Bam! Emeril Lagasse on Game Grub Done Right

Stephanie Nolasco for Fox News Magazine

Emeril_0Summer may be over, but don’t toss aside the grill just yet. Fall is officially football season, and with that comes savoring some of the most mouthwatering dishes of the year. Just ask Emeril Lagasse. The celebrity chef loves autumn not just to cheer on his beloved Saints, but also to whip up some of his favorite dishes. And when he’s not too busy leading a gourmet game plan for his home get-togethers, he’s serving up some sinfully delicious delicacies, in, where else, Sin City.
We chatted with Lagasse about how to prepare some delicious game grub, why he can’t resist giving his meals a southern twist, and how you can easily jazz up your favorite dishes.
FNM: Let’s cut to the chase. What’s the one dish everyone should know how to make?
EL: A crispy grilled cheese sandwich. You can make it with your favorite type of cheese, from pimento cheese for a Southern twist to a more refined version with truffle cheese, prosciutto, and mushrooms.
FNM: Sounds simple enough, but how can we perfect it the Emeril way?
EL: Perfecting the sandwich starts with good quality bread and finishing with your favorite toppings. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
FNM: Your Las Vegas restaurant, Lagasse’s Stadium at the Venetian l Palazzo, is a popular sports bar on the strip. What are some of your favorite game night dishes?
EL: When I’m at home watching the Saints, I love to grill out with my family on our back patio. I mostly try to keep it lighter with fresh fish and chicken, but also love to grill burgers. I like to add provolone and avocado, as well as make my own orange habanero ketchup.
FNM: How can we ‘kick it up a notch?’
EL: Kick it up by playing around with the type of meat you use—try grilling a buffalo or lamb burger with homemade spreads.
FNM: What are some unusual but awesome dishes you should prepare for game night?
EL: If you’re having people over to watch the game, definitely make a dish that can feed a crowd and can also stay fresh for a long period of time. During the cooler months of autumn, I like to make a big pot of gumbo or chili. The soups are easy to share and your guests can continue snacking on throughout the game. Serve with a big piece of crusty French bread.
FNM: Everyone associates game night with beer, but your sports bar also offers cocktails. Do you believe cocktails can go head-to-head with traditional brews when it comes to game night with friends?
EL: Everyone has their go-to cocktail. For me, it’s a Bloody Mary. You can drink a Bloody Mary in the morning, afternoon, and night, so I see it as the ultimate game-day cocktail. At the Stadium, we like to add fresh horseradish, a little Worcestershire, and a squeeze of lime.
FNM: What’s the one dish everyone should serve for a game night that also happens to be your favorite?
EL: Ribs! You can grill or roast them in the oven. And everyone has their favorite style of barbecue sauce—sweet, sour, with vinegar, ketchup, mustard, or just a dry rub. At Lagasse’s Stadium, we do spice-rubbed baby back ribs served with Creole mustard coleslaw and homemade jalapeno cornbread.
FNM: A lot of your Vegas dishes have a southern twist. Why was it important for you to include this delicious element?
EL: I’ve spent most of my culinary career in New Orleans—a city known worldwide for its amazing food and culture. It seems everyone here is a cook and has a secret recipe. I wanted to bring some of those New Orleans flavors and hospitality to Las Vegas in a casual setting. The other biggest aspect New Orleanians can agree on is Saints football. Food and football go hand-in-hand here.
FNM: Which is your most surprising offering at the restaurant?
EL: While it’s definitely not surprising coming from me, I do think our Oyster Po-boy is a surprising menu item for a sports bar—especially in Las Vegas. The oysters are lightly fried and served on New Orleans French bread with a Creole mayonnaise. It’s definitely the dish to try here!
FNM: There are plenty of ladies who love their sport, but may also be watching calories. How can you prepare and enjoy game-night foods that won’t pack on the pounds?
EL: Serve your dips with celery sticks, cucumbers, and carrots rather than chips or crackers. You’ll still get the full flavor of the dips without the added calories from the chips.
FNM: Any advice for hosting the ultimate game night with friends that will become more epic than the game itself?
EL: I host friends and family over for dinner quite often at home, and the best evenings we’ve had are the ones when I’m able to relax and enjoy their company. Prepare your dishes ahead of time so that when your guests arrive, you aren’t stuck in the kitchen.
FNM: What’s next for you?
EL: My next cookbook—’Emeril’s Cooking with Power’—comes out in October. I’ve got 100 delicious recipes fit for your home cooking devices, like a slow cooker, pressure cooker, deep fryer, and more. And of course I’ll be judging ‘Top Chef’ this season in New Orleans! New Orleans is one of the best cities in the world for cuisine, and I’m thrilled to showcase the city and talented chef contestants this season.
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