Anne's Ultimate Game-Day Menu: "My Friends Don't Request — They Tell Me I Need to Make Them"

Hear from Anne and find out all about her Excellent Meatballs, a crowd-pleasing football food often demanded by her friends.
Anne Burrell

Photo by: Heidi Gutman ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Heidi Gutman, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Nachos, sliders, wings, dips and beer — for most, February's big-game day is a chance to indulge in the ultimate spread of snack food, and Anne Burrell is no exception. It brings "a license to go ahead and get down and dirty on all of the stuff I would not normally let myself eat all together," she recently told FN Dish. Among her must-haves at the tailgate is "a big pot of meatballs" — her Excellent Meatballs, in fact. Anne's friends practically demand these easy, saucy bites, and the secret to making them comes down to a basic rule: solid seasoning.

Read on below to hear more from Anne about her favorite football foods and how to make then, then find out what she'll be looking for at the concession stand when she travels to Glendale, Ariz., for the big game on Feb. 1.

It wouldn’t be game day without _____ and _____.

Anne Burrell: It wouldn’t be game day without lots of friends and libations.

What does the tailgating spread look like at your house? What must-haves will you always enjoy during the game?

AB: Well, I have to say, I went to college in Buffalo, so I’m a huge fan of chicken wings — Buffalo style, of course. I feel like the big game day is a license to go ahead and get down and dirty on all of the stuff I would not normally let myself eat all together. Things like nachos. Tater Tots is another thing in there. A big pot of meatballs I always love — or a meatball sandwich — and I could always go for a batch of brownies. Good, chewy, gooey brownies.

Speaking of meatballs, your Excellent Meatballs are a fan favorite on

AB: That's exactly what they are: excellent meatballs. My friends don’t request — they tell me I need to make them. So you know I frequently make a big pot of meatballs to have in my house, not just on game day but on a Tuesday.

What's the secret to the recipe?

AB: It’s very important that you always have a moist meatball, and you need to do this by adding some water. You definitely cannot underseason your meatballs. Unfortunately, a big pot of underseasoned meatballs is a really sad thing. So to prevent that from happening, definitely always make a tester patty with your mix before you go into meatball production. Make it and eat it to make sure your seasoning is perfect. How do you know if it’s delicious unless you try it? That is a safety check — a QC, quality control — issue and a big preventative measure, and if you do that, you will be a rock star every single time.

What does your ultimate platter of nachos look like?

AB: You could put anything inside of a tortilla chip, as far as I’m concerned, as long as you have all of the components. I always like to make the perfect meat component. It takes me a long time to eat nachos, because I have to grab the chip and make sure it has all of the stuff on it. So whatever you're putting on your nacho chip, it definitely needs to have the meaty component. I like a cheesy component. I like the spicy component. I like a pickle-y kind of thing, whether it's a jalapeno or an onion, and then I definitely still like a creamy [component], like a sour cream or a Greek yogurt. I like to have that perfect composed bite on every chip. [Editor's note: Anne's Spicy Sausage Ragu Nachos with Pickled Onions has each of these components and more.]

You're known for bringing over-the-top flavor to each dish you make. What's the key to dressing up a basic guacamole?

AB: Well, I’m definitely a fan of a good acidic, limey guacamole. I like to put a good amount of tomatoes in. I’m not a huge fan of the garlic in guacamole. My super-secret guacamole flavor is sambal oelek. It is a Vietnamese chili paste, but it adds a perfect amount of spiciness with a really great flavor.

What will you be ordering at the concession stand in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 1?

AB: Every time I go to a big stadium in another city, I have to scan everything first to plan how I’m going to strategically approach it. So a lot of times when you’re in another city, they have things that are unique and special to that city. So I’m going to see if they have anything special to Phoenix or Arizona that I should try.

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