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Swap Up for Big Game Day

Jan 04, 2016 04:40AM ● Published by Family Features

Chicken wings, guacamole, and cheesy dips are America’s top choices for most Big Game day menus, but the same recipes year after year can get tiring. Forget the same-old spread and surprise your guests with a little more taste and pizazz this year.

Put these tips into play for a winning combination your team can celebrate.

Swap Up with Sausage. Transform typical dishes, by swapping sausage into recipes, such as chili and nachos, which typically incorporate ground beef. The built-in flavor lends great taste and convenience to these dishes. Instead of chips and queso, add brat sausage to your nachos to make brat-chos. Or give this MVP Chili recipe a try!

MVP Chili:


  • 2          packages of Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage Links (use mild links for less spicy chili)
  • 1          large onion
  • 3          cloves garlic, minced
  • 2          tablespoons chili powder (use mild chili powder for less spicy chili)
  • 1/4       teaspoon cumin
  • 1          bottle (12 ounces) dark beer (OK to substitute light beer or 1 cup beef stock)
  • 1          can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 2          tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1          can (15.5 ounces) red kidney beans
  • 1          can (15.5 ounces) black beans
  • 1-1.5    cups corn (frozen or fresh off the cob)
  • salt and pepper


  1. De-case sausage and sauté in large pot; use wooden spoon to crumble sausage as it cooks.
  2. Once sausage is nicely browned, stir in onion, garlic, chili powder and cumin and continue cooking until onion softens, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add beer and allow it to simmer for an additional 5 minutes scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  4. Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste and allow it to simmer, uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes on medium-low, stirring occasionally.
  5. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
  6. Finally, stir in beans and corn.
  7. Let this come to a simmer and it’s ready to serve! (Can be prepared a day ahead.)

Use Unexpected Ingredients. Many dips and sides prominently feature the gooey goodness of cheese. Put a fresh spin on these dishes with high-quality, sophisticated options that feature more robust flavors, such as pungent blue cheese, smoked Gouda or tangy goat cheese.

Sweeten Up Your Spread. To mix in sweet with the savory options, find a spot on the table for some fresh fruit flavor. Favorites such as fruit salad, fruit pizza or fruit kabobs can make for a delectable treat to accompany the rest of your game-day fare.

Mix it Up. Smoky flavors and bourbon are trending upward in kitchens, backyards, bars and restaurants across the country. Combine the two for a creative spin to your beverage spread. Seep Johnsonville Fully Cooked Smoked Brats in bourbon for about a day to extract smoky and savory flavors, and mix the bourbon for a modern twist on the Manhattan cocktail.

Smokey Sausage Manhattan:


  • 2          ounces Sausage-Infused Bourbon
  • 1          ounces Sweet Vermouth
  • 1          dash Angostura Bitters
  • 3          Cherries


In ice filled mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir for at least 30 seconds. Strain into martini glass and garnish with 3 cherries on a pick.

Sausage-Infused Bourbon

  1. Cut Johnsonville Fully Cooked Smoked Split Rope Sausage into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. In glass jar with tight lid (canning jar is ideal) add sliced brat with 6 ounces of bourbon and let sit for 24-48 hours.  
  3. Strain through coffee filter into clean container.  
  4. Discard sliced brats.

Find more creative recipes to spice up your game-day spread at

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