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updated: 10/10/2012 6:16 AM

Tailgate challenge: Querceto Chianti Classico, cumin and American cheese

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Michael Pennisi: When I read the ingredients and noticed Chianti and that both food items needed to be grilled I decided that the wine would be used as a marinade or sauce. The tannins and oak in the Chianti made me lean toward beef as a protein choice but I thought pork tenderloin might work, too. I also decided at that point to keep the cheese separate from the meat because I don't think the flavor of American cheese complements either the wine or a quality cut of meat.

With this in mind, my meat dishes evolved into a wine-herb marinade like a chimichurri for the beef and a wine-peanut-satay for the pork (peanut butter and grape jelly work so why not?). I made both and they were each good, but my tasters preferred the flavors on the steak. However, I liked how the skewers could be eaten easily. I combined the best of both dishes and came up with Sideline Skewers.

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For the second dish I wanted something involving carbs to go with the cheese and I narrowed it down to American cheese quesadillas, which are quick to grill, and baby potatoes roasted in foil with a cheese sauce. The tasters liked both, but I felt a tailgating crowd would prefer eating a quesadilla that requires no utensils.

The cumin seemed to naturally fit the marinade. I also added cumin more noticeably to the quesadillas by pairing it with corn and green chilies.

Mary Beth Thornton: I was very excited when I first got the ingredients this week, I had so many ideas running through my head. Burgers, brats, hot dogs, chili ... But all those items most tailgaters knows how to make, so I thought Pork! And what goes best with pork ... beans.

I think this week's challenge's hardest part was to make sure the two proteins matched together on a plate. I make similar beans in the oven and thought maybe these extra ingredients would add something more to my "famous" (with my family, that is) baked beans. And I have to tell you, it was a hit. With the meat and bacon in the baked beans, my kids also like to eat it on a sandwich sort of like sloppy Joes.

With the pork chop I wanted to marinate the pork with the ingredients, however the American cheese was giving me some issues. What was I going to do with it? I decided to then add all the ingredients to a food processor to transform the cheese. When I tasted the blended sauce, it was missing something to make a perfect consistency so I added the mayonnaise and it was perfect. I cooked up the pork, added the cheese mixture and wow it was awesome.

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