Super Bowl Party Snacks Fit For Royalty From Chef Darren McGrady
In England, “football” is soccer. But, as Darren McGrady, former chef to the royal family, wrote in his cookbook The Royal Chef At Home, that idea doesn’t fly in Texas. Here, football is something very different.
“When I first arrived [to Texas], I didn’t know what Thanksgiving was, or Super Bowl Sunday, or March Madness,” confessed McGrady, who moved to the Lone Star State about 20 years ago, right after the untimely and tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Although McGrady says he’ll never lose his fondness for soccer, he’s become “a once a year screaming lunatic when the Super Bowl is on.”
McGrady trained at the Savoy Hotel in London for before landing the coveted job as the Queen’s chef at Buckingham Palace. “I spent 11 years traveling all around the world with the Queen,” he said. “I first came to Houston in 1991 and remembered the Texans as being really friendly. I was [also] chef to Princess Diana, right up to the day of the car accident. She always talked about moving to America. Whenever she was in New York, L.A., Chicago—she’d call and say, ‘Darren, we’ve got to move to America!’ I’d laugh, and she’d laugh. I’d say, ‘Let me pack the juicer and a few clothes. We’ll go tomorrow!’”
After Princess Diana’s death, McGrady says he was invited by Prince Charles to be the chef at Highgrove House, the family residence. McGrady turned the job down and moved to America, just like he and Princess Diana used to talk about. After initially relocating to California, he met a family from Dallas on vacation that asked him to come be their chef. That’s how McGrady became a Texan. For a time, he was also employed by American Airlines to create meals for first class passengers.
Part McGrady’s cultural assimilation included figuring out what to cook when entertaining his American friends and neighbors at home. That’s what The Royal Chef At Home is all about and it offers a handful of recipes for every major holiday and even more casual occasions, like lazy Sunday afternoons. For Super Bowl parties, McGrady’s offerings are Lobster Mac & Cheese Balls, Salmon & Cilantro Ceviche with Tortilla Chips, Turkey Meatballs with Smoked Paprika Coulis and Whisky Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding for dessert.
Of course, any recipe from the book can be cherry-picked to suit particular whims and cravings. McGrady suggests starting with the Garden Pizza Party section. “Anyone can throw three or four ingredients into a bowl, stir them together and put a filling on top. The pizza section is a great place to start. Make some pizza; make some friends.”
Of course, selections like Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza and Rustic Fig Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Pizza would be just as welcome at a Super Bowl party.
Want a taste? We’ve included the Turkey Meatballs with Smoked Paprika Coulis recipe below. Good news for those trying to reduce carbohydrates: with only a third of a cup of panko, there are only about 15 in the entire batch.
Get all the recipes from The Royal Chef At Home by purchasing the book from McGrady’s website, The Royal Chef, for $29.95.
Turkey Meatballs with Smoked Paprika Coulis
from The Royal Chef At Home by Darren McGrady
Reprinted with permission from Bright Sky Press
Makes About 24 Meatballs
1 pound ground turkey
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped green onion
½ cup panko or bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350.F. In a large bowl mix the turkey, pepper, cilantro, green onion, egg, panko, chili powder. Season with salt and pepper.
- Shape the mix into small balls using an ice cream scoop and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking prepare the sauce. Sauté the onions in the olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the smoked paprika and stir. Add the cream and boil for about 4 to 5 minutes until reduced and thickened. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Pour over the meatballs and serve.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.