At this time of the year there is nothing nicer than to sit down and watch your favourite team and have a feast of nibbles at the same time.

These are all easy to make so you can get a lot done with some pre-preparation and using the match build-up and even half-time.

Or maybe you would like some food for a movie night or a television series binge.

Chicken wings are so tasty and are good value. This works really well with a blue cheese dip. Simply Better has launched a new range of Irish made hot sauces – Hot Chilli, Hot Wing and Hot BBQ – that you might like to try.

You want really crispy chicken wings. Deep frying is best but you can shallow fry or bake in the oven. You can make the blue cheese dip ahead.

These mini hot dogs are a real kids’ favourite but always go down well with adults too. Look for the Bord Bia quality mark on your sausages. I like these with Waterford blaa as the bun. You can cut them in half.

Neven’s game-day dinner spread. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy

The barbecue relish is a great one to keep in your fridge. I love it with leftover chicken and even monkfish.

This homemade relish will keep in your fridge for a couple of weeks. It is sweet and sour with a little bit of a kick.

This week I have also included one of my favourite recipes for sausage rolls – good-quality sausage meat jazzed up with the chilli sauce. I make them in batches at home and freeze them. I have fresh basil here but I have also made them with a spoonful of pesto. Sesame seeds add great texture. These sausage rolls are lovely with a salad and I’ve found they are a lovely treat when the twins come in from school – just not every day.

I discovered this Sloppy Joes recipe during the first lockdown and it blew me away. There are lots of flavours from the chorizo, chilli, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.

You might think there are too many flavours but, trust me, it is delicious. Kidney beans add texture but not everyone likes them, including myself. This is gorgeous just with some rice. According to legend, a cook named Joe at Floyd Angell’s café in Sioux City, Iowa, added tomato sauce to his ‘loose meat’ sandwiches and the ‘sloppy Joe’ sandwich was born.

Happy cooking


Neven’s game-day dinner spread. \ Photography: Philip Doyle. Food styling: Janine Kennedy


Buffalo chicken wings & blue cheese dip

Serves four to six

For the wings:

1.3kg (3lb) chicken wings

Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

75g (3oz) cornflour

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

4 celery sticks, trimmed, cut into thin sticks

For the blue cheese dip:

100g (4oz) blue cheese, crumbled

4 tbsp mayonnaise

4 tbsp sour cream

4 tbsp buttermilk

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra leaves to garnish

Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

120ml (4fl oz) hot pepper sauce

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

50g (2oz) butter, melted

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 Using a sharp knife, discard the wing tip and keep the little drum and wingette together. Leave to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to take the chill off them and help them to cook evenly.
  • 2 To make the blue cheese dip, blend all the ingredients together except the parsley in a bowl with a hand blender, then stir in the parsley and season to taste. Cover with cling film, then chill until needed. This can be made up to two days in advance.
  • 3 Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 190°C (375°F) and put the oven on a low heat.
  • 4 Place the cornflour in a bowl with the celery salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine, then use to coat the chicken wings, shaking off any excess. Deep-fry the chicken wings in batches for 10-12 minutes, until very crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remainder.
  • 5 To make the sauce, mix the hot sauce with the celery salt, garlic powder and cayenne, if using, then stir in the melted butter and vinegar. Pour the sauce into a small pan and allow to just warm through.
  • 6 Once all the chicken wings are cooked, toss them in enough of the warmed sauce to coat, allowing any excess to drain off. Serve at once garnished with the flat-leaf parsley leaves and piled high in a bowl with the blue cheese dip and the celery sticks alongside. Have plenty of napkins for those sticky fingers!
  • Mini hot dogs with onion rings

    Serves four to six

    For the hot dogs:

    12 good-quality pork sausages

    1 large onion, cut into thick slices

    2 tbsp seasoned flour

    2 tbsp sunflower oil

    12 mini hot dog buns or sub rolls

    For the barbecue relish:

    6 tbsp tomato ketchup

    1 tbsp dark soy sauce

    1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (optional)

    1 tsp Dijon mustard

    1 tsp clear honey

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Preheat the grill to medium.
  • 2 To make the barbecue relish, mix together the tomato ketchup, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce, if using, and the mustard and honey in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • 3 Place the sausages in a non-metallic dish. Pour over half the barbecue relish and spread it on the sausages. Grill the sausages for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through, turning and basting occasionally.
  • 4 Meanwhile, separate the onion into rings and dust in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion rings for 8-10 minutes, until crisp and lightly golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
  • 5 To serve, lay the sausages in the bottom halves of the hot dog buns or sub rolls and scatter over the onion rings, then drizzle over the rest of the barbecue relish and place on warmed plates.
  • Sausage rolls with sesame seeds

    Makes about 40

    25g (1oz) butter

    2 tbsp finely diced onion

    3 eggs

    450g (1lb) good-quality sausage meat

    2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

    1 tbsp chopped fresh basil

    1 tbsp cream

    500g (1lb 2oz) ready-rolled puff pastry, thawed if frozen

    Plain flour, for dusting

    2 tbsp sesame seeds

    1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/gas mark 7). Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
  • 2 Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • 3 Break 2 eggs into a food processor or liquidiser and add the sausage meat, sweet chilli sauce, basil and cream. Blend for 2 minutes, until smooth, then scrape out into a bowl with a spatula and stir in the cooked onion. Season to taste and spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm (¾in) plain nozzle. Chill for at least 30 minutes to firm up a little.
  • 4 Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt and set aside for glazing. Roll the puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 40cm × 30cm (16in × 12in) rectangle, then cut into 4 strips, each measuring 30cm × 10 cm (12in × 4in). Pipe the sausage meat mixture in a fairly thick line down the centre of each pastry strip and brush along one long edge of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Roll up to enclose and press down the edges firmly to seal (or you can use a fork to do this).
  • 5 Brush the sausage rolls with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle lightly with the sesame seeds and some of the chilli flakes, if using. Cut into 2.5cm (1in) lengths, wiping the knife each time to clean off the sausage meat, and arrange on the lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until crisp and golden. Transfer to a wire rack and enjoy, or leave to cool completely. Hand the sausage rolls around to your guests with napkins.
  • American-style Sloppy Joes

    Serves four to six

    1 tbsp rapeseed oil

    50g (2oz) raw chorizo, diced

    350g (12oz) lean minced beef

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    1 green pepper, diced

    1 fresh small green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)

    140g (4¾oz) tomato purée

    3 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar

    2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

    1 tbsp honey

    2 tsp Dijon mustard

    1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

    1 × 400g (14oz) tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce

    4-6 burger buns

    1 Little Gem lettuce, shredded

    100g (4oz) Cheddar cheese, grated

    Handful of mixed hot chillies in brine or sliced jalapeño chillies, drained (optional)

    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until it just starts to release its oil, then add the minced beef.
  • 2 Stir-fry until the meat starts to brown, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.
  • 3 Add the onion, green pepper and chilli (if using) and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the vegetables are beginning to soften. Add the tomato purée, sugar, vinegar, honey, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and stir until well combined, then stir in the beans.
  • 4 Season to taste, then bring to a simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is nice and thick.
  • 5 Toast the burger buns under the grill. Arrange the lettuce on the bottom of each bun, then spoon over the sloppy Joe beef mixture. Scatter the grated Cheddar on top with the hot chillies (if using), then sandwich together with the tops of the buns.