2011-02-03 / Features

Tailgate Treat for the Big Game

Arguably no sporting event in the world is as ballyhooed as the Super Bowl. The championship game of the National Football League, the Super Bowl transcends geography every year, roping in viewers from across the globe, making the game one of television’s most-watched events.

For those heading to the big game this year or simply hosting their own Super Bowl party, the following recipe for “Thomas’ Marinated Gamecocks with Polenta” from Debbie Moose’s “Fan Fare” (Harvard Common Press) is perfectly suited for tailgate parties or get-togethers at home.

Thomas’ Marinated Gamecocks with Polenta

Serves 4

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 Cornish game hens
Polenta (at right)

1. Combine the honey, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, pepper, and water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until completely blended. Allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Use sharp kitchen shears to cut the game hens in half down the center of the back and breast, and place in a large zipper top plastic bag. Pour in the marinade, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

3. When ready to cook, prepare a medium low fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill.

4. Remove the hens from the marinade (discard the marinade) and grill until the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a sharp knife, about 5 minutes per side. Serve over the polenta.

2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
to taste

1. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Reduce the heat and cook until the garlic becomes opaque, about 30 seconds. Add the cornmeal, then whisk in the chicken broth and water. Add salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.

2. Whisk in the half-and-half. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more chicken broth or water. Whisk in the Parmesan, peas and basil. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve warm.

Note: Those heading to the game can prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken the day before. However, make the rest of the dish at the tailgate.

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