Burgers and hot dogs, pizza and pre-packaged dip and chips are standards for many football parties, but score extra points and become the party host champion with these recipes and entertaining tips from some local culinary pros.

  Mizado Cocina's chef de cuisine Eric Solar suggests mixing a pre-game batch of margaritas to start off activities. "Freshly squeezed lime juice actually tastes better two to three hours later," Solar says. It's also OK to mix guacamole ahead of time, he says, adding that the secret to keeping the avocados from turning brown is to drizzle in a small amount of good olive oil before mixing.

  At home, MoPho executive chef/partner Michael Gulotta makes his restaurant's signature crispy chicken wings, as well as grilled pork ribs, which he brushes with pepper jelly and serves with homemade pickled fruit and vegetables, marmalades and herbed purees. He livens up football parties with Jell-O shots made in the colors of the opposing team. "Every time the Saints score, we have to eat a shot of each color," he says.

  P.J. Haines, executive chef/owner of Food Drunk Food Truck and American Roadshow Catering suggests getting organized the night before the party by setting out serving dishes with a note of what's to go in each. You'll need to make the relish for Haines' chicken and waffle sandwich entree a few weeks in advance — and save the tomato juice from the recipe to use later in a pickling recipe or strained in a cocktail.

  Austin Kirzner, executive chef at Red Fish Grill, has a method for quick-cooling beers. "To ice them quickly, mix 1 tablespoon of salt for each gallon of water," he says. "Add ice, but maintain a 'soup-like' consistency." Another tip from Kirzner: When you're laying out platters, consider that "people gravitate to the kitchen, so place the food elsewhere to get guests to mingle."

Football party menu

• Cucumber-jalapeno margaritas

• Pistachio-guacamole appetizer

• Ginger and lemon grass wings appetizer

• Chicken and waffle sandwich with pickled green tomato relish and cane syrup cream

• Turtle pecan cheesecake

Cucumber-Jalapeno Margarita

Courtesy Mizado Cocina | Serves 1

1 jalapeno pepper, sliced thin

1 cucumber, quartered and sliced into rounds

1 ounce agave nectar

2 ounces tequila

1 ounce Cointreau

1-1/2 ounces lime juice, freshly squeezed

Kosher salt  Place one jalapeno round and four cucumber slices in a metal shaker. Add agave nectar and muddle for five seconds. Add tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and a scoop of ice and shake for five seconds. Strain into a glass with a salted rim. Garnish with the remainder of the jalapeno and cucumber.

Mopho Ginger and Lemon Grass Wings

Courtesy Mizado Cocina | Serves 8

Wing sauce

8 cups granulated sugar

2 cups water

1 head garlic, peeled and halved

2-inch long piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thick

4-inch piece of lemon grass, white base only, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorn, crushed

2 dried Thai chilies, crushed

3 pods star anise

1/2 stick Chinese cinnamon

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

1 cup Sambal Oelek chili paste (found in the Asian food section of any market)

2 cups fish sauce

Four limes, juiced with zest added

  In a 1-gallon stainless steel sauce pot, combine sugar and water (mixture should resemble wet sand). Set the pot over medium-high heat and insert a candy thermometer. Allow the syrup to simmer without stirring until it reaches 325 F on the thermometer. The syrup should be dark amber and very hot, so exercise caution. Keep sides of the pot clear of any dry sugar crystals; if they fall into the hot syrup, they will cause the caramel to recrystallize.

  Turn off the heat, remove the thermometer and carefully add the garlic halves, sliced ginger and sliced lemon grass. Gently stir the mixture, allowing the aromatics to toast in the hot caramel. Once the garlic is golden brown, about five minutes, fold in remaining ingredients except for the fish sauce and lime juice. Allow the spices to toast for another five minutes, then mix in the fish sauce and lime juice. Set the sauce aside for at least one hour (or overnight) to allow the flavors to mature. Brine the wings.

Cane citrus-brined fried chicken wings

2 quarts water

1/2 cup cane syrup

2 oranges or seasonal citrus, split

1 cup sugar

1 cup kosher salt

2 star anise pods<

1/2 stick Chinese cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 quarts ice

36 chicken wings, split into winglets and drumettes.

In a 1-gallon pot, warm together all ingredients except for the ice and chicken wings. Bring mixture to a simmer; remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Add ice to chill the mixture. Place the wings into a medium-sized, sanitized ice chest and cover with icy brine. Allow wings to brine for one hour, then drain the brine from the ice chest and rinse the wings lightly.

  Warm 2 quarts of the wing sauce.

  Fry wings following the recipe below.

To fry the wings you'll need:

The brined chicken wings

2 gallons canola oil

2 pounds rice flour

1/2 cup ginger, minced

1/2 cup garlic, minced

1/2 cup cilantro stems and leaves, chopped

4 limes, quartered

Sambal Oelek chili paste for added heat (optional)

Preheat a tabletop fryer or large pot of oil to 375 F. Toss the wings in the rice flour until they are well-coated, then place them in the fryer. Work in manageable batches, about eight wings at a time, depending on the size of the fryer or pot.

  Wings should fry for eight minutes per batch, or until juices run clear when meat is cut with a knife. Place two cups of the warmed wing sauce, along with Sambal Oelek chili paste if you choose to use it, into a large bowl and transfer the cooked wings directly from the fryer to the bowl.

  Toss the wings with the sauce until evenly coated. Place the wings on a platter and sprinkle with the minced ginger, garlic and chopped cilantro. Finish with freshly squeezed lime juice and serve.

Boneless Fried Chicken Thigh and Waffle Sandwich with Pickled Green Tomato Relish and Cane Syrup Cream

Courtesy Food Drunk Food Truck | Serves 12

Pickled green tomato relish

6 fresh green tomatoes, cored and cut in quarters

2 serrano peppers, split in half lengthwise

1 habanero pepper, split in half

16 ounces white vinegar

2 ounces granulated sugar

2 ounces kosher salt

2 ounces pickling spice (can be found in the spice aisle)

Pinch of cracked black pepper

  Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for several weeks. When ready to serve, take tomatoes out and blend in a food processor, pulsing until roughly chopped. Add chopped tomatoes back into the relish.

Cane syrup cream

4 ounces sour cream

4 ounces cane syrup

3 ounces heavy whipping cream

 Mix together and refrigerate.

Fried chicken

1/2 quart buttermilk

1 ounce Cajun seasoning

Pinch of dried thyme

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of black pepper

12 boneless chicken thighs

8 ounces tempura flour

16 ounces rice oil

24 good-quality frozen waffles

  Mix buttermilk and seasonings in a large bowl. Add chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours (overnight is best).

  Remove chicken from marinade, toss in tempura flour to coat well and set aside. Fry in rice oil a few pieces at a time for five to six minutes. Remove from oil and drain.

  Toast waffles. Fill in crevices with the relish, add a fried chicken thigh to a waffle, spoon cane syrup cream over it and top with another waffle.

Mizado Pistachio Guacamole

Courtesy Mizado Cocina | Serves 8

Confetti Mix

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup radish, diced

1/4 cup white onion, diced

1/4 cup garlic, minced

1/4 cup serrano pepper, minced

  Combine in a medium bowl. Set aside.


3 ripe avocados, halved

2 tablespoons Confetti Mix (recipe above)

1/2 ounce extra virgin olive oil

1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 cup whole pistachios, divided in two portions

Using a spoon, remove avocado meat and place in a bowl. Evenly distribute Confetti Mix on top. Whisk together olive oil and lime juice. Pour over mixture. Sprinkle cilantro and 1/4 cup of pistachios over the mixture. Gently mix with a large spoon, leaving avocado chunky. Pour remaining pistachios on top. Serve immediately with corn chips. Boneless Fried Chicken Thigh and Waffle Sandwich with Pickled Green Tomato Relish and Cane Syrup Cream