For the second year in a row, we hosted the Monday Night Gamers for a day of eating, gaming, and more eating, leading up the season premiere of HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” We wanted something relatively simple for lunch and nice (but not too complicated) for dinner to make nice bookends around the 6 or so hours of exploring The Four Kingdoms of Therduin.
After a trip, of all places, to Chik-Fil-A, we were inspired by the chicken/cole slaw combo. Slaw is already frequently paired with pork barbecue, so why not chicken? Here’s how the menu ended up:
Pulled Chicken BBQ
Homemade Cole Slaw
Old Bay Oven Chips
We made the chicken the night before. We used split breasts (6 of them) with the rib still on them. We think the meat stays juicier. We simply coated them with oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled. About ten minutes before they were done, I basted them with Sweet Baby Ray’s Spicy Sweet BBQ sauce. When they came off the grill, I pulled off the skins and slathered them again with sauce. After letting them cool enough to handle, I stripped the meat off of the bone with two forks, giving it a shredded quality that you often associate with BBQ. I put the meat in the crock pot, covered with more Sweet Baby Ray’s, and put it away for the night. The next morning, we turned the crock pot on, letting it come up to temperature slowly.
We served the BBQ sandwiches on Pepperidge Farm’s Onion Rolls with a dollop of the cole slaw, a nice slice of white onion, and an optional few drops of “Smack My Ass and Call Me Santa” hot sauce from local chain Tijuana Flats.
For the slaw, we simply used an 8 oz bag of slaw mix, but came up with the dressing ourselves, nicking the chipotle idea from Tyler Florence knowing that we wanted it to have quite a bite to it (and it did!).
COLE SLAW DRESSING
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground chipotle
½ cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Oven chips are simply thinly-sliced potatoes, a little thicker than you’d use for scalloped potatoes, oiled and salted, then roasted at 375F for 15 minutes or so. When they came out, we sprinkled them liberally with Old Bay, and we had a side dish.
We wanted dinner to be simple enough that it didn’t interrupt the gaming, so we settled on:
We made the twice-bakes on Saturday and stored them overnight in the fridge. Targeting a 7:30pm dinner, I pulled the steaks out at 4pm. I rubbed them with Penzey’s Chicago Steak Seasoning, working the spices deeply into the meat. At about 6, I came back out and rubbed the steaks with good olive oil. Gretchyn put the twice-bakes in around 6:45, and prepped the asparagus (olive oil, salt, pepper—sometimes I’ll also grate some good parmigiano-reggiano on top), which she put into the oven at 400F for 20 minutes, about 10 minutes before I put the steaks on the grill. On a hot grill, even nice, thick rib-eyes don’t take more than a few minutes to cook, but I wanted them to rest a little after they came off.
3 extra large russet potatoes
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
¼ cup chive, freshly chopped
Bake potatoes at 410F for 70 minutes
Scoop out potato meat
Blend with other ingredients
Stuff, sprinkle with smoked paprika
Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes
The twice-bakes are just that simple, and always a crowd-pleaser. To get a nice, creamy texture, we mix everything in the stand mixer. On occasion, we’ve added some crisped pancetta to the mix, and bacon is certainly not out of the question.
For wine, I wanted something different and something special. Different came in the cloak of 2004 Beaucanon Trifecta, a great gift from new friends Chad and Cathy, who had just been over for the first time a few days earlier. It’s a California Bordeaux-style blend, heavy on the Cabernet Franc, which I absolutely love. Rich, red fruit, a hint of chocolate, a hint of tobacco, a little something toasty, and modest tannins made it the perfect wine to start with. Multi-layered and complex, it’s a wine I’d drink again, and would lead me to explore Beaucanon wines in general.
For special, I opened the first of our 2007 Bressler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. I asked winemaker Bob Bressler if it was ready, he said yes, so we went for it. It was intentionally a stark contrast to the Beaucanon blend, and designed to be the wine that “went with” the steak, given Cab’s relatively large tannic profile, which I think goes perfectly with the fat in a good rib-eye. The wine was a little more feminine than I had expected, pleasantly so. The fruit was rich without being cloying, and the tannins were well-balanced, and there were enough spice and tobacco notes, as well as some rich chocolate undertones to make it far less monolithic than most Cali Cabs. We decanted it about an hour, and it was fully opened. It continued to develop in the decanter, taking on an even subtler, richer quality. I’m looking forward to seeing how this really nice effort continues to develop in the bottle. I suspect that it will age quite nicely.
We made a strawberry trifle for dessert, although we had actually broken into it for an afternoon snack (the guys wanted a little something while I was initially working with the steaks). We had some trifle and some chocolate chip banana bread that Keith, one of the Monday Night Gamers, had made and brought along.
Everything was cleaned and put away and the last of the wine in glasses as we sat down to watch the season premiere (we’re such nerds that we considered watching it again, but “need to go to work tomorrow” heads prevailed. The episode was the perfect exclamation point for our Day of Thrones.