Your grand-final grub, sorted.
TWO codes, two premierships, two grand finals – next weekend is a feast for those of us who love odd-shaped balls. The big question is what to serve fellow footie fans on the big day. With extensive experience in my kids’ footy club canteen, as well as three seasons working with one of the world’s greatest football clubs on their president’s lunch, I’ve got a little bit of insight.
Let’s set a few ground rules. Firstly, whatever you serve should never get in the way of you joining with your mates to shout at the telly for as much of the game as possible. Secondly, give all the dishes nicknames as homage to the two Tyrannosaurus Rexes of commentary, Hunt and Mossop.
While it’s great to serve pulled hammy and pineapple pizza, or have a plate of apple turnovers to offer rival fans when their players drop the ball along with the immortal words, “another turnover?”, if it can’t be served with sauce it has no place on a footy menu.
So party pies and sausage rolls are a must but call them 40/20 pies or, well, actually “sausage roll” is already AFL slang for a goal, so there’s no need to be cute with a nickname here as the job’s already done!
BIFF BURGERS WITH ADDED PUNCH
Form a 3:1 ratio of coarse ground beef brisket and smoked bacon into wide, flat burgers. Fry hard, on a well preheated BBQ grill or frypan. When one side is crusty, flip, lay on a cheese square, cover the pan and finish cooking. Leave in the warm pan until needed.
Toast thin slices of bread – two slices in each slot – to double your toast production during half time. Place a burger on the soft sides of the toast with pickled chillies, iceberg lettuce and mayo or, instead of greens, a bit of claret sauce or horseradish. Encourage your friends to dig in with the immortal words, “Go the biff (burgers).”
There is nothing AFL fans love more than howling “BALL!” at the umpire when an opposition player gets nailed in a tackle.
Let everyone marvel at your ball-handling skills and make a huge mound of meatballs. Season with lemon juice, a generous pinch of salt and serve with toothpicks and sauce.
Or dust with dukkah and serve with a dipping sauce of Greek yoghurt whipped with crushed feta and finely sliced mint. Put a pile of cucumber batons on the side for something green other than the pitch.
It’s not obligatory to yell “BALL!” every time you take one, but you will.
INDIVIDUAL SHEPHERD’S PIES
The bump and the shepherd, while acts of gross villainy in other codes, are celebrated in Aussie Rules, so serving your mates individual shepherd’s pies baked in muffin tins (with a layer of sauce in between the lamb mince and the mash topping) is wonderfully appropriate.
If serving to NRL fans, call them 1907s and suggest (but never outright claim) that shepherd’s pie was on the menu at the Bateman’s Crystal Hotel in George St on that fateful August 8.
COCA-COLA CHICKEN WINGS
My maroon-wearing chums from Townsville tell me that winning the NRL grand final is all about the wings and there is no better set-and-forget recipe for wing success than this one.
Serve these sticky wings in the second half with rum and cokes, sauce on the side and lots of napkins.
Note that this is a pretty evil recipe so make it only once a year, ideally on grand final day. You’ll find my recipe online at delicious.com.au.
Stir a good dollop of mascarpone, grated parmesan and the finely sliced whites of spring onions through freshly drained small grained pasta like risoni or orzo. Rain with insults – or black pepper – when dishing up. For this one, though, keep the sauce on the side.