@GRMAGAZINE: Poker Lunch

(Grand Rapids, MI) — If you're a subscriber, you have probably blazed through the May 2013 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine by now. (If you're not a subscriber yet, then save yourself a trip to the magazine rack by signing up today!) In this latest column, we talk about one of our favorite social activities: the poker lunch (or brunch, if you're so inclined). Here are a few more suggestions and recipes for making your poker party go smoothly...

He Fed:

Most of my fellow poker players tend to schedule games on Friday or Saturday nights. That’s pretty traditional, right? Here at HeFedSheFed.com, though, we tend to host games on Sunday afternoons because there’s just something inherently naughty about playing poker and drinking bloody marys when everyone else is just getting out of church or starting in on their springtime yard work. Yeah, we’re heathens.

The most important part of setting up a poker game is getting the timing right. That is, structuring a game so it will last as long as you want—no more, no less—while keeping most of your guests in the game as long as possible, to maximize both fun and value for their money. You can find all kinds of software and apps to help organize the game, even some freebies you can set up and run in a browser. The key is to give everyone just enough chips so they don’t feel as if they need to go all-in every hand, but not enough where they feel all powerful.

We like to keep the stakes very low because this isn’t about someone getting rich at the expense of friends, but rather having fun practicing technique while possibly winning a little spending cash. Quite often, we spend more on drinks and snacks than we ever win back. At least for us, the emphasis is on food and camaraderie.

I recommend limiting a typical game to 3 hours if you’re playing just one, or two 2 hour games. (Our games are usually one 2 hour game that pays the top 3 spots, then a follow-up game that’s winner-take-all so folks can head home when they get knocked out.)

Music, usually on shuffle, should be played in the background. It helps to keep your television tuned to sports and muted so if someone wants to catch up on the game, they can do so at a glance.

Other than that, set out your bowls of peanuts and pretzels, line up the beer glasses, and stack all the chips in neat little towers on the felt. Guests will be arriving soon!

Chopped Veggie Salad Recipe

One of my favorite summer salads is a chopped salad using grilled veggies. Juliet preps a homemade dressing and greens while I grill up a mess of veg including orange, yellow, and red peppers; zucchini; summer squash; mushrooms; and red onion slices. I will grill the veggies first, before any meat hits the grill. Then while I'm tending to the meat—be it chicken, chops, fish, or beef—Juliet peels off any charred skin from the peppers, gives the veggies a rustic chop, and generously sprinkles them on a bed of leafy greens. A drizzle of aged balsamic and splash of extra virgin olive oil and you’ve got a fab salad.

My eyes are always bigger than my stomach, so we invariably end up with lots of leftover grilled veggies. Tossed with canned beans, a few fresh veggies (diced carrots and celery are a fave), and a vinaigrette, they make for a great lunch the next day.
She Fed:

I’ve always been a fan of beer can chicken because the meat turns out so moist while the skin gets incredibly crispy. I’ve used everything from PBR, to Oberon, to a malty stout. In my opinion the beer adds more moisture than actual flavor, so I never really fret too much over what beer to use and just grab whatever Jeremy’s got handy.

If you’re using an actual can of beer, as opposed to one of the many vertical chicken roasters available on the market today, place the can-stuffed chicken in a roasting pan. Not only will this help avoid a mess if the chicken topples over, but you can toss veggies in the roasting pan to cook in the lovely chicken juices. Ever taste a carrot that’s roasted in chicken broth and fat? Incredible.

One last tip—just like traditional roast chicken, if you’re taking time to make one beer can chicken, seriously consider roasting a second bird. The leftovers make divine chicken salad and you can always freeze it for one of those insane weeknights when you’re rushed for dinner.

Here’s a basic recipe. Feel free to mix up the spices and the beer to make this recipe your own! If you’re using a store-bought spice blend, check to see if it contains salt or pepper and adjust your seasonings accordingly.
  • 1 whole chicken, preferably organic, close to 4 lbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper (most recipes call for one teaspoon, but I use a bit more)
  • 3-4 tablespoons of poultry seasoning (try Italian, Cajun, or Mediterranean blends, spicy herb rubs, etc.)
  • 1 half can of beer (drink a few healthy glugs before inserting into the chicken)
Many recipes suggest rinsing your chicken inside and out, then patting it dry. I skip this step, but do what feels best for you. Rub the chicken liberally with olive oil inside and out; I probably use more than 2 tablespoons of oil, to be honest. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and spice/herb blend of your choice. The tricky part is getting the chicken to balance on the beer can. Another benefit to cooking two at once is that you can lean them towards each other to help keep them balanced. I always feel slightly guilty during the “beer can insertion” stage of the recipe. Drinking half the can of beer helps calm my nerves and I do have it on good authority that the chicken can’t actually feel this! Roast the chicken at medium-high (375-degree-ish) on indirect heat for about 75 minutes. Timing will vary with the weight of your bird. Use an instant-read thermometer and remove the bird when the thigh hits 180-degrees. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Be careful removing the beer can as its contents will be piping hot. I typically use a clean dish towel to protect my hands while removing the can.

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