A special game demands something more than hot dogs at the tailgate, and the National Hockey League game on New Years Day between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins was certainly special.
More than 70,000 people, the largest crowd ever for an NHL game, watched the game in Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Clockwise from bottom: Shrimp, pineapple, onion, yellow pepper skewers; chipotle-pineapple salsa; sharp Cheddar; chopped onion and cilantro; avocado; habanero peppers, just to frighten off Penguins fans; hamburger patties; Bloody Mary.
Before the puck dropped, though, we had a little nosh. It was hickory smoked cheddarburgers and grilled shrimp tacos with avocado and chipotle-pineapple salsa for our crew, backed up with bracing Delish! Bloody Marys and this bottled beverage they call beer. You might have heard of it.
The feed was special, indeed.
There’s no better return on your parking-lot cooking investment than smoked burgers. There’s only three ingredients: ground beef or chuck (20 percent fat works best); kosher salt; and a few hickory chips to drop on the hot coals.
Simply form the patties, salt copiously, and place on the hot grill. When they’re ready to turn, flip them gently and top with sliced cheddar if desired. Drop in a few chips and close the lid (with an open vent). A few minutes later, the burgers will be smoked and the cheese melted. People will thank you.
Shrimp skewers are a standard at my house, but I decided to add grilled pineapple to these for a Mexican touch. I learned that you don’t want to marinate shrimp overnight with pineapple, as the enzymes will make the crustaceans softer than I like.
Next time I’ll just grill skewers of the pineapple separately and add a few chunks to each taco.
True confessions: the chipotle-pineapple salsa was Goya Tacqueria salsa punched up with minced fresh pineapple,which was a cheat that worked just fine.
1 pound shrimp, peeled
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup yellow peppers, cut about 1 inch square
1/2 cup white onions, cut about 1 inch square
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
Put everything but the pineapple in a bowl and mix it up well. Skewer, alternating shrimp and combinations of the peppers and onions. Skewer the shrimp separately. Grill and scatter over grilled tortillas. Top with thin slices of ripe avocado, chipotle-pineapple salsa and chopped onion and cilantro.