Food & Drink

Ultimate Gameday Snack: Chonchos in Ponchos

Atlanta chef Kevin Gillespie—whose newest restaurant, Gamechanger, is located inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium—shares his riff on pigs in a blanket

photo: Angie Mosier


When chef Kevin Gillespie, who is nationally acclaimed for his Atlanta restaurants Revival and Gunshow, was approached by the Falcons ownership about opening a place in the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he jumped at the chance. “It’s such an event for people to go to games, and stadium food deserves to be great,” Gillespie says. Gamechanger, his spot in the 200 concourse’s western end zone, offers just that. “It’s really high-end junk food, but we’re careful about where it comes from,” he says of his popular dishes that include smoked cheddar cheese steaks and Closed-on-Sunday chicken sandwiches that mimic those of a certain chain. “We make everything: the mayo, the pickles. The chicken comes from a farm in North Georgia. It’s all fun and indulgent, but you don’t have to feel bad about it.”

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Chef Kevin Gillespie.

When he’s watching a football game at home, though, he takes a different route, often making Chonchos and Ponchos, a snack that he first created for a party with his employees. “Every year we have a snack-off: everyone brings something to a party, and we vote on the best,” Gillespie says. “I forgot we were doing this until the morning of, so I dug out all the stuff that was in my fridge.” His wife, Valerie, an Alabama grad, had stocked away some Conecuh sausage, which he found alongside a can of Pillsbury dough and some cotija cheese. “I thought I’d do a riff on pigs in a blanket, because everyone loves pigs in a blanket,” he says. (His translation is humorous, although not exact: choncho is Spanish for “chubby”.) Gillespie’s creation won in a landslide. “I’ve never lived that dish down,” he says. “People always ask if I’m going to bring my Chonchos in Ponchos as if it’s this complicated thing only I can make. Now I’m stuck bringing them to every tailgate I go to.”


Ingredients

  • (Yields 8 hearty or 16 bite-sized snacks)

    • 3 tbsp. butter

    • 1 tsp. chopped garlic, about 1 small clove

    • 8 oz. spicy smoked-pork link sausage (“Use Conecuh sausage if you can,” Gillespie says. “It’s a high-quality pork sausage sold all over the United States. Or use any good-quality, coarsely ground smoked pork sausage the size of a fat hot dog.”)

    • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, cut into ¼ by 1 ½-inch slices

    • 1 jalapeño pepper, sliced into thin rings

    • 1 (8-oz.) tube refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough

    • ⅓ cup crumbled cotija cheese or other mild cheese

    • ¼ tsp. smoked paprika


Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the garlic. Set aside and keep warm.

  3. Cut the sausage into 2-inch lengths. Split each piece of sausage lengthwise down the middle, stopping just before you cut all the way through. Hold the sausage open and stuff with 1 slice of Monterey Jack and 2 slices of jalapeño.

  4. Remove the rolls from the tube and separate into triangles. Place 1 piece of sausage lengthwise on the wide end of each piece of dough. Fold the ends toward the center, burrito style, and roll to completely cover the sausage. Pinch the edges of the dough closed. Place on the baking sheet, brush each roll with the garlic butter, and sprinkle with the cotija. You’ll need to press the cheese into the dough using your fingers.

  5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the smoked paprika, and serve warm. “If you have leftovers, heat them on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven,” Gillespie says. “But don’t wrap or cover them while heating or they will get soggy.”

  6. (For bite-size portions, cut the crescent roll triangles in half. Split the 2-inch lengths of sausage completely in half lengthwise, and then split the halves just down to the skin so they’ll open up. Stuff with a smaller piece of Monterey Jack and jalapeños slices, wrap, and bake as directed.)

Recipe from Kevin Gillespie of  Gamechanger, Revival, and Gunshow in Atlanta, Georgia


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