  • 12 thick-cut slices applewood-smoked bacon, halved
  • 6–8 metal or wooden skewers, for prep


Devein each shrimp using the tip of a small knife. Add the shrimp to the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat. Brush and oil the grill grate. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes. Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the bacon slices, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels.

Remove the shrimp from the brine and pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Wrap a half slice of bacon around the shrimp. Slide the wrapped shrimp onto a skewer, piercing it through the middle and securing the bacon. Repeat with the remaining shrimp and bacon.

Place the shrimp on the grill and cook, turning once, until the bacon is a little crispy and the shrimp change to a creamy white, 3–5 minutes per side. Slide the shrimp off the skewers onto a platter. Serve right away.


Yields: 12 servings 


  • 12 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 24 medjool dates, pitted
  • 3 oz. cambozola cheese or other blue cheese
  • 12 wooden toothpicks, for prep


Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the bacon slices, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels.

Position a broiler pan 4 inches below the heat source and preheat the broiler. Soak the toothpicks in water for at least 30 minutes.

Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise. Stuff each date with about ½ tsp. of the cheese, wrap a strip of bacon around each one and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.

Slip under the broiler and broil, turning once, until the bacon is crispy and the cheese is bubbling, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dates to a serving platter and serve hot.

All recipes and photos are reprinted with permission from Fan Fare: Game Day Recipes for Delicious Finger Foods, Drinks & More by Kate McMillan. Photos by Lauren Burke © Weldon Owen.

Categories: Bergen Health & Life