Lucinda Scala Quinn is probably the leading authority on cooking for guys. It’s a discipline she learned the hard way. “I live with four men,” she says, referring to her husband and sons. “And I have all brothers. It’s just surrounded me my whole life.” Now, with the big game just around the corner, she’s preparing the ultimate guy’s day of food for her family and quite possibly for yours. She’ll be working on her menu the week of the big event on Hallmark Channel’s Mad Hungry With Lucinda Scala Quinn. Below, you’ll see that it’s tasty, not terribly complicated and perfect for noshing while watching touchdowns and hollering about pass interference.
Quinn doesn’t mind spending game day in the kitchen, even if she’s been in the kitchen all week for Mad Hungry. “I have to admit this — I’m not a rabid football fan, although I’m a big sports fan,” she says. But even though she takes the point on dinner, she still involves the rest of her family. “It’s not like I’m cooking for them because they don’t cook for themselves,” she says. “I’ll make, for example, a big pot of chili. I have three or four favorite chili recipes and when I’m shopping, I’ll buy the ingredients, and then one or two of them will turn it into nachos. Things like that. So we put our heads together, because there’s just something about the hand-held food — the spiciness of it, the immediacy of it, how it’s served, what drinks are served with it — that makes everybody happy. So I’m happy to be a part of the planning and cooking when it’s convenient, but at the very least, we tag-team a little bit to get everything going.”
While Quinn and her family get it all going at their home, you can get things started at yours. Get out your shopping list and take a look at Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry menu for game day:
Cheddar Corn Bread
Serves 6 to 8
1 cup all-purpose ﬂour
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen, fresh or left over from a cooked cob)
2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the ﬂour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and cayenne. Blend in the milk, eggs and butter. Fold in the cheese, corn and the jalapeños, if using.
3. Place in a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet or a buttered 8-inch square baking pan and smooth over the top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Do not overbake or the corn bread will be dry. Cut into wedges or squares and serve hot.
5 dried red chilies (Mexican ancho, New Mexican Hatch or Anaheim)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper ﬂakes or pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped (optional)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, broken up, with juice
12 ounces beer
1 15-ounce can beans (pinto, kidney, black, or a combination), drained
1. In a dry large skillet over high heat, lightly toast both sides of the chilies for a few minutes. After roasting, remove from pan to slice open, then remove and discard the stem and seeds. Cover the chilies in boiling water and let soften for 5 minutes. In a blender or food processor, purée the chilies with enough soaking liquid to form a thick paste.
2. Heat the skillet again over medium-high heat, and then add the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat and add the beef and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally to pick up browned bits on the bottom of the pan as the moisture evaporates, about 15 minutes. If the meat is excessively fatty (your judgment call), spoon off some of the fat, but leave some for ﬂavor.
3. Stir in the cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chili paste, red pepper ﬂakes, oregano, bay leaf, jalapeños and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine well.
4. Add the tomatoes and beer and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add water if needed for desired consistency. Serve with preferred condiments and some combination of ﬁxings, such as grated cheese, sour cream, sliced avocados, chopped tomatoes, chopped onion or scallions, or minced cilantro. Garnish with salty tortilla chips or crumble in corn bread.
Cheesy Corn Snack
Makes 4 quarts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup popping corn kernels
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Heat a 4-quart pot with a tight-ﬁtting lid on the stove top. Add the oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pot. Get it hot enough to sizzle when a kernel hits the oil. Pour the corn in all at once, cover, and shake. Swirl the pot over the top of the burner once or twice until you hear the ﬁrst few kernels pop. Once the corn is popping, swirl the pot continuously until the popping stops. Or, use a popcorn maker if you want to. Dump the popcorn into a large bowl.
2. Pour the melted butter over the corn and toss well to fully coat the kernels. Sprinkle the cheese and salt over the corn and toss until everything is well combined.
Crunchy Sesame Chicken Wings
Makes 20 wings
20 chicken wings
3 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
Hot sauce, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the chicken wings in a large bowl. Add the eggs and toss to coat. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with baking parchment or coat the pan with oil.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sesame seeds, flour, salt, cayenne, bread crumbs, and garlic. Dip each wing into the sesame mixture to fully coat. Place the coated wings side by side on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Bake for 30 minutes and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Cook until the wings are golden brown and sizzling, 20 to 30 more minutes. Immediately remove the wings from the baking sheet while hot. Serve with hot sauce.
Photo: David Russell