The NFL Gameday Cookbook
By Ray Lampe aka Dr.BBQ
Published by Chronicle/Raincoast 2008, softcover, $27.95; 240 pages
The last Sunday in January is usually the biggest day of the year for fans of American football. But Superbowl celebrations also attract another big crowd — food lovers, judging by what Lampe offers in this book.

Football is heavily tied in to good eating, he says, and each NFL team’s fans has local favourites, including Philadelphia cheese steak sandwiches, Seattle salmon and vegetables in packages and Dallas stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon (recipes for each in the book). This year’s Super Bowl is in Tampa, Fla. and is between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, and fans of those two teams will no doubt be hauling out the wings and steak sandwiches and  barbecued chicken nachos and spicy spare ribs. Oh, and the icy cold beer.

Not surprisingly, given his nickname is Dr. BBQ, many of Lampe’s recipes get their mojo from the grill. And it has to be said. Most of this is “man” food: lots of meat, lots of heat, and lots of calories. Even something as healthy sounding as Lampe’s grapes and yogurt salad has sour cream, cream cheese and whipped topping as part of the mix. Sounds delicious, but forget the diet for one afternoon. Save the celery sticks (without the blue cheese dip though) for Monday and enjoy the feast.

What I find most appealing about this book are Lampe’s  notes on his favourite food hits in each football city. It’s like a mini-travelogue of what to seek out when you’re in Tampa (fresh seafood and anything Cuban) or Kansas City (steak and barbecue) or Baltimore (steamed crab and crab cakes) or any of the other major league football cities.

The recipes are divided into appetizers; soups, stews and chilis; sandwiches; entrees; side dishes; desserts; and drinks. They cover the gamut from traditional — grilled steak and mushrooms, barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, brats with beer, butter and onions — to the inspired — bloody mary wings, mac and cheese soup, barbecued chicken legs with raspberry-chipotle barbecue sauce. The following recipe is for a BLT sandwich that replaces the lettuce with grilled chicken thighs (I warned you about the man-food thing; Lampe doesn’t like lettuce and this is his substitute for it. Love it!)

BCT Sandwiches
2 tbsps. vegetable oil
2 tbsps. soy sauce
2 tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps. ketchup
1 tsp. black pepper

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
12 slices toast
12 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
12 thin slices tomato
Mayo, as needed

To make marinade, in medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Put the thighs in  zip-top bag or a glass container and pour marinade over them. Toss well to coat. Marinate in fridge for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight.

Prepare grill for cooking over direct medium heat. Remove thighs from marinade and grill for 12 to 15 minutes each, turning often or until they reach an internal temperature of 180F. Put each thigh on a piece of toast. Top each with 4 slices bacon and 2 slices of tomato. Spread a thin layer of mayo on the top slice of toast and put it on. Cut in half and serve. Makes 6 sandwiches.

– From The NFL Gameday Cookbook