The Game’s on, Gals, Let’s Eat!

The men are hunkered forward, elbows on knees, eyes narrowed, the pupils offering but tiny pinpricks of awareness. The room is musty with testosterone. In deep communion with their troglodyte ancestors they sit rapt, caught in the thrall of vicarious priapic energy. A primal reenactment of the victories and losses of ancient battlefields is so close they can almost taste the blood. Tonight’s NFL game has begun!

What’s a gal gonna do?

Snack, I say, and snack damned well. Not only will it serve to counteract the ancillary effects of getting too close to a serious male bonding session, but you will be duly rewarded with some truly happy eating.  Make the following two fantastic game foods, grab as much off the plate as you can while the guys aren’t looking (because blessedly at this time they are in fact incapable of it), and salve your lonesome selves with the best of savories while the guys are enjoying (in blissful absentia, of course), the “war”.

These Mini Sobresada Puffs are a wonderful find from the book Wine Bar Food, written by Cathy and Tony Montuano, of Chicago’s Spiaggo. Little balls of pizza dough filled with spunky chunks of Sobresada and Asiago, they are best served right out of the oven. They’re easy enough for even the most novice cook to put together, but beware, they won’t last long! In my family they became instant family favorites.

Makes 16 puffs



Wine Bar Food

1 pound pizza dough, either your own, or fresh store-bought refrigerated dough, rolled out.

1/3 cup diced Portuguese Sobresada, Italian Soppressata or other dried sausage

1/3 cup diced Asiago cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

Have ready two nonstick mini muffin tins, or grease regular mini-sized  tins with olive oil.

Transfer the pizza dough sheet to a cutting board and cut the dough into 16 2” squares. Sprinkle some sausage and cheese in the center of each square. Pull the edges of each square together toward the middle, pinching to seal. Form into a ball by rolling gently in your hands and place each puff, seam side down into one cup in the muffin tin. Let rise in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400º F.

Brush each puff lightly with olive oil.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wrapped in an airtight container, these puffs can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to one week. To reheat, wrap the puffs in foil and heat at 350º F for 8 minutes.

These stuffed clams apparently come from a real food-loving guy. I can believe it, because once I made them I was instantly hooked. Clams are just natural partners to any kind of sausage, and this particular blend of Italian sausage, chorizo and pepperoni really brings out the best in the clams. I’m afraid I’ll have to rate these updated “stuffies” to be a major addiction. They’re the best I’ve ever tasted.

They freeze nicely too,  and I’m always happier when I have a few within reach for a spontaneous plunge into pure decadence! I wrap each uncooked clam in plastic wrap, and put them in large freezer bags. Thaw them in the fridge before baking.

Makes 30


Food and Wine

One 6-inch pepperoni (5 ounces), chopped

One 2-ounce chorizo sausage, chopped

15 quahogs or chowder clams, scrubbed

1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

1/2 cup minced onion

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced green bell pepper

6 cups dry finely diced bread

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Put the pepperoni and chorizo in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Transfer to a bowl.

In a large pot, bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the clams, cover and steam over high heat until they open, about 5 minutes. Transfer the clams to a bowl. Pour the broth into a glass measuring cup, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom. Remove the clams from their shells. Separate the shells and reserve. Discard the round muscles on both sides of each clam; quarter the clams. In a food processor, coarsely chop the clams.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the Italian sausage over moderate heat, breaking up the clumps; stir until no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sausage into a large bowl.

Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and browned, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved pepperoni and chorizo and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Scrape the mixture into the large bowl. Add the diced bread and the clams and stir in 2 cups of the reserved clam broth. Lightly pack the stuffing into the shells.

Arrange the stuffed clams on 2 large baking sheets and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until lightly browned and crisp on top. Serve.

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