It’s March Madness, baby! The Final 64 is finally upon us. Here’s an extreme dream team of eats for that ultimate college playoff hoops party. It will cover the whole shebang … all the way from the beginning of the tournament to the sweet sixteen, on through the elite eight to the final four, and most importantly, championship night. Finger food utopia for every woman and man, young and old. Eat heartily and cheer loud.
The Peacemaker: For over a century and a half, this New Orleans’ Oyster Po-boy has been a traditional fare of choice among husbands and wives, patrons and fans alike. You take a long French bread baguette, cut in open lengthwise, smear on garlic butter and toast it crispy brown. Meanwhile, roll your oysters in Creole seasoned cornmeal and fry crispy golden brown in vegetable oil. Coat each side of the toasted baguette with a healthy dose of tartar sauce, then layer on a hearty amount of shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, then top that with lots of fried oysters (If you choose to do so, use fried shrimp or fried crawfish tail meat instead … it’s all good, ya’ know!). Close with top half of baguette and use party picks to secure. Cut in two inch wide portions. Now get ready to rock the world of your guests.
The Reuben: This consists of thinly sliced corned beef brisket and Gruyere cheese, sautéed sauerkraut and onions, layer on dark rye bread coated heavily with thousand island dressing. Grill it brown, until the cheese is melted good, in a hot skillet laced with melted butter. Diagonal cut in quarters. Uhmm, uhmm, good!
The Monte Cristo: There are many variations to this classic sandwich. In Vegas, they throw on tomatoes. Other places dip it in plain egg wash and deep fry … too greasy for me. Here’s my version, and the contrast of salty and sweet will knock your socks off. Get yourself a big fat loaf of sourdough bread and slice big thick portions (Texas Toast width). Use 4 ounces of thin sliced smoked ham and 4 ounces of thin sliced roasted turkey breast, plus 2 or 3 ounces of the real, honest to God, Swiss cheese. Have a bowl of 3 raw eggs, a cup of whole milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and two tablespoons of powder sugar, blended thoroughly, ready for dipping the sandwich into, so have a bowl big enough. Layer Swiss cheese, ham, turkey, and then more cheese in between the two slices of bread. Dip creation into the egg wash (do both sides, makin’ sure it absorbs the flavor well). Grill both sides of the sandwich till a dark rich bronze brown has been achieved (in a hot non-stick skillet laced with plenty of butter, covered with a lid to help heat the meat and melt the cheese). Now cut it diagonally into quarters, coating sandwich liberally with powder sugar. This will become an instant favorite among your friends.
The Five Star Club: This is a meat lover’s dream fantasy eat. Take three thick slices of toasted sourdough bread and coat the inside of two slices with mayonnaise, and both sides of the middle slice with spicy brown mustard. On one mayonnaise toast slice, top with two slices of Swiss cheese, two ounces of thin sliced roast beef, two ounces roasted chicken breast, and three thick crispy browned bacon strips. Top that with the mustard middle slice of toast. Now layer on top of that, two ounces of thin sliced smoked ham and two ounces of roasted turkey, and two slices of American cheese, then cover it with the other slice of mayonnaise toast. Stick it with four long party style toothpicks and diagonally cut into quarters. This is my personal favorite … being the massive carnivore that I am.
Spicy Hoop Wings: Go to the store and buy your basic plain or breaded, pre-cooked, bone-in or boneless, chicken drummies, and blast’em in the a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes till crispy and heated throughout. In a mixing bowl, combine either barbeque sauce and Louisiana hot sauce, sweet and sour sauce with Tabasco sauce, Teriyaki sauce with brown sugar and cayenne pepper, or just a basic dry rub of Creole seasoning and a packet of Ranch Dressing mix. Toss in heated wings and coat heavily. Serve’em and watch’em disappear fast, leavin’em begging for more.
Three Point Chicken Tenders: Here’s a simple and fast treat. Buy pre-breaded, pre-cooked chicken breast tenders and brown ‘em in the oven till crunchy and delicious. Serve ‘em with assorted dippin’ sauces … Ranch dressing, Marinara sauce, Barbeque sauce, Bleu Cheese dressing, Sweet & Sour sauce, etc.
Half-court Mini Burgers: Create your own White Castle burgers, on a basic dinner roll or whole wheat roll, with seasoned one ounce charbroiled ground chuck patties, grilled onions, mustard, pickles, ketchup and cheese. Unique and a great addition for any gathering.
Halftime Eggrolls: My favorite is the big 4 ounce Ming Eggrolls (Pork, Shrimp, Chicken, or Vegetable stuffed) for that timeout between halves. Brown ’em in the oven according to box instructions and serve ’em with various sauces. Your B-Ball fans will think you’re a Golden Goddess.
Slam Dunk Mix: Mix together Chex Party Mix, a basic store brand of hearty trail mix (made with M&Ms, almonds, peanuts, cashews, and raisins), pretzels (chocolate and yogurt coated), cheese stuffed pretzel rolls, and a basic store brand of Tropical Fruit blend trail mix (banana chips, coconut flakes, papaya, mangoes, and pineapple). Mix them all together … seasoned spicy. They’ll think you’re a culinary genius.
Thirst Quenchers: Well, you gotta have something to wash all that food down. Get into the spirit of the Game! Have an assortment of 20-ounce bottles of Gatorade flavors on hand, iced down in an open metal basin tub, with easy access for everyone to self serve. In another tub, ice down assorted cola’s and soda pops (make sure you have plenty of diet flavors, especially Diet Dr. Pepper … in case I decide to show up). If you want beer, well, buy your favorite, and plenty of it. If your friends want one bad enough, they’ll drink your brand. If not, screw ’em! Drunks and sports don’t mix well, anyway … you sure in hell don’t want a fight to break out.