Mailbag: Cole’d Takes – Food & Tailgating

Cole’d Takes – Food & Tailgating  // @colewagoner

I missed the Washington game because I was at dinner with my favorite chef in the whole world.

It was the best decision I’ve made in ages. 1) He’s my favorite chef in the world 2) If a long streak ends and you don’t physically watch it, did it really end? There were a lot of people there who were following the Alabama-Arkansas game while Hors d’oeuvres were being passed around. I mentioned my team was down 28-0, had another grilled oyster with with ‘nduja, which is essentially spreadable salumi (!!!!), and went on about my evening. It’s on the DVR, I’ll never watch it. So…Ducks are on a bye this week, the matchups are less than desirable, and if you’re in Oregon it’s apparently supposed to rain a whole bunch. Side note: I miss the rain and gray.
You rule, Oregon (the state, clearly not the team) Back to food. This Saturday is meant to sit at home all day and cook some top notch (not in a crock pot, for the love of God) game day food.
Hugh from Portland:
What are some good one pot meals?
Let me start here by saying crock-pots have a place. I’ve never had to cook for a family, on a schedule, or anything of the sort. I see the appeal of dumping ingredients and coming home to dinner, and I undoubtedly would prefer that versus takeout. That said, if you’re at home all day, there’s no reason to use one, ever. My ISSUE with crock-pots, and their supporters, is that they lead to believe that a crock-pot does something BETTER than other methods. You, my friends and loyal readers, have been misled by some genius marketing exec. Do you have a stock pot or Dutch oven with a lid? Congrats, you have a manual crock-pot.  Vintage, if you will. Now, donate that crockpot to Goodwill where some college student will buy it and subscribe to /r/slowcooking, and slowly wither their life away. Enough sass, let’s cook.
Stews and soups! Learning techniques and flavors is way more beneficial long term than learning recipes. Recipes are fine, and super helpful, but we never stray and often couldn’t replicate it without reading it word for word again. What have you learned? Not much, I’m guessing. With stews and soups, the possibilities are literally endless and the technique and processes are almost identical no matter the meat/veggies/stock you use. Let’s break this down a bit. Brown your meat. This could be beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, deer, elk…literally anything (if anyone knows a good rabbit monger, please give them my contact info). Seasoning liberally with salt and browning the meat is the first step to FlavorTown © Guy Fieri. This will achieve the
Maillard reaction, which is that beautiful crust that makes any meat taste better. After this, sauté some veggies. Carrots, celery, onion being the Big 3. They sound boring, but together, form a great base for many dishes.
So at this point we have heated up a big pot, thrown in some cubed meat until crusty and brown and thrown some roughly diced veggies in. I’m confident everyone can handle that. Let the veggies sweat a few minutes until just softened, but not browned. These next steps are where it gets fun. Depending on if your goal is to make a soup or stew, the liquid level is really the deciding factor. A good liquid flavor base will make your dish. I always recommend homemade stocks, but they aren’t always feasible, so canned stock is fine. Try homemade stock here when you get the chance, change nothing else, and you will be very happy. Cover your veggies and meats with the stock, add desired seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, etc etc. TASTE AS YOU GO! I’m usually not hungry after I make a stew because I’ve eaten so much along the way, checking for seasoning. You’re going to fail miserably at least twice, like an Oregon linebacker in space, but you’ll be better for it unlike them! So, to recap, brown meat, sweat veggies, add stock. Let the meat continue to cook until tender (2 hours or so) and liquid is at the desired level, and eat.
Use flavors that you know and love! Remember than steak you got that had a great red wine sauce? Add a half bottle of your favorite red to the pot. Use some short ribs, throw some baby red potatoes, mushrooms, and shallots in there and get buck wild. Want a hearty chicken noodle? Throw a whole rotisserie chicken in a pot of water for a few hours, remove and shred the chicken, add to the pot, add the Big 3 and some packaged egg noodles and enjoy. Hopefully by now, some 700 words later, you have some rough idea of what you are doing! Make these, and tag me on Instagram (@colewagoner) after using at least 20 hashtags.
Josh from Florence, AL asks:
How about “easy stuff that makes you look like a hero” foods that are delicious and that most people would think are very difficult to cook but in reality are so simple to do?
This is a question I get a lot, so let’s tackle it! Football pun! It’s hard in a way, because I don’t know everyone’s skill level, but let’s just assume everyone can cook as well as my wife, which is…it’s fine. This is fine.
Making this game day “appropriate” is a challenge, but I’m going to stick with my answer anytime I get asked this: Roast Chicken. You start with this slimy, pale chicken and turn it into a beautiful golden bird.
If you can start this process a night early, the results are even better. Take the whole chicken and cover liberally with salt, and place in the fridge on a baking sheet, uncovered, overnight.
The next day, rinse the chicken, DRY IT REALLY WELL (more on this later), and place back on the baking rack then season with salt, pepper, and thyme. If you can elevate the bottom with some airflow beneath, even better. Preheat the oven to 425F, and roast for about 90 minutes.
Internal temp of the breasts should be 165F, but around 90 minutes is a good start. If you don’t own an instant read thermometer, I honestly pity you. A great one can be obtained for around
$20, and will last a long time. Possibly the single greatest tool a home cook can have. Onto the science…
The first of two big reasons this recipe will work great is the dry brine the night before. You’re literally rubbing salt on a chicken. That’s it. The chemical magic that takes place overnight makes the final product juicy and tender beyond belief. The second reason: a super dry chicken before cooking. Nobody wants a soggy chicken skin, and moisture is our biggest enemy here.
Dry the chicken, let it rest for a few minutes, dry it again, and then repeat. You’ll use a 1/4 roll of paper towels, and it will be totally worth it. Roasting at a relatively high temp of 425F will make that skin SO crispy.


That’s it…it’s done. Salt, rinse, dry, season, and roast. Total hands on time with this dish is probably less than 15 minutes. It’s a home run. Is it game day food? Maybe not traditionally, but it can be. If you serve roast chicken on game day, I want to be friends. As an addendum, this recipe is identical if you want to sub a whole duck for the chicken. It’s even more delicious, and Jake Browning won’t score 8 touchdowns while you’re eating it.