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TCP Kitchen

Touchdown Party Foods

Score extra points with these dishes on game day

A sheepish confession: I’m not what you’d call a die-hard sports fan. But I do love an excuse to get together with friends—around a table or television—and make a meal out of a mix of spicy, fun-to-eat appetizers and cold libations.

When it comes to big, game-winning flavors, Chris Shepherd is in a league of his own. His menus feature ingredients from around the globe. He serves Crispy Ham Ribs With Sorghum Mustard Glaze at his four Hay Merchant restaurants on the club level of NRG Stadium during Houston Texans games.

“This dish puts two of the greatest things on the face of the planet together: ham and ribs,” he says.

Crispy Ham Ribs With Sorghum Mustard Glaze


1 gallon water
2 cups light brown sugar
1½ cups kosher salt
1½ ounces curing salt No. 1


2 slabs pork ribs


¾ cup sorghum
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon fish sauce
Sliced scallions for garnish

1. Combine the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat and stir until the salts and sugar melt. Let the brine cool and submerge the ribs. Weigh the ribs down to keep them completely submerged in the liquid, and then refrigerate 4–5 days.

2. When you’re ready to cook the ribs, remove them from the brine and pat dry. Heat a smoker to 225 degrees, and smoke the ribs 5–6 hours or until almost tender. Remove from heat, cool briefly and refrigerate. Once the meat has chilled, slice the slab into single ribs.

3. To make the glaze, combine all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes.

4. To finish the ribs, heat a grill to medium-high and grill the ribs so they have a nice char and are warm through (or you can broil the ribs). In a large bowl, combine the ribs and enough glaze to generously coat them, and toss well. Arrange ribs on a serving platter and garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

Serves 6–8.