These March Madness Snacks are a Slam Dunk

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It’s that time of year again: March Madness. You’ve got your brackets filled out and your wagers set, and people are heading over for the game, but what to eat? It’s easy to order a couple of fast food pizzas or a rubbery deli plate from the grocery store, but we have recipes from some of the country’s top chefs for food that will make you a winner no matter the outcome of the game.  From Frito Pie, to wings, to fried chicken, here are classic foods with a chef’s twist.

Chef Jason Dady of San Antonio, Texas, is the owner and chef of a ridiculous number of incredible restaurants: Tre Trattoria, Tre Enoteca, Two Bros. BBQ Market, The DUK Truck, B&D Icehouse, Shuck Shack, and his own catering company. He’s known for new takes on game day favorites, like the Tijuana Dog, which has bacon, lime cream, jalapeños, cilantro and pineapple, and he’s given us his recipe for Chopped Beef Frito Pie, a Texas favorite. It’s written out for 30 people, but it’s easy to scale back.

“Big Tex” Frito Pie Recipe


(Photo via Flickr)

Frito Pie for 30 People


  • 12 lb  Chopped Beef  (15 lb whole brisket)
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
  • 64 oz BBQ Sauce
  • 8 ea 10.25 oz Bags of Frito Corn Chips- Original Flavor (can also use Flamin’ Hot or Cheddar Cheese flavored
  • 3 lbs Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 lbs Cherry Tomatoes-Halved
  • 1 lb Jalapeño Peppers, Diced
  • 1 lb Scallions, chopped
  • 1 lb Red Onion, Small Diced
  • 6 Cilantro Bunches
  • 64 oz Sour Cream
  • 32 oz BBQ Sauce


  1. For chopped beef, stop by your favorite BBQ joint and buy a whole brisket (or smoke your own, big guy).
  2.  Using a large chef knife, chop beef into very small pieces and add to the 64 oz of BBQ sauce.
  3. Season as needed with salt and pepper, if needed. Set Aside.
  4. To Serve, heat chopped beef in large pan.
  5. Using a large 48 inch paella pan, open all bags of fritos and cover the bottom of the pan. It should be at least 2 inches deep of fritos, across the entire pan.
  6. Add the hot chopped beef, in the center of the fritos and spread across the entire pan.
  7. Garnish next with cheese, tomato, jalapeño, scallions, red onion.
  8. Chop the cilantro and sprinkle on top.
  9. Using a large spoon, place large dollops of sour cream randomly around the frito pie.
  10. To finish, drizzle with remaining 32 oz of BBQ sauce and have the most epic [game day] of all time.

Hunter’s Crispy Duck Wings

 Brennan’s of Houston Hunter’s-Crispy-Duck-Wings

Our next recipe also hails from Texas: Chef Danny Trace of Brennan’s of Houston. He makes probably the fanciest and most delicious nachos of all time, Blue Crab and Caviar Nachos with fire-roasted corn, St. Andre queso, avocado, mirliton pico de gallo, lime crema, and topped with Petrossian caviar, but we recommend you make his Crispy Duck Wings, which are a deliciously surprising alternative to the classic chicken wing offering.

Since this recipe is a little more complicated than most, and requires essentially three separate small dishes, we’ve formatted this recipe beginning with the three individual recipes (braised wings, five pepper jelly, and crystal hot sauce beurre blanc) that must be completed first before the real cooking can begin. We ended this section with the method for putting it all together to create some of the best fried duck wings you’ve ever tasted.

Yield: 4 Appetizer Servings

Braised Duck Wings



  • 8 Duck Wings
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tbsp Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Carrot, Chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
  • 2 Onions, Diced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 gallon Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • ¼ cup Grape Seed Oil


  1. Season the duck wings with the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. Turn a large stock pot on medium high heat, add wings and sear on both sides.
  3. Add the carrots, bay leaves, onion and celery.
  4. Deglaze with red wine.
  5. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil and cut down to a simmer.
  6. Cook for two hours and reserve wings.

Five Pepper Jelly

  • 1 1/2 cups Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups White Vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 Each Red, Yellow, Green Bell Pepper, Seeded and Brunoise
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper, Seeded and Brunoise
  • Salt and Black Pepper (to taste)


  1. Place the corn syrup, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper in a small sauce pan.
  2. Simmer to reduce by two thirds, until mixture is thickened.
  3. Add the rest of the peppers and keep warm.

Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc



  • 1/3 cup Crystal Hot Sauce (or your favorite)
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream
  • 6 tbs Unsalted Butter


  1. Place the hot sauce and cream in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer until reduced by half, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from heat and slowly whip the softened butter a bit at a time into the pan, being careful not to let the sauce break.

Putting it All Together


  • 1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil
  • 8 Rohan Or Peking Duck Wings, Braised (See Recipe Above)
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Crystal Hot Sauce Beurre Blanc (See Recipe Above)
  • 1/4 cup Five Pepper Jelly (See Recipe Above)
  • 12 Pickled Okra
  • 1 bunch Frisée Lettuce
  • Creole seasoning (to taste)

For The Crispy Wings

  1. Combine flour with the creole seasoning and lightly dredge each duck wing.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and fry the wings in the hot oil for about 30 seconds on each side. Once fully cooked, remove the wings and drain briefly on a paper towel.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the duck wings with the crystal hot sauce beurre blanc and coat thoroughly.
  4. Place a portion of the five pepper jelly on 4 plates. In the middle of the plate add the frisée salad. Arrange 2 duck wings on top with the pickled okra.

Fried Chicken Tatsuage


The fried chicken offering comes from a Japanese restaurant! ROKU in West Hollywood is famous for traditional Japanese cuisine, like sushi and teppanyaki, but they also take seriously delicious creative license with finger foods.


  •    11 oz portion chicken leg meat or thigh meat boneless (yields 10-1oz pieces)
  •    2 cups Marinate (see below)
  •    1 cup all-purpose flour
  •    3 cups canola oil
  •    3 thin slices of jalapeño rinsed
  •    Salt


  •    2 cup soy sauce
  •    1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  •    1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  •    1 tablespoon Sriracha
  •    2 egg whites
  •    ¼ cup sesame oil

Spicy Ponzu

  •    1 cup cooking sake
  •    1 cup mirin
  •    1 cup ponzu
  •    ¼ cup sambal chili paste
  •    1 tablespoon potato starch (katakuriko)


  1.     Trim all the fat from the dark meat chicken.
  2.     Portion dark meat chicken into 1 ounce portions.  Roughly ½ inch thick.
  3.     In a bowl combine all ingredients for the marinate and mix with a whisk until completely incorporated.
  4.     Place clean and portioned chicken into the marinate and submerge.  Allow chicken to sit in the marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes but overnight is best.
  5.     In a sauce pot combine all ingredients for the spicy ponzu and mix thoroughly with a whisk.
  6.     Next whisk the sauce over medium low heat for until completely smooth and leave on simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Once sauce thickens continue to whisk for 2-3 more minutes over low heat in order to fully cook the starch.  Reserve the sauce for later.
  7.     Next into a shallow pot or large sauté pan, pour in your canola oil and heat up on medium heat.  Depending on whether you choose a sauté pan or pot you may need more or less oil.  You do not want to over fill your pan or pot.  The oil should not be more than half way up the pan or pot.
  8.     Using a thermometer, that can be picked up at any grocery store, adjust the heat to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees F.  Make sure to use a thermometer that can withstand a maximum of at least 400 degrees F.
  9.     Once your oil is hot and at 350 degrees F, remove your chicken from the marinate and in a separate bowl dredge the chicken portions with all-purpose flour.  Once the chicken is completely coated, lightly shake off any excess flour as you slowly add it to the oil.  After a couple minutes flip the chicken in order to check for golden brown coloring and continue to cook the opposite side.
  10.   Once the chicken is nice and golden brown on both sides remove one piece from the oil and inject the thermometer to see if the internal temperature of your chicken is a minimum of 160 degrees F.  If it has reached a minimum of 160 degrees it is finished and you can continue to remove the remaining chicken from the oil.
  11.   Place the chicken in a metal strainer to remove excess oil and then season lightly with salt.
  12.   Next in a separate bowl add the cooked chicken and roughly 2 ounces of the warm spicy ponzu.  Lightly toss the chicken in the sauce with a spoon and it is ready to serve.
  13.   On a plate place the sauced chicken and garnish with sliced jalapenos.   
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