Thanksgiving takes first place as the largest food consumption day of the year in the United States. That’s probably no surprise. But any guess what takes second? It’s not Christmas or New Years. It’s Superbowl Sunday.

It’s estimated that on February 2nd more than 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed across the country. That’s about 4 wings for every single American! Ever stop to wonder where the rest of the chicken goes? With factory farms, it’s used for other cuts and purposes, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a small or humane farm selling you a forty pack of wings. It’s just not practical. This Salon article highlights some of the concerns pretty well.

Then there are the 4.4 million take out pizzas that will be sold and the countless bags of chips, bottles of soda and cans of beer. For those who started healthy resolutions for 2014, all that hard work could be undone in one day.

Those statistics make me want to do nothing but get in the kitchen and cook – without any chicken wings in sight. I’ll have chicken another day, thanks. Instead, why not beef sliders? They’re also a good finger food and with a simple homemade barbecue sauce, you’ll get much of the same flavor as wings too.

Let’s start with the sauce. Chances are you have everything you need on hand.

You’ll need onions, garlic, tomato puree or sauce, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, hot sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, Dijon mustard and orange marmalade, if you’d like. These are common barbecue sauce ingredients and you can use my suggested amounts in the recipe below as a guide. The way it’s written will produce a mostly sweet sauce. Increase the amount of hot sauce as you see fit.

I use a combination of tomato sauce (already getting low on my canned supply) and ketchup to get to achieve the consistency I like. The onion gives the sauce some texture too, but you could always puree it if you’d like it smooth.

Barbecue Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • A few dashes hot sauce, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon orange marmalade (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a small pot over medium high heat.
  2. Add the garlic and onion. Sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  4. Lower the heat and keep at a low simmer 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Taste and add more seasoning as needed. Keeps for up to 1 week in the fridge.

Mixing the barbecue sauce into the ground beef (or other ground meat of your choosing) results in a moist and flavorful burger. If you’re not having a party, these work fine as normal sized burgers rather than the 2 ounce suggestion. In winter I prefer to cook them in a pan on the stove with just a little oil.

For the buns, you could use minis, if you can find them, but you could also just cut out pieces of bread. The top of a small jar makes a great sized cutter. Just toast before using, then place some greens on the bottom bun, like spinach, add your burger then top with cheese, extra sauce and even some bacon for a more unique contribution to the game day party. These would go great with rutabaga fries.

Barbecue Sliders

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: About 12 sliders

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or pork, chicken or turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • Olive oil
  • 6 ounces grated cheddar
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon (optional)
  • 12 mini buns

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the ground beef, chili powder, cumin, salt, green onion and barbecue sauce.
  2. Lightly coat a skillet with the olive oil and heat over medium high heat.
  3. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out 2 ounce patties of the beef mix, lightly flattening with your hands before placing in the pan. Cook each patty 2-3 minutes per side, in batches.
  4. When ready to serve, place on a bun, top with cheese and melt under the broiler in the oven.
  5. Top with additional barbecue sauce, bacon, if using, and any other toppings.