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Game Day Appetizer:  The Croix Valley Football

Game Day Appetizer: The Croix Valley Football

The Croix Valley Football: An easy, cheesy, bacon-filled appetizer perfect for the game day spread!


When game day rolls around, the tailgating parties get into full swing.  Burgers, wings, beer and appetizers are certainly a staple at many a Sunday spread, and the art of grilling is just as synonymous with football parties as are the pork rinds and the armchair quarterback’s end-zone analysis.  Inspired by the old pigskin itself, we’ve got you covered with an appetizer so delicious, you won’t be able to invite your friends over for the next big game without the requests to ensure you’ve got some of these fantastic morsels on hand.

To make the Croix Valley Footballs, you will need the following:

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • a few Strips of Bacon, sliced into thirds
  • 8oz. Velveeta cheese
  • 1 Cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • Croix Valley Original Steak Sauce (or any of your favorite Croix Valley Sauces)
  • Croix Valley Cattle Drive BBQ Dry Rub


To prepare, in a large bowl, combine the beef, sausage, onion, bread crumbs and egg.  Mix by hand until thoroughly blended.  Next, roll the meat mixture into portions, roughly the size of a golf ball and flatten into patties.  Dice the cheese into approximate 1/2 to 3/4” cubes and wrap in sliced bacon pieces.  Place bacon-wrapped cheese in the center of the patties and fold the meat around the cheese, pinching all sides together to form the shape of a football (recipe makes between 15-20 portions).  Coat generously in Croix Valley BBQ Dry Rub.

Prepare your grill or smoker to a medium heat of 300-325°F.   Cook over indirect heat (banking coals to one side of the grill and placing footballs away from the flames), using lump charcoal and a piece of hardwood for added smoke and flavor for about 35-40 minutes.  If using a gas grill, turn the burners directly under the appetizers off to avoid flare-ups.  Try adding a smoker box or foil pouch with wood chips to the flame-side of your gas grill to attain the best possible flavors from your grill.  If cooked properly and away from direct flames, you should be able to set it and forget it, there is no need to turn the appetizers over or rotate while cooking.  Be sure to place the footballs with the seam side up (where you pinched it together), as some cheese may melt out during cooking.  Baste with sauce during the last 5-10 minutes of grilling to allow the sauce to caramelize and set nicely.

Croix Valley Footballs are an easy, amazing snack that you and your guests will love.  With easy preparation, they can be made ahead of time and tossed on the grill (or in the oven) during half-time.  If not into the game day spread, prepare these any time of the year for any occasion (shape them into elephants and donkeys for election night snacking?).  You will be amazed at how quickly the platter becomes empty!

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