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Aarón Sanchez on Popchips and Tailgating

Aarón Sanchez on Popchips and Tailgating

The Food Network star created awesome pairings for his dream tailgate

Beer, Popchips, delicious dishes—oh!—and the big game.

When we think of tailgating, we tend to think heavy, belly-busting recipes — and we usually don’t mind; nachos, beer dip, and burgers are typical game day fare. However, what if we could experience the same bold flavors that come from those dishes, sip great beers, and not have to worry about the calories? We would be very happy.

Food Network’s Aarón Sanchez loves to tailgate and obviously loves to cook. By pairing the flavor-packed Popchips tortilla chips with dishes and various varieties of beer, he was able to produce the same tastes as typical game day food with less fat and more fun. Here are his tips on how to score with Popchips and beer and his dream tailgate:

"Fall is my favorite time of year. As a chef, I can’t get enough of all the different flavors that come with the season — the vegetables, herbs, and spices. You can make so many delicious, flavorful dishes by letting the ingredients speak for themselves and manipulating them as little as possible."

It's also the start of football season and I’m a huge Saints fan! On Sundays, I love getting together with my friends and family to watch the games. My ideal tailgating party is pretty simple: lots of beer, and a variety of my favorite dips to go along with tortilla Popchips."

Aarón Sánchez's Dream Tailgating Chopped Basket

You've seen Chopped judges dish out unapologetically honest criticism to chefs and even take their places in the kitchen while cooking on After Hours, but they've never before had a say in what mandatory ingredients land in the mystery baskets. While there's no plans just yet to let the panel exercise this would-be-new power, you can be sure that some judges' picks would be more ordinary than others, while some would likely be too demanding to ever assign to competitors.

FN Dish caught up with longtime Chopped judge Aarón Sánchez at an event hosted by Ortega, where he was celebrating the start of tailgating season and his partnership with the Mexican food company, and he told FN Dish the four ingredients he'd include in the baskets if there were to be a tailgating-themed episode of Chopped. "I would definitely put some sort of jam, like a marmalade or some sort of preserves, so you could make a barbecue sauce," he said before adding, "I would do chicken necks for sure," in a creative twist on the classic chicken wing. "I would do some sort of spicy [ingredient], maybe chipotles in adobo ‘cause . they’d be awesome with the marmalade," he added. "Then I would do a blue cheese, then I would make a sauce."

What do you think of Aaron’s selections? Are they too simple, given the fierce competition of the show, or do you think these ingredients would give the competitors a run for their money? If you could choose four ingredients for a tailgating-themed basket, what would they be? Tell FN Dish in the comments below.

Chef Aaron Sanchez's 'Tortilla Popchips Recipes' celebrates the commencement of football season. The food guru points out in the post that Popchips are cropping up everywhere, and given their popularity during half time breaks, he has incorporated them into this series of savory dishes.

Sanchez's mouthwatering review covers grilled chicken cemitas, garlic-flavored chipotle, ceviche, crab dip and of course, a cheesy nacho snack. This Mexican style of cooking is one that Sanchez is quite familiar with, a talent that has come to the public fore in his Iron Chef America appearances.

Best of all is the simplicity of these Tortilla Popchips Recipes. Minimal preparation is required as the ingredients are mostly pre-made. Several of the platters are also served cold, easy to serve up at sport-themed parties.

Aarón Sánchez Tackles Tailgating

He may be a renowned chef, cookbook author and no-nonsense judge on Chopped, but when it comes to tailgating, Aarón Sánchez is just like every other footfall fan on game day. "Everyone thinks that, 'cause I'm a chef, I'm going to want all this really decadent stuff," Aarón told FN Dish recently. "No, sometimes you can't mess with the formula of a tailgate." We recently caught up with him in New York City at an event hosted by Ortega, where he was celebrating his partnership with the Mexican food company, and he explained that there should be just a few classic eats at every tailgate spread — not over-the-top dishes or fancy fare.

"Ideally you want things to be eat-with-your-hands. At tailgates I don't think there should be any silverware out," Aarón noted. "I always think that you need to have a nice variety, so, like, I always try to have something vegetarian, something with meat, something with chicken." Some of his favorites include turkey wings and nachos. "These are all essential elements in tailgating," he said, explaining that these fuss-free options are ideal for casual entertaining, as they take the worry out of properly timing a multiple-component meal. At this week's Ortega event, Aarón prepared several of his party-ready bites, including Sticky Salsa Turkey Wings (pictured above) and Mini Meatball Fiesta Flats (pictured below).

Afternoon Snack Recipe: Chili Lime Ceviche, in Anticipation of Tailgate Parties Everywhere

I'm headed to my first tailgate party of the season tomorrow--do you have one on your calendar? Here's a little recipe to get you in the spirit.

This ceviche recipe is from Chef Aaron Sanchez of Food Network--it's got a cool fall-ish feel (and uses new tortilla popchips, of which I'm fast becoming a fan). He says:

"Usually the fish in a ceviche is trimmed into large chunks, but for scooping up this tangy-sweet version with brightly flavored and spicy chili lim??n tortilla popchips, I've trimmed the fish into small cubes, 1/4- to 1/2-inch in size. The result not only makes a ceviche that's perfect for scooping, but also a speedy version that ɼooks' in the fresh lime juice in less than an hour."

1 pound fresh halibut filets (or any firm-fleshed white fish, such as haddock, red snapper or sea bass), diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup fresh lime juice (from approximately 8 to 10 limes)

1 fresh red Serrano chili, seeds discarded, chili thinly sliced

1 small mango, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 scallion, white and green parts thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

In a medium-sized glass bowl, combine the fish with the lime juice, Serrano and salt. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours. The fish cubes will "cook" in the lime juice until they are opaque.

Half an hour before serving, stir the mango, scallion, cilantro and olive oil into the ceviche. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes to let the flavors meld. Serve with chili lim??n tortilla popchips for scooping up the ceviche.

(Oh, and he also suggests enjoying it with a bottle of Bud Light!)

Are you a ceviche fan? What's your favorite tailgate fare?

Cooking With 'Chopped' Judge Aaron Sanchez

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

The actress shares quick and healthy recipes from her new cookbook.

The chefs share game day recipes that will score a touchdown at your viewing party.

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Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs with Spicy Cherry Relish

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Fresh cherries sautéed with a habanero chile and balsamic vinegar are the zesty topping for spiral-cut hot dogs. For something else a little different, try our Banh Mi Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs recipe too.


  1. 1 Add the oil to a sauté pan on medium heat, then add the cherries, chile, and balsamic vinegar. Sauté for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. 2 Meanwhile, spread a hot dog bun with Dijon mustard and fill it with a grilled spiral-cut hot dog. Spoon the balsamic cherries over the top. Repeat with the remaining buns and serve.

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Recipe Round-Ups

Bold Super Bowl Recipes from Chef Aarón Sánchez

Chef Aarón Sánchez of Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip has created these Super Bowl recipes to heat up football fans all over the country during Super Bowl weekend. Each recipe is easy to make. They feature a blend of Aarón’s signature style with the bold flavor of Tabasco®, for a touchdown moment in every bite. So start prepping for the Big Game Day with these delicious tailgate goodies.

Makes:About 20 tacos

For the Tacos:

8 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
1½ Tbsp. kosher salt
1½ Tbsp. cacao powder (or no-sugar-added cocoa powder)
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, more if needed
1 cup yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup red wine, preferably Madeira
4 cups beef stock
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1½ Tbsp. dried Mexican oregano
10 Tbsp. (1, 5-oz bottle) TABASCO® Original Red Sauce
Corn tortillas (soft or hard)
Chopped onions, for garnish
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

For the Mezcal-Lime Coleslaw:

¼ cup mezcal (or orange liqueur)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
1 pound (16-ounce package) store bought coleslaw mix
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Tacos:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
2. Lightly toast the chiles in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds on each side, just until they become fragrant, but not blackened. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
2. Season the beef with salt and cacao powder. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a dutch oven, or other heavy pot, with a lid over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the meat and sear for about 3 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid crowding if necessary, until the pieces have formed a uniformly brown crust. Add more oil to the pot, as needed, to prevent burning. When the pieces are ready, set aside on a plate.
4. Reduce the heat to medium. Using the same pot, add the onion, celery and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Pour in the wine and stock to deglaze the pan, making sure to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the toasted chiles and turn the heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the chiles have softened and are pliable.
6. Add the cumin, pepper, oregano, and Tabasco Sauce. Return the meat to the pot and cover. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.

For the Coleslaw:
1. Heat the mezcal in a sauté pan on medium heat until it flames (be careful because the flame can get pretty high!) and the alcohol burns off.
2. Once the flame dies down, add the sugar and heat until dissolved. Add the lime and orange juices bring to a boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat and let it cool.
3. In a large bowl, combine juice mixture with apple cider vinegar and cilantro, then toss in coleslaw mix and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Note: If you are using orange liqueur, combine all the liquid ingredients and sugar and reduce by half, then follow the remaining steps.

To Assemble:
1. Remove meat from the sauce with tongs. Using the tongs or forks shred the meat.
2. Strain the sauce, and once the meat has been shredded, incorporate some of the sauce back into the meat.
3. Taste and add salt, if necessary.
4. Build the tacos by adding the meat first and then coleslaw. Finish with chopped onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedge.

Created by Chef Aarón Sánchez of Paloma and Johnny Sánchez

Makes: 3 to 4 servings

For the Shrimp:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce, or more to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Grated zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. salt
16 extra-large shrimp, tail on
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Habanero Butter:
½ cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. TABASCO® Habanero Sauce, or more to taste

For the Shrimp:

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Pour the oil into a heavy, ovenproof medium saucepan and add the garlic. Cover the pot with foil, transfer to the oven, and cook until the garlic turns a nutty brown and is very soft (like cream cheese) for about 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and let the garlic and oil cool to room temperature.
3. Transfer the garlic and the now garlic-infused oil into a food processor or blender. Add the Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, cilantro, lime zest, and salt and puree until the mixture is very smooth.
4. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium heat.
5. Clean the shrimp and pat dry using a paper towel. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, 3 to 4 shrimp per skewer.
Tip: soak skewers in water prior to using to prevent them from burning.
6. Brush a generous amount of the sauce onto each side of the shrimp, then lightly season with salt and pepper. Cook on the grill for approximately 1-2 minutes on each side.

For the Habanero Butter:
Combine all the ingredients in a glass bowl and mix until well incorporated. For additional spice, lightly brush each side of the shrimp with the Habanero Butter while grilling, or serve with shrimp for dipping.

Created by Chef Aarón Sánchez of Paloma and Johnny Sánchez


Makes: 6 servings approx. 18 sliders

For the Meatballs:

½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
½ cup panko breadcrumbs
½ cup veal or beef stock, divided
¼ cup roasted and diced poblano peppers
½ cup minced carrots
½ cup chopped white or yellow onion, divided
6 Tbsp. grated Cotija cheese
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
10 Tbsp. (or 1, 5-oz bottle)TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce
18 slider buns, split horizontally
Cotija cheese, for garnish

For the Jalapeño Aioli:

1 cup mayonnaise
6 Tbsp. TABASCO® Green Jalapeño Sauce, or more to taste
10 mint leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Meatballs:

1.In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of stock, poblano peppers, carrots, ¼ cup of onions, Cotija cheese, egg, egg yolk, cilantro, parsley, salt and pepper.
2. Once mixed, use your hands to form 18, 2-inch balls. Set aside.
3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, fry meatballs until brown all over, turning as each side browns. Transfer to plate. Pour out the drippings from the skillet, and reserve.
4. Reduce heat to medium. Using the same skillet, add olive oil and sauté remaining ¼ cup onions and garlic until the onions just begin to brown, approximately 3-5 minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes and remaining ¼ cup stock. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the meatballs and Tabasco Chipotle Sauce.
6. Cover with a lid slightly ajar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

For the Jalapeño Aioli:
While the meatballs are cooking, place the mayonnaise, Tabasco Green Jalapeño Sauce and mint leaves into a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.

To Assemble the Sliders:
Lay out the bottoms of the slider rolls. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and place one on each roll, then drizzle with some of the tomato sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Spread the Jalapeño Aioli on the tops of each bun and cover. Serve immediately.

Created by Chef Aarón Sánchez of Paloma and Johnny Sánchez

Makes:2 servings

12 oz. Dos Equis Ambar
¼ cup lime juice
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. TABASCO® Original Red Sauce
¼ tsp. soy sauce
¼ cup tomato juice
2 pinches red pepper flakes or chili powder
Salt, for rim

Fill two salt-rimmed beer mugs with ice. In a pitcher, combine Dos Equis Ambar, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco Sauce, soy sauce and tomato juice and stir well. Pour into glasses and sprinkle with a pinch of red pepper or chili powder. Pour into glasses and sprinkle with a pinch of red pepper or chili powder.

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