When it comes to watch parties for college basketball, themes tend to take over. From cookies covered in icing and made to look like basketballs to bean dip slathered on a platter and fashioned into the shape of your team’s mascot, many March Madness parties focus only on making the food look like your favorite team or elements of the game and forget to include the spirit of the sport.
Simply put, focusing only on refashioning food means you get it all wrong. It’s called March Madness for a reason. While everyone loves a good hot dog, you can spice of your spread to a level befitting the crazy attitude of the bracket-busting season. With people salivating over selection Sunday, upsets and underdogs, and bracket-busting games that make grown men cry, your party must match the spirit of March Madness.
So if you want your guests to get hyped when they walk through your door and not sigh over your basketball-shaped hamburger buns, ditch the thematic food spread with a cinematic table flip befitting a Norse god. Instead, outfit your feast with explosive flavors and an exciting selection of food that keeps your guests on the edge of their seats.
This post walks you through the best way to infuse beef jerky into your March Madness watch party to keep things hot, spicy, and unexpected. Just remember: If you focus on flavor and variety, your party will end up part of the big night’s highlight reel.
Focusing on the Elite Eight for Flavor
When it comes to the star player in your food spread, you have to think meat. While your table is likely already filled with sliders, hot dogs, and ground meat oozing with gooey dip, you can raise the level of play by adding a charcuterie board built with a solid foundation of flavor.
Sure, you can make a charcuterie board look like a basketball court, and someone most certainly has styled it to evoke the character of a favorite team. But that kind of thematic presentation only lasts until the guests begin eating, and then your basketball court looks like a post-game arena than a champagne-spraying championship part.
To avoid just simply looking like March Madness, embrace the spirit instead. Every charcuterie board should include the five elements of flavor: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. You can use Righteous Felon’s eight explosive flavors of beef jerky to take center court for your watch party spread and to take care of many elements of flavor that your charcuterie board requires.
To understand how best to build your charcuterie board, you need to understand the flavors you’re building on. The following list explains what you can expect from the wide range of profiles Righteous Felon has to offer:
- G. Hickory: As the name suggests, this original recipe has all you want in a traditionally flavored beef jerky. Hickory with the perfect balance of sweet and smoky gives you a savory flavor that lays the perfect foundation for the rest of your gameday feast.
- Habanero Escobar: Spice is different from heat, and if any of your guests need to understand the difference, this jerky fits the bill. The flavor gives you just enough heat to cut the hickory without being overwhelming.
- Baby Blues BBQ: Just like the perfect game displays the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, this jerky offers satisfying sweetness with the right level of heat.
- Victorious B.I.G.: Like any self-respecting hip-hop album, this this beer-infused gastronomy (B.I.G.) is a collaboration between Righteous Felon and a local craft brewery. You can expect a stout-infused jerky that’s both peppery and sweet.
- Maryland Monroe: Just like the Hollywood star, this jerky offers a well-rounded blend of sweet, salty, and spicy that makes this a standout in terms of flavor. It offers a hickory base infused with a smoky seduction due to a heavy kiss of spice. You’ll find your guests coming back again and again for this unique flavor.
- Voodoo Chile: With just a pinch of the ultra-hot Carolina Reaper—the world’s hottest pepper—this jerky blends garlic and sweetness with a lasting sense of heat to give you a jerky flavor that gives real heat lovers something to chew on.
- Truffle-O Bill: You need an umami flavor profile on your board, and this jerky will have you moaning, “Ooh mommy!” With the exquisitely flavored black truffle powder, treat your guests to the world’s first and only truly truffle-based jerky.
- Bourbon Franklin: As unique as America itself, this jerky packs in its flavor by infusing it with a spirit that is made only in America: bourbon. The taste of bourbon accented with vanilla bean and a hint of cinnamon creates a spirited flavor perfect for March Madness.
Balancing Out Your Board
The elite eight beef jerky flavors are the stars that give your spread some character, but you have to finish off your charcuterie board with all the flavor elements necessary for a balanced board. While the jerky offers plenty of sweet, spicy, and umami, you can continue to build on those flavors as well as round it out with bitter and salty elements.
Of course, cheese is necessary for any board, so be sure to add a variety of soft and hard cheeses. Feel free to add some sweetness by drizzling honey or jam over some of your soft cheeses as these will pair perfectly with the meat that packs the heat.
You can pack on more sweetness by adding fruit, and while the jerky and some cheeses have salty profiles, olives, nuts, and crackers can add some elements of saltiness as well, and don’t forget the bitter element. Nuts as well as mustard offer the bitterness you need for a well-balanced board.
When it comes to flavor and texture, beef jerky is a slam dunk for your March Madness watch party. Whether you build a charcuterie board or use jerky as the foundation for a larger spread, only craft beef jerky offers deep flavor profiles and perfect textures that can make your watch party a real winner.