Once again the fall ritual has begun: the vital task of feeding the football fan on Sundays. Pro football means tension for player and fan alike. For those of us who don't actually participate in the conflict, this tension plus hunger leads to loud demands for food and drink.
Everyone has heard that much of the Redskins' success in recent seasons can be traced to the enthusiasm of the team's fans. Few know that this rooting power has been traced, in a confidential survey undertaken by the Dallas Cowboys, to the superior eating habits of Redskin supporters. For the players, strength and nourishment come from a training table meal well before the game. For the fans, the vital judgment is what to eat just before or during the contest.
The topic of Feeding the Fans is subdivided into two obvious categories: Home Feedings and Away Feedings. The preparation and logistics that go into a proper feed in the parking lot or stands of RFK Stadium are of such complexity that they should be considered separately. Providing food to the consumed around or near a television set is another matter. When the team is away, the cook is at home, so the culinary quarterback has many more options. (It also means those who watch college football on Saturdays or even choose not to watch the Redskins on Sundays might find something here. The chances are, however, Redskin cooks will execute these recipes best.)
After years of experimentation, it finally became clear to me that the essence of a successul football food presentation is flexibility. Trying to assemble everyone for a sit-down meal that will finish before kickoff is more difficult than getting a field goal unit on the field and im place without a timeout. Expecting people to wait until half-time or game's end is unfair. The present is now as far as a hungry football fan is concerned.
Therefore, food should either be cold (a good idea during the warm days early in the season) or, if hot, capable of surviving for some time in a slow cooker or chafing dish. It should present a minimum of last-minute effort for the cook, who - if a fan - will want to watch the game and if not a fan, will want, to be somewhere else. It should also be food that can be taken in large or small portions. Appetites on Sundays seem to vary in inverse proportion to Saturday night merry-making and may fluctuate unpredictably in relation to the excitement on screen.
Here, then, is a formula devised for the first away game. In the best traditions' of the Redskins, the meal was fashioned from leftovers, meats that had played starring roles in other recipes. Veal beef and chicken were cooked the day before to give flavor to stocks. The stocks are held in reserve, a secret weapon to be brought into play later in the season.
The veal and beef were sliced and arranged on a platter. The chicken became a chicken salad. Loaves of bread made from a simple but superb recipe could be sliced thinly or thickly. Two different mustards, butter, horseradish and homemade mayonnaise provided options for sandwichmakers. Two salads - lentil and cucumber - were on hand along with a plate of sliced tomatoes. Fruit should have been on the table as well, an omission no one appeared to notice. Wine and beer were the beverage choices. (Football fans I know seem to prefer to drink beer from the bottle, which greatly reduces the glassware that has to be washed after the game.)
The meal, which fed seven and could have provided for 10, got the season off to a good start on the food front. The local 11's debut was considerably less successful, but good health is as necessary for the fans as for the players and with empty stomachs they might not have survived the pain of defeat. However, the next away game presents a problem. I don't know whether to change the menu lineup or go eith my veteran sandwiches until they produce a victory on the road. VEAL AND CHICKEN STOCK (Makes 2 quarts) 1 whole pice veal shank, about 4 pounds 2 veal knuckles, cut in half 2 pounds chicken backs and wings 1 pound carrots, washed and cut in chunks 1 pound onions, peeled and sliced Bouquet garni made from 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 4 or 5 sprigs parsley 1 chicken, 3 1/2 pounds or more
Wash veal shank and knuckles and place in an 8 quart pot. Cover with water to within a few inches of the top. Bring water to a boil, skimming scum as it rises to the surface. When scum is gone, lower heat to a casual simmer and partially cover pot. Cook for 8 hours, checking from time to time and adding water if level reaches meat and bones.
Remove veal shank and reserve. Refrigerate and use meat for sandwiches. Add chicken backs and wings, vegetables, bouquet garni and whole chicken and extra water as need. Bring liquid to a boil, skim scum, then simmer for 2 hours. Remove whole chicken meat for sandwiches or salad. Strain stock, discard bones and vegetables and clean pot. Return liquid and reduce over high heat by a third to a half to concentrate flavor. When it has cooled somewhat, refrigerate uncovered. When stock is completely cool, it may be covered. If storing or freezing the stock, do not remove the layer of fat that will form on the surface. It provides insulation against bacteria. Nonetheless, stocks not frozen must be brought to a boil every 3 to 4 days to prevent spoilage. Use for sauces. BEEF STOCK (Makes 3 to 4 quarts) 5 pounds beef bones 1 veal knuckle, split 1 chuck steak, about 4 1/2 pounds 1 pound carrots, washed and cut in chunks 1 pound onions, peeled and sliced Bouquet garni made from 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 rib celery with leaves, 2 cloves and 4 or 5 sprigs parsley
Wash bones and veal knuckle and place in a roasing pan. Cook in a 400-degree oven until well-browned, then transfer to a pot or kettle 12 quarts or larger. Cover with 8 quarts of water. Bring water to a boil and skim scum that rises to the surface. When scum is gone, lower heat to a casual simmer and partially cover pot. Cook or 12 hours (overnight if the stove is often in use).
Remove bones and discard. Add chuck steak and vegetables, which also may be browned in a little fat. Add water if there has been considerable loss through evaporation. Bring to a boil, skim scum and simmer partially-covered for 4 hours. Strain stock, clean pot and return liquid. Bring to boil and reduce by half to concentrate flavor. Reserve meat to use in sandwiches, a salad or reheated with a sauce. Discard vegetables. When stock is somewhat cool, refrigerate. Do not cover until completely cool. If it is not to be frozen, bring to a boil every three or four days to prevent spoilage. Use for soups, sauces or in cooking meats and vegetables. CHICKEN SALAD (A dozen or more sandwiches) 1 poached chicken, skinned and meat pulled from the bones 1 rib celery, minced 5 scallions, white part, minced 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or to taste 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or 2 tablespoons dry sherry and 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar Heavy grinding of black pepper 2 dashes cayenne pepper Salt to taste Chopped parsley
Cut chicken meat into half-inch cubes. Place in a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.Mix at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to blend. Retaste and adjust seasoning as desired. Sprinkle on chopped parsley as a garnish. LENTIL SALAD (At least 12 servings) 1 package (1 pound) dried lentils 1 onion, preferably red 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled 1 rib celery, cut in chunks 1 carrot, washed and cut in chunks 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs, such as thyme, basil, oregano 1 or 2 small ham hocks or a smoked pork chop 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper, or 1 or either, minced 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 to 3 tablespoons wine vinegar Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste 5 scallions, green part, minced
Cut onion in half. Place one piece in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the beans, garlic, celery, carrot, herbs and ham hocks. Cover with water or stock according to lentil package directions and cook until just tender. (This probably will be less time than the package indicates.)
Remove onion, celery and carrot pieces and discard. Remove bock and garlic and reserve. Mix oil into mustard in a small bowl, then stir in vinegar. Dress the hot lentils with this sauce. Remove meat form hock. Mince it and the cooked garlic and add to the lentils. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving, taste and correct seasoning and mix in scallions. CUCUMBER SALAD (About 10 servings) 3 large cucumber, peeled, halved and seeded Salt, preferably coarse or kosher 2 heaping tablespoons sour cream 2 heaping tablespoons mayonnaise, homemade preferred 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Dice cucumber and mix with salt in a bowl. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Pour off liquid and squeeze cucumber pieces. Taste. If salt taste is very strong, rinse them under cold water and pat dry on paper towels. Place in a bowl and toss with sour cream, mayonnaise and dill. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. ENGLISH LOAF BREAD (Makes 1 loaf) 1 package dry yeast 1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees) 3 to 4 cups bread or all-purpose flour (approximately) 2 heaping teaspoons coarse rock or sea salt 1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
Use 1 medium (8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch) loaf pan, greased or coated, metal or glass.
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Scoop 3 1/2 cups flour into a big, wide bowl. Fashion a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir the flour into the mixture with a large wooden spoon. Dissolve salt in 1 cup warm water and pour it over the flour. Mix the dough first with the spoon and then with the fingers. The mixture should clean the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too soft or wet, sprinkle on more flour, a tablespoon at a time.
Knead the dough in the bowl or on a loghtly-floured work surface for 2 minutes only. Round the dough into a ball, butter it lightly and place in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and put in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees) until it has doubled in bulk.
Do a second kneading for 5 minutes. The harder you treat the dough - throw it down hard against the counter - the better it will be. Flatten the dough in a rough circle with your hands - fold in half - pinch the seam tightly closed. Turn the loaf upright, seam down, and pat into shape before placing it in the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with a little flour. Cover the tin with waxed paper and return to the warm place until the edge of the dough has risen to the edge of the tin, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450-degrees. (If using glass, reduce oven temperatures by 25 degrees.) Place the bread in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake another 30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking period. It it should brown too swiftly, cover the loaf with a piece of brown wrapping paper. When fully baked it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom crust. If it feels soft, it is undercooked. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
Remove bread from oven and cool on a wire rack. When cool store in a plastic bag or a bread box.
- From "The Complete Book of Breads" (Simon and Schuster) by Bernard Clayton Jr.
Note: This recipe was doubled to 2 loaves withour difficulty. The text of the original has been compressed.