Eddie Jackson heats up a tasty conversation on football food, exclusive interview

Eddie Jackson for Whirpool, photo provided by Whirpool
Eddie Jackson for Whirpool, photo provided by Whirpool /

As one of the popular Food Network chefs, Eddie Jackson welcomes food lovers with warm smile and a promise of a delicious dish. From easy to master recipes to discovering new flavor combinations, the charming chef has endeared himself to many people. In addition, he encourages people to serve a little balance with his recipes. The former football player appreciates that great food puts the focus on flavor, not labels. With his collaboration with Whirlpool, Jackson shows that smart appliances make easy work of favorite game day recipes.

Creating an efficient and stylish kitchen is easier than it seems. While some programs might make it seem like the cabinets need to be overflowing with every kitchen essential. Instead, a multi-function product can be more efficient. Yes, an oven can do more than just bake and broil; the Whirlpool Smart Ranges and Wall Ovens are great examples.

Recently, FoodSided spoke to Eddie Jackson about his love of chicken wings, game day food suggestions, and the importance of multi-function appliances. While it might not instantly make a home cook the Next Food Network Star, the advice will be a win for that game day menu.

On game day, some foods are classics. Chicken wings are one of those dishes. But, one big food debate usually surrounds the chicken wing. Putting aside the dipping preferences (i.e. ranch vs. blue cheese), some people are adamant about drums or flats.

When asked about his preference for drums or flats, Jackson said, “Oh, chicken wings, drums or flats. That is a question I get all the time. Listen, I love both equally. I cannot decide between the two. I’ve been asked this so many different times, but I cannot decide.”

Although he is split down the middle on that food debate, he did have some advice when it comes to the potential “messiness” of eating chicken wings.

On a less messy way to eat chicken wings, Jackson said, “Well, no, there isn’t. You know what you’re getting yourself into. However, when you talk about chicken wings, you either get them wet or you can get them dry. So, if you get them dry, that’s a little bit less messier than the wet. But I like both. I have sauces that I’ve made that are wet sauces, and I have rubs that I utilize that it’s a dry rub and I love both of them just the same. I know that didn’t answer the question, but I’m being honest.”

Since chicken wings are often a favorite football food, it can be important for the host to have an overflowing plate to feed the crowd. While some people serve a big half time meal and others prefer to let people graze all game long, Jackson shared his approach.

He said, “I just put everything out before the game and just let people kind of pick at it as they choose. Because once the game starts, I want to be done. I want to be relaxing, enjoying myself, having fun with my friends or my family, whoever I’m watching the game with. I don’t want to be going back and forth to the kitchen and putting more food out. I want everything to be done when the game starts.”

While chicken wings are a favorite football food, the recipes vary. From Buffalo to BBQ to global flavors, there are many flavors that have people licking their lips.

Recently, Jackson shared a Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wing recipe. When asked about his inspiration for this recipe, Jackson revealed how it came to be.

“With the spicy chicken Parmesan wings, I love chicken Parmesan. I always wanted to try to figure out how I can get that same flavor combination into a chicken wing. Chicken wings allow you to be extremely creative and I’m like, why not make a chicken parmesan chicken wing?”

Eddie Jackson Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wing recipe
Eddie Jackson Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wing recipe, photo provided by Whirpool /

One aspect to this recipe that is intriguing is the use of lemon. Jackson believes that “the lemon goes really well with it because of the herbs that you have inside of it. When you think about tomato sauce, you think about herbs. I personally think of the freshness of some lemon. So, I feel like the lemon is key in kind of bringing everything together itself. It’s truly like every time you take a dip of that crispy chicken wing into that red sauce with the cheese on it and all the herbs that you have, and a little bit of that lemon, it’s like you’re taking a continuous bite of chicken parmesan. The only thing that’s missing is the noodles.”

Although there might be a few less carbs on the plate with this Spicy Chicken Parmesan Wing recipe, it does not mean that people need to skip certain foods. Instead of putting a label on it, like “cheat day,” Jackson has a simple philosophy.

“I try to live a balanced lifestyle. I’ve never been someone that says, don’t eat this. It’s all about creating balance and moderation in your life. And the cool thing about this, I think that sometimes, chicken wings are either they’re fried or they’re tossing all these different sauces and things like that, it can come across as a cheap meal, which most game day food can be considered a cheat meal. I think the good thing about this recipe, the spicy chicken parmesan wings, is that using that air fryer, we’re cutting out the oil but we’ve not taken away any of the flavor. So now, you’re talking about not so much a cheat day meal, it’s just a good, delicious recipe that you can eat anytime for sure.”

Many people have turned to kitchen essentials, like an air fryer, to enjoy favorite recipes with a little more balance. For Jackson, he has a simple approach to ensuring that his kitchen can make quick work of any culinary creation.

Jackson has a simple approach, He said, “You want to have good tools in the kitchen. You want to have a good sharp knife. You want to have a good set of tongs. You want to be able to have all the right equipment to just make your entertaining or make game day, or whenever you are having people over, you just want everything to run smoothly. I think having good appliances as well will help. So, when you have something like the Whirlpool Smart Oven that can do a lot of different things from convection, even has different items on there where you can put in the type of protein that you are cooking, whether it’s chicken or beef, and it will give you temperature settings and suggestions and things like that. But then the air fryer mode, now you have an oven that is an entire air fryer, where you can take these recipes that you have, that you would normally fry or grill or do these different things, and now you can air fry them. Now you’re adding to your arsenal to really put on just a kick butt game day.”

Specifically looking at Jackson’s chicken wing recipe, the use of the air fryer makes the dish easy for any home cook. Add to that situation, the air fryer is built into the Whirlpool oven, it simplifies the process event more.

Jackson believes, “I think having that air fry mode makes cooking chicken wings a little bit more approachable. You can cook chicken wings different ways, grill or smoke them or fry them. But I think most people fry their chicken wings and having that air fry mode is going to make it extremely approachable for a couple of different reasons, right? For one, when your fry a lot of extra grease, which means a lot of extra fat and then also like when you fry things in your house, they get smoky and stinky. Your house smells like fried food for like days on end. Now you can get the same great crispy product that’s not going to lack in flavor, and you don’t have to suffer your house smelling like fried chicken wings for three days until the next game day comes up.”

Now that the menu is set for game day, there is only one more question that had to be answered. As a former NFL player, FoodSided had to ask for a season prediction and some teams to watch.

Jackson commented, “Right now going into it you have the Rams, it’s the reigning super bowl champion and a lot of people have them picked to be in the running again. But I don’t think so. I keep saying this, I think it will be some team that’s unexpected. So, the Arizona Cardinals or the Buffalo Bills. I think the Bills play the Rams in the season opener, so that will tell a lot for the rest of the season. If the Bills really beat up on the Rams, I think that my decision will be pretty spot on.”

Will Eddie Jackson NFL predictions be correct? Those comments remain to be seen but cooking some tasty chicken wings with the Whirlpool Smart Ranges and Smart Ovens always score a win with home cooks.