As I near completion of the Parlor City Paradise manuscript—half a chapter and an epilogue are all that remain—I continue work on my 21 Sundays of Fantastic Football Food cookbook. That’s the reason for the Football Flashbacks I’ve been including in my blog posts over the past few weeks. For the most part, I already know which recipes I want to use. The rest of the cookbook’s content is still somewhat up in the air.
I’ve been writing about the NFL a lot longer than I’ve been blogging and I have dozens if not hundreds of pieces to sift through. A lot of them are garbage. I already know that. Plenty of others are too date specific to be of any good now. That still leaves me quite a bit and I need to figure out which excerpts may be worthy of print. Feel free to offer an opinion because I’ll be doing this all season long. If you have any sort of reaction to a Football Flashback be it good, bad or indifferent, I’d truly appreciate it if you’d let me know. You can reply to the post directly or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
The weather is turning a bit colder and that means burger and brat season may be almost at an end. Good thing there are plenty of football foods perfect for the oven, slow cooker, deep fryer or stove top. I’d like to share this delicious game day recipe for Sloppy Joes. I know you’ll like it.
You’ve probably always assumed that the classic Sloppy Joe came by that name simply because it is so… well, sloppy. It might have. Although, according to my crack research staff, who I affectionately refer to as Wikipedia, no one knows for sure when or even where the sandwich originated. It may have come from a Sioux City, Iowa café and been named after its creator. That would have been around 1930. However, not long after that, or maybe it was before—again, the story is unclear—the term Sloppy Joe was used to describe any hole-in-the-wall diner where you could get cheap food fast. It’s all pretty confusing. I suggest you come up with your own creation myth and do your best to make it sound convincing.
The Sloppy Joe is one of those truly rare delicacies that even the hair-netted ladies in the elementary school lunch room can’t mess up. No offense to lunch ladies. I still have fond memories of those perfectly symmetrical balls of rock hard mashed potatoes. But getting back to the Sloppy Joe, any dufus can open up a can of Manwich, which I love by the way, add some ground beef and produce a perfectly adequate meal. However, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from doing things the hard way, especially when the hard way isn’t actually that hard, and taking a little extra time will not only impress your football friends but make the entire house smell fantastic. This recipe will take a little over an hour to prepare and it’s well worth the wait.
1 pound extra lean ground beef (or turkey if you prefer)
½ onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
generous half cup ketchup
3 to 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1½ Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tsp. Dijon mustard
1½ cups water
1 Tsp. garlic salt, or to taste
½ Tsp. ground black pepper
cayenne pepper to taste
Place ground beef and onion in a COLD, deep frying pan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until meat is browned and crumbly. Add garlic and bell pepper and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add ¾ of a cup of water and stir in ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer. Add remaining water. Bring to a simmer again and then reduce heat and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until liquid is gone and Sloppy Joe mix is thick and succulent. It should take about 40 minutes. Add a hint of cayenne pepper, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve on sesame seed buns or onion rolls.
The Oakland Raiders are playing some decent ball now but that’s a fairly recent development. In fact, for years, they were the worst of the worst. Here’s a Football Flashback from Week 2 of the 2008 season.
How long has it been since the Raiders were good? It seems like a long time indeed. They actually represented the AFC in the Super Bowl just five years ago. In that game, they were blown out by the Buccaneers and Rich Gannon threw a Super Bowl record five interceptions. We may not have realized it at the time but that was a sign of things to come.
Back in the day, the Raiders were proud, feared and respected. They were one of the NFL’s storied franchises. These days, however, their story is more of the tabloid variety. Since their Super Bowl run, they have the lowest win percentage in the league at just .237, and they’ve had about as many new head coaches (4) as average wins in a season (4.21). Don’t look now but it appears another coaching change is imminent.
A season ago, Lane Kiffin became the youngest head coach in the history of the NFL. By season’s end, he clearly had the Raiders’ ship sailing in the right direction. With four wins, they’d doubled their win total from the previous year. However, the defense was still dreadful. Kiffin, who’d been told he would have full control of the team, wanted to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Al Davis, Raiders owner and puppet master, said no. In fact, he went so far as to ask his head coach to resign, even drawing up the paperwork for him. Kiffin refused to give up, and was still the Raiders’ main man when they opened their season against Denver last Monday night. Oakland lost 42 to 14 and the defense was virtually nonexistent. They didn’t record a sack, or intercept a pass, or knock down a pass, or even hurry the quarterback; not once. Most coaches would take full responsibility for something like that. Kiffin didn’t. He said, “For the most part, I let Rob do his thing over there. He has a belief in certain things and he has a conversation with the owner about that.” The Raiders did rebound for a Week 2 win over a very bad Chiefs team. Despite the win, Kiffin will likely still be out of a job sometime today. That’s assuming Al Davis can find someone foolish enough to take his place.
Incidentally, Kiffin was canned, replaced by Tom Cable, then Hue Jackson, Dennis Allen, Tony Sperano, and most recently, Jack Del Rio.
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