IT'S not given enough attention in the mainstream media but, like any party, the key to hosting a successful State of Origin party is in the food (that and having a really big tellie).
The obvious staples are easy - chips, popcorn and other simple things that come out of packets and go well with beer.
But it's not really footy unless you've got pies.
It doesn't really matter whether the pies are fancy, whether you've laboured to make them yourself or, when you get down to it, whether they even contain meat. It's simply that having pies at an Origin party makes it all seem that little bit more Aussie.
The difficulty is pies require cooking, which can be tricky when you're flat out yelling at the TV.
Here's my step-by-step method for charcoal pies:
- Preheat oven to 180C during pre-match bits and pieces
- Remove pies from packet and place into oven
- Wait until Queensland looks like it's about to score a try and check the pies. If still cold inside, dither until the moment has passed and return to watching the game.
- Repeat until pies are hot. Remove from oven.
- Scrape as much burned pastry as possible from pies and cover with enough tomato sauce that your guests can't tell they're burned.
- Put pies on the table and continue watching until game finishes. Maybe use them for a dare game - if Queensland makes this conversion you have to eat one of the pies.
- After game, attempt to feed remaining pies to the dog (the dog will refuse).
- Dump pies in bin.
Happy State of Origin.
Okay, seriously though...
IF you are actually looking for tips on what to feed your guests on Origin night, here are a few easy and tasty suggestions:
Homemade pizzas: Put your choice of toppings on a pizza base and whack them in the oven for 15 minutes. No fuss, but so delicious.
Easy sausage rolls: Cook up some chipolata sausages, fry some onion with balsamic vinegar to caramelise it, and load it all on a dinner roll. Gourmet finger food.
Nachos: You can't go wrong with corn chips, mince, a spicy salsa, guacamole and sour cream, topped with melted cheese. For a vegetarian option, replace the mince with a can of four-bean mix.
Garlic prawn skewers: Perfect excuse to fire up the barbecue and enjoy some seafood. Thread some local prawns onto pre-soaked wooden skewers. Mix up some lemon juice, olive oil and crushed garlic. Place the prawn skewers on the barbie and baste with the mix regularly until the prawns are cooked through.
Cheat's option: Want something even easier? Throw some frozen party pies, cheese and spinach triangles and spring rolls into the oven. The truly lazy choice is to order in. Lots of people will be doing it - Domino's says it will sell four million slices of pizza tonight, using more than a quarter of a million pieces of chicken and 52 tonnes of cheese.
- REBECCA LOLLBACK