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I love sports. One of the first dates my husband and I went to was a hockey game between our two favorite teams, both of us wearing our respective jerseys (and my team won). I have season tickets to my college team and never miss a game, watching on tv when I can’t be there in person. I’ve spent more than my fair share of time on the diamond, both playing and watching.
So when Mister Man picked up a basketball for the first time in October and decided that he loves basketball, you’d think I’d be thrilled, right? He has practices or games 8 or 9 times a week right now (yes, that means more than once a day three days a week – and he loves it), and when he’s home, he wants to watch it all.the.time.
But here’s my dirty little secret. Basketball? It’s just not my thing. Give me any other sports, and I’ll sit with you all day cheering and loving it. That said, I’m not going to say or do anything to dampen his enthusiasm. This is his first interest in team sports where he hasn’t simply said, “I’m not good at ____” and given up.
That means I’m spending more time watching basketball since I was a cheerleader in high school. And of course, that means that I’m making it into an event and providing a good spread, which gives me additional entertainment beyond what’s on the screen. And with tournament season approaching, I took the opportunity to perfect some of my favorite game day grub.
I already have my traditional football food. I feel like basketball food should be different, so when I went shopping at Walmart last week, I did a little wandering to see what would inspire me. As I passed the frozen potato section, the Alexia products caught my eye. After all, potatoes are the perfect blank canvas, so I picked up the sweet potato fries (with sea salt because the wee ones prefer them to the spicy sweet potato fries), the crinkle cut fries, and – my personal favorite – the panko-breaded onion rings.
It took me a little while to decide what to do with the potatoes. They’re so versatile, and you can use them in so many ways, I almost couldn’t decide on just one! After all, the wee ones tend to like things without many sauces, but I wanted something that guests would enjoy, too. Another key factor was including some protein to turn an afternoon in front of the tv watching basketball into a meal. Finally, I came up with inspiration. Pulled pork nachos was born.
I kept the sweet potato fries and the onion rings simple. The wee ones are happy to simply pick them up and eat them. In fact, some people (*cough* Mister Man *cough*) kept grabbing them, thinking that I wouldn’t notice. When I called him on it, he claimed it was a Jedi Mind Trick – and how can I not simply laugh and let him continue when that’s his creative response?
Rather than a traditional ketchup, I decided to serve mayonnaise with them. And of course, me being me, I couldn’t simply grab a jar of mayonnaise. Nope, if I’m serving mayonnaise to complement the Alexia sweet potato fries and onion rings.
Mayonnaise is surprisingly easy to make, no matter what tools you have to work with. It’s another great blank canvas, too, meaning you can add tons of flavor to it that matches your mood. This time, I made three varieties – three different ways. I left one mayo simple with just the traditional flavors of lemon and a little bit of salt (get creative with your salt – use a truffle salt or other flavored salt). A second mayo was my all-time favorite of horseradish mayo. The third was an Asian inspired mayo that took a couple tries to perfect but turned out delicious with the flavors of ginger and soy.
Regardless of how you make your mayonnaise, the key is ensuring that the oil is emulsified, which is what creates that thick, airy texture. Except when using the immersion blender (which is the easiest and my favorite method), make sure you add the oil very slowly so that it has a chance to emulsify. If you add it too fast, it simply doesn’t work as well. Even with the immersion blender, you can add all the ingredients but oil, turn on your blender and carefully pour the oil in slowly. The only reason I don’t use that method is that my mixing container is very narrow, and I’m not skilled enough to blend and pour my oil slowly without missing the container.
Traditionally, mayonnaise was made by hand. It requires a bowl and a whisk, something every kitchen should have. Add the egg, lemon juice, salt, and any flavorings you are using. Whisk them together until well blended and you no longer see the egg white or yolk as separate entities. While still whisking, slowly drizzle in the oil, being sure it’s getting incorporated into the liquid. If you’re seeing drops of oil remaining, drizzle more slowly. Once all your oil is added, continue to whisk until the mayonnaise has thickened somewhat. It won’t be as thick as store bought, but once you put it in the fridge, it will set up more and be thicker. You can use it immediately or store it in a sealed container in your fridge for up to a week.
If you have a food processor, you can make your mayonnaise in that, as well. It’s much faster than making it by hand, although you don’t build up the same forearm muscles that you do wielding a whisk. Again, add the egg, lemon, salt, and any other ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until it is well combined. Scrape down the sides to ensure all the liquid is mixed with the oil. While the motor is running, drizzle the oil. Once you’ve drizzled the oil, scrape down the sides again, then pulse a few times until it is a uniform texture. Again, you can eat it immediatelyor store for later.
My favorite method, as I mentioned, is the immersion blender, partly because it’s so cool to watch it emulsify so quickly from the bottom of the container on up. Simply add all the ingredients to your tall, narrow container, being sure the egg makes it to the bottom, then blend on the highest speed. Once the majority of the oil has been emulsified, pull the immersion blender slowly from the bottom of the container up towards the top to ensure that all the oil becomes a part of your mayo. And voila – homemade mayonnaise, no matter what tools you have in your kitchen.
The mayonnaise turned out so delicious, and having the three flavors to choose from made it fun for all of us to each the Alexia sweet potato fries and onion rings. It was super easy to give them a little variety and really make our basketball watching special.
Pulled Pork Nachos
As much as I (and my friends) love mayonnaise, it isn’t the wee ones’ favorite. And I can’t justify a meal where mayonnaise is the main ingredient. Nachos on the other hand… that’s a different story. And oh my word, pulled pork nachos? With the Alexia crinkle cut fries as the base and my crock pot pulled pork as the protein, all I needed was some of my homemade nacho cheese sauce (see I posted the recipe yesterday for a reason!) and favorite veggies to top it. The sweetly spicy taste of the pulled pork is a perfect complement to the crispy crinkle cut fries. Diced fresh tomatoes, sliced green onion, and I’m good to go.
Pulled pork nachos is a gorgeous dish to serve for company, in addition to being incredibly tasty. In fact, we may have made it more than once around here already. It’s so good, I just might add it to my football food rotation, too!
Homemade mayonnaise is incredibly easy to make, no matter what tools you have in the kitchen. Three ways to make mayonnaise.
- 1 large egg
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 c olive oil
- Place the egg, lemon juice, salt, and any flavorings into a bowl. Using a hand whisk, mix until it is thoroughly combined. While still whisking, slowly drizzle the oil into your egg mixture. Drizzle slowly enough that the oil is incorporated and emulsified rather than being mixed around. Once all the oil is added, continue to whisk until the mayo has thickened up a bit, another two to three minutes.
- Place the egg, lemon juice, salt, and any other ingredients in the bowl of your food processor. Turn on your food processor and mix for five seconds. Scrape down the bowl. While the motor is running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Once the oil is all added, turn off the food processor and again scrape down the bowl. Mix one last time to ensure the mixture is a uniform texture, but don't overwhip the mayo.
- Place all ingredients into a tall, narrow container. Place the immersion blender into your container all the way to the bottom. Mix at high speed until the mixture has emulsified, which will take seconds. As the bottom emulsifies, carefully and slowly raise the blender near the top to get all the oil in the container emulsified into your mayonnaise.
- Once your mayonnaise is made, you can serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to a week. Note that it will start out a little thinner than store bought mayonnaise but will firm up in the fridge.
To make horseradish mayo: Add 3 tablespoons well drained horseradish and 1 t whole grain mustard To make Asian inspired mayo: Add 1 T fresh grated ginger and 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce.