The Football Foodie is dead, long live Foodball.
Earlier this week, I accidentally typed “foodball” instead of “football” about three times while writing about Shonn Greene’s empty locker. I could have kicked myself. Going into the seventh season of writing the Football Foodie, I finally found a name I liked.
See the thing is, way back when I started the Football Foodie on a small little site called Ladies… (run with luminaries such as Grantland writer Holly Anderson, comedian Jelisa Castrodale, bon vivant Texas Gal, tennis expert SA, beautiful Miss Clare, hilarious Metsy and television critic Andrea Reiher), the word “foodie” was always meant as a joke. Of course none of the food I was presenting was fancy — okay, maybe the pork belly tacos were a bit fancy — but the name “Football Foodie” was always meant to be firmly tongue-in-check. (Also I am a lazy writer who loves alliteration.) Unfortunately over the past seven years the “foodie” grew to have a negative connotation; hipsters in pop-up restaurants Instagramming locavore humane foie gras topped cronuts with Pappy Van Winkle reduction glazes. With each passing season it became harder and harder to put the word “foodie” in the title of my column, especially when writing about white chicken chili and beer cheese soup served with kielbasa & potato bakes. Football food isn’t foodie food, it is hearty, filling food meant to feed an entire tailgate or living room full of your family and friends. Food that gets you through and afternoon of drinking, yelling, cheering and yes, sometimes tears. Do you think you can maintain flipping between Falcons-Saints and Giants-Cowbotys while resetting your fantasy team for fifth time on nothing but a ramen burger? No. Of course not.
And as my colleague Holly said when I told her about changing the column’s name, “The word ‘foodie’ is used by too many assholes anyway.” We don’t want to thought of as assholes, that’s for sure.
Of course when I Googled the word “foodball”, I was reminded there was already a hilarious comic named The National Foodball League which features football players as food. Our own Burnsy even covered them last year over on With Leather. Clever. Not wanting to be the jerk that just takes a name someone else is already using, I reached out artist Will Riggins and asked if he minded sharing the term with my column. He could not have been nicer about my request, and for that I could not be more grateful. The series can finally shed its terrible title and focus on what matters; food and football.
2013 Foodball Kickoff: Roasted Mezcal Bloody Marys
As I said last season when I wrote about Pizza Bloody Marys, there isn’t a better cocktail for tailgating or for morning brunch football on the west coast than a bloody mary. Still a little hungover from Saturday night? Need just a few vegetables to jump-start your metabolism with a touch of salt to balance out your dehydrated body and some booze to soothe your headache? Want to have enough energy to make it through the first game of the day? The bloody mary mini-meal in a glass is the perfect solution to all of your problems.
This bloody recipe calls for a smoky mezcal, rich and earthy as any scotch you will find. When paired with roasted tomatillos, meaty heirloom tomatoes, the heat of poblano peppers and the brightness of cilantro and lime, you get a refreshing, bracing bloody mary to jumpstart your day. Want a little extra heat and extra smoke? Add a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to the blend, but honestly, I think the milder version pairs better with the mezcal. Poblanos have enough heat on their own to stand up to alcohol and tomatoes.
You will need:
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and cleaned
2 3/4 – 3 pounds tomatoes, preferably heirloom tomatoes
Canola or vegetable oil for pan roasting, about 1-2 tablespoons (optional, depending on how well-cured your cast iron skillet is or if you are using stainless steel)
2 poblano peppers
Small bunch of cilantro, about a dozen stems worth of cilantro leaves
Juice of one lime plus one or two extra limes for garnish
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce (optional for extra, extra heat and smoke)
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups smoky mezcal, mid-priced, like Sombra or Del Maguey Vida
Picked hot peppers for garnish
The reason why you want to use heirloom tomatoes if possible is they tend to me meatier, less watery than your average tomato and hold up much better to pan roasting, and frankly, they just taste better. You will get a thicker, richer bloody mary if you use heirlooms instead of the usual hot house tomato. (They also have far less seeds to deal with, which makes for a smoother cocktail without having to use a food mill.)
In a large cast iron skillet or large frying pan, heat a small amount of vegetable or canola oil if needed — no more than a teaspoon or so, depending on how well-cured your skillet is — to prevent sticking while cooking your tomatillos. Much like when making salsa verde, roast the tomatillos over medium-high until soft all the way through, about four minutes on each side. Once softened and charred, set in a large covered bowl while roasting the other vegetables for your bloody blend. Repeat the process with the heirloom tomatoes, which depending on size, can take about 5-7 minutes a side to soften.
While the tomatillos and tomatoes are roasting in the pan, roast the poblano peppers by either skewering them and cooking them over the open flame of a gas stove burner, or if you have an electric stove, roasting in a skillet like your tomatillos and tomatoes but without using any oil. You want the skin on all sides to blister and blacken. When the peppers have a nice char on them and have started to soften, put the poblanos in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or a brown paper bag for five to ten minutes to keep softening them via the trapped steam. Once cool enough to handle, scrape most of the charred skin off with a dull knife or a spoon, then slice the peppers open, removing the stem as you work, and scrape out the seeds.
In a food processor or a blender, blend together the roasted tomatillos, the poblano peppers, a small bunch of cilantro leaves, teaspoon each of kosher salt and cracked pepper and the juice of one good sized lime until liquified. Pour into a large bowl. Then liquify the roasted tomatoes and if using, the chipotle peppers in adobo, then add to the tomatillo mixture. If you want, you can run this mixture through a food mill to remove the seeds, but honestly, it’s not really worth the effort. Stir until will combined and cover.
Refrigerate the bloody mary mix overnight. If you taste the blend now and think the lime is overpowering, don’t worry, as the mixture rests the citrus will mellow.
When you are ready to make your bloody mary, make drink flags with a slice of lime and a pickled hot pepper for a garnish. Put a few ice cubes in a large glass and fill with 8 ounces of bloody mary mix and 2 ounces of mezcal. This is a cocktail where you don’t want to overdo it on the ice, as cold dampens the heat and the smokiness of the beverage, so a few ice cubes means only a few ice cubes.
Stir or shake well, garnish and serve.
The heat of the poblano hits at the end, building on the smokiness of the roasted tomatoes and mezcal with each sip. A little extra kick of lime from the garnish picks up the cilantro and tomatillo notes, while the hot pepper gives you something to cry about other than the lack o-line in Pittsburgh, or worse, that you’re watching the Browns-Dolphins game.
Yields 5-6 drinks.