No one does March Madness like the Big Blue Nation. Am I right? From the Maui Invitational to the SEC tournament to the Championship Game: Wildcat fans bleed blue through & through. March Madness is one of the most exciting times in college basketball. The Cats have targets on their backs from all sides. I have no doubt, in those crunch time situations, the Big Blue Nation will be that Sixth Man. BBN will continue to lift their spirits from courtside to every sports bar and living-room watch party in Lexington, (hell, all of Kentucky for that matter).
This leads me to the next important decision, (after deciding of course on that upgrade for a curved TV just so you can see the best shot of Willie Cauley-Stein’s all-star dunk) What’s on the Menu?! You can’t have a pre-game party without the proper grub? (And I don’t mean chips paired with an assortment of ranch party dips) I’m talking about Grilled Bison Sliders with a Bourbon Beer Cheese, Marinated Red Onions & Smoky Bourbon Ketchup. (Yes Bourbon! Why not?) Pair your slider with some homemade old-fashioned popcorn drizzled in white chocolate with blue and white sprinkles in honor of our team colors? (Show some team spirit!) Take your party to an all-star level this season with my Ultimate Gourmet Game Day Bison Slider!
Ultimate Gourmet Game Day Bison Slider Bison Burger
1 lb ground bison (90% lean)
4 oz virgin olive oil
2 tbs minced garlic
4 tbs minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
8, 2½ inch diameter rolls or buns
2 oz butter
In a mixing bowl, combine meat, oil, garlic, parsley, and salt and pepper. Gently form 8, 2-ounce patties, approximately 1¼ inches thick and 2½ inches in diameter. Butter and toast buns.
Grill burgers until desired temperature (for medium rare, about 3 minutes per side).
To assemble, spread 1 tablespoon of bourbon beer cheese on the top bun, followed by onions. Place the burger on the bottom bun and top with smoky bourbon ketchup.
Smoky Bourbon Ketchup
So simple yet flavorful, with the bold flavor of BBQ and a hint of booziness from the bourbon. Perfect on fries, burgers and everything in between.
15 ounces tomato sauce (organic when possible)
1 5-ounce can tomato paste (organic when possible)
2-3 Tbs Bourbon
2-3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
1 shot of tabasco sauce
1 tsp of Chipotle Powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp worcestershire
1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
¼ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine. Cook until bubbly - about 5 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 15 more minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more bourbon for a more boozy flavor, brown sugar for added sweetness, vinegar for more tang, and liquid smoke extra smokiness.
Transfer to a jar and let cool before putting lid on. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2-3 weeks (probably longer).
Bourbon Beer Cheese
This also makes a great party dip!
12 oz flat stout beer
8 oz grated sharp cheddar
8 oz grated habanero cheddar ( or smoked gouda for less spicy)
¼ medium onion, minced
¼ tsp Tabasco or hot sauce
¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
Splash of Kentucky Bourbon
Pour beer into a glass and allow it to sit until it loses its effervescence. This could take up to an hour, but don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of time.
Combine all ingredients except beer in the food processor and pulse until slightly blended. Then turn on high and slowly pour the beer through the chute. Mixture will be soft, but will harden in the refrigerator.
Make one or two days ahead of time, as taste is better once flavors have time to blend. Serve in a ceramic crock or ramekin with pretzel rods, crackers, celery sticks, carrot sticks, and radishes.
Marinated Red Onions
Julienne onion from stem to blossom, ¹⁄8 inch thick.
In a mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in vinegar.
Add onions, season with salt and pepper. Let sit for 1 hour.