Winning Game-Day Recipes From Stadium Chef Nikki Olst and Tocabe

Chef Nikki Olst won't have time to watch the upcoming playoff game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers; she'll be too busy making sure that the food from her kitchen at Sports Authority Field makes it to hungry fans inside the club-level suites. As stadium executive chef for Epicurean Catering, she oversees the production of enough food to feed more than 4,000 discerning fans at every home Broncos game — fans who expect a little more than hot dogs and nachos.

Maybe you're a fortunate ticket-holder for a sweet suite seat, but if not, you can still eat like you're at the game. Here's a recipe for the green chile BLTs that will be part of one of the meal packages available to the big wigs in the boxes. To keep things local, Olst uses bacon from Tender Belly (a Denver company) and regional green chiles.
8 pieces of sourdough bread (toasted with crusts cut off)
16 pieces of Tender Belly habanero bacon (we like the spice, but any quality thick cut bacon will work)
16 slices of roma tomatoes
16 leaves of baby spinach
1 cup of green chili black pepper aioli (see below)
16 decorative picks

For the aioli:
1 cup mayo
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
sugar to sweeten (if too tart)
2 tablespoons chopped roasted green chilies

Place all ingredients for the aioli in bowl and mix with a whisk until combined.

For the sandwiches, begin by toasting and removing the crust of the bread. Set your oven to 400 degrees and cook the bacon on a foil-lined sheet tray until your desired doneness — anywhere from 10 -15 minutes. depending on how crispy you like it (keeping in mind that Tender Belly is thick-cut and dry-cured, so doesn't crisp and curl the same way that cheaper, thin-sliced bacon does). 

Spread the aioli on the tops of four slices of bread. Place four pieces of bacon on each piece of the spread bread. Fold the bacon in half and line next to one another. Place one tomato slice and one spinach leaf on top of each piece of bacon. Top with the other piece of toast. Place 4 picks in each sandwich in a proportionally spaced row to secure the tops to the bottoms. Slice into four equal sized finger sandwiches.

The recipe makes enough for sixteen finger sandwiches, so multiply if you're having a bigger bash. For Olst, the number is considerably higher. "We will be making roughly six gallons of the green chili black pepper aioli for the game," she says. "We expect to make 3,200 green chili BLTs (that’s 3,200 pieces of local Tender Belly Habanero bacon). We love turning fans into foodies!"

Tocabe American Indian Eatery is also getting into the game-day spirit by sharing a green chile stew recipe that's served at its Greenwood Village and Berkeley neighborhood locations. Of course, if you're not in the mood to cook, you can stop in at either spot and pick some up — along with plenty of fry bread! — or if you're throwing a playoff party with at least fifteen people, Tocabe will cater your event. Check the eatery's website for details.

Here's the recipe:
1 large potato
8 ounces fresh ground beef
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
4 cups cold water
1/3 cup flour (might need more depending on how much grease is in the meat)
3?4 cup roasted mild green chiles (fresh is preferred, but frozen or canned can be substituted)
1?2 cup roastes hot green chiles (fresh is preferred, but frozen or canned can be substituted)
1-1?2 cups corn (preferably cut from the cob, but frozen or canned can be substituted)
2 teaspoons green chili powder (optional)
Grated cheese (optional, we like cheddar)
Sour cream (optional)

Peel and cube the potato into half-inch pieces and set aside.

In a sauté pan on medium heat, cook the ground beef and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Break into small pieces.

Cook the green chili powder, if you are using, into the beef.

While the beef is cooking, place 4 cups water in a stock pot with the potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender; do not cook until the potatoes mash.

When all the rawness is cooked out of the beef, turn off the heat. Slowly add the flour while mixing into the beef in order to make a roux. Mix the flour into the beef completely until no dry flour remains.

Once your roux is complete, add to the stockpot with the cooked potatoes. Add the green chiles, corn, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Fully mix all the ingredients and place the stockpot back on the stove top.

Bring up to temperature on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This may take up to 30 minutes or more. Feel free to serve with grated cheese or sour cream, if desired.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation