Seasoning and superstition: An ode to grilling traditions from a self-confessed Cowboys fan

I have long been asked to write a “COVID Confession” since the dawn of the pandemic, which feels like years. I have ardently refused to do so.

Until now.

Francisco E. Jimenez

Here is my only confession: I am a Dallas Cowboys fan.

While I am aware there is always a certain amount of disgust among fans of other inferior teams at the realization that they are in the presence of a winner, one cannot concern themselves with such trivial matters, especially now that the Cowboys are back in the playoffs and my focus must be entirely on preparing my heart for more heartbreak. Because to be a Dallas fan is to have great expectations be spectacularly thwarted.

But while I am well-acquainted with heartbreak and suffering, I am also fortunate to have witnessed three of their five championships (that’s right, five — count them). Yes, those seasons seem like a lifetime ago, at least in the heart of one who expects better, who is accustomed to more.

As numerous players and coaches came and went throughout the years, one thing has stayed the same for me — that’s firing up the grill and burning some meat. It’s the one thing you know cannot go wrong on game day.

The cookout, the carne asada, whatever you call it — there’s something both archaic and magical about cooking over an open fire. It’s alchemy, handed down through generations of red-blooded Texans.

When I was asked (forced) to write this, it was with the expectation that I would share some rules of the pit. Well the only rule when it comes to barbecuing is that there really aren’t any rules. Perhaps: Don’t burn the meat – but that seems more like common sense.

Everyone has their own ways, traditions, so I instead decided to just talk about the music, the prep, the flavor and … yes, the superstitions.

Like anything good in life, the more time spent on preparing, the better the outcome. For me, the first part of any good preparation is having a good playlist. It’s nearly impossible to screw up barbecue while listening to a good mix of George Strait, Freddy Fender, Ramon Ayala, Charley Crockett, and Intocable.

I like to use a charcoal chimney when getting the fire going. I’ll usually get an old newspaper and light it under some charcoal briquettes. Not The Monitor, obviously. I’d use some other, inferior newspaper.

This Sunday, I’ll be making some chicken leg quarters, which are probably the easiest thing to make. All you need is a lot of heat from the fire and some good seasoning.

I’ve found that the best seasonings have pretty unorthodox names, like 2 Gringo’s Chupacabra Cluckalicious and Special S— by Big Cock Ranch (yes, that’s a real thing), but I’m going to go with Dos Pendejos Cluckin’ Red.

Lastly, I would suggest a good beverage. When I’m manning the pit, I usually like to start things off with an ice cold michelada. On Cowboys game days, I tend to stick to Texas beers. My go-tos are usually Shiner, Lone Star, Hopadillo, or anything from 5X5 Brewing Co. and Big River Brewery.

It’s not scientifically proven, but my Cowboys always seem to play a little better when I’m having one of those during the game (sorry about the Arizona game).

Another tried and true method of securing a victory is your grilling and viewing apparel. Stick to what works, and in my case that’s been a new Cowboys jacket. Dallas is 5-1 since I’ve worn it on game days. It sports their classic color scheme of navy blue and white with silver trim. I’ve also got to wear a good pair of Tecovas boots, but honestly, we should all be wearing those every day.

As alluded to earlier, that one loss came at the hands of the Cardinals, which I blame on not drinking a Texas brew that day. I also didn’t cookout, which probably explains the outcome of that game. My apologies to the team for letting them down that day. It shall not happen again.

Again, there’s no right or wrong way to have a decent cookout on game day. I’m sure there are many who will look at what I do and scoff, and that’s fine. I’d probably laugh at your way of doing things too.

In the end, and in all seriousness, it’s all about having a good time with the ones you love and making something delicious to distract you from the painful realization of another potential first round playoff loss. So light those pits, and light those prayer candles. God help us.