Welcome to Gamer Week, in which The Takeout will be celebrating the edible side of video games all week long.
I first met Old Gregg at a LAN party. LAN parties are the ultimate gamer social events: large numbers of gamers gather in one place to power their devices with the same local area network (LAN), eat snacks, and yell at screens together. They’re great, as long as you can get past the vague Cheeto dust/body spray aroma. LAN parties were organized monthly by my high school’s Nerd Club, an actual organization that drew gamers, comic book lovers, and kids who just wanted to hang out. I fit squarely into the latter category, as I had a crush on a member of the club and hung around LAN parties from time to time. It was at one of these parties when, grooving to the dulcet tones of Oingo Boingo, my crush showed me Old Gregg.
If you’re unfamiliar, Old Gregg is the star of a deranged sketch from British comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh. The sketch stars The Great British Baking Show’s Noel Fielding as Gregg, a sea creature who kidnaps an unsuspecting fisherman and carries him back to “Gregg’s place,” an underwater dwelling which has “all things that are good.” Gregg’s place has art supplies, a dead man in a skillet, and a steady supply of Bailey’s Irish Cream—i.e., all things that are good.
To this day, I use “all things that are good” to classify my favorite things. Snickers bars have all things that are good. That video of Kim Cattrall scatting has all things that are good. So, to honor Old Gregg, The Takeout’s Gamer Week, and that fateful LAN party, I set out to make a gamer-friendly entree containing all things that are good. I recognize that the gaming community contains multitudes, but for this exercise I leaned into the classics: Nacho Cheese Doritos, spicy nuts, cheese, and, of course, MTN DEW.
To develop my LAN-approved dish, I riffed on an age-old Midwestern tradition: cornflake casserole, which definitely contains all things that are good (read: all yellowish-tan ingredients). Midwesterners tote this casserole to every event imaginable, including church brunches, funerals, holiday dinners, outdoor potlucks, baby showers, and livestock birthing observation parties. Personally, I’ve always seen it as a breakfast dish thanks to the presence of both cornflakes and hash browns, but it’s one versatile mother.
To capitalize on the already stellar casserole, I needed to make it hearty enough to fuel a day of PWNing and innovative enough to tempt the discerning taste buds of America’s gamers. To accomplish that, I cooked the breakfast sausage in a zippy smattering of MTN DEW. Before you call me a n00b, know that the citrusy soda actually works great with the fatty pork, brightening it up a bit while enhancing the sausage’s savory bite. I imagine you could achieve similar results with bacon, but I didn’t have the patience.
To finish things off, I added a cornflake/Dorito/spicy nut topping. I was initially inspired by a baffling product known as NUTS OF DESTRUCTION (that is, ancho chili and lime flavored peanuts manufactured by GamerFood), but they were discontinued. So I settled for Takis Hot Nuts, which are freakin’ fuego, baby. The result was a hearty, cheesy, and surprisingly satisfying casserole that’ll keep you full for an entire day of merking fools.
- 16 oz. Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, regular or hot
- ¼ cup MTN DEW
- 1 lb. frozen hash browns
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 16 oz. sour cream
- 1 (10.5-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. diced onion
- ¾ cup melted butter
- 1 cup cornflakes
- ½ cup Nacho Cheese Doritos
- ½ cup Takis Hot Nuts
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven’s heating, brown your sausage in a large skillet. Add the MTN DEW when sausage is about halfway cooked through.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sausage, hash browns, cheese, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, salt, pepper, diced onion, and half a cup of the melted butter. (Save the rest of the butter for the crunchy topping.) Mix it all up until thoroughly combined, then pour the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish.
Combine the cornflakes, Doritos, and Takis in a plastic bag, then crush to your heart’s content. The result should still have some substance to it—you don’t want a bag full of tiny crumbs. Add the crushed topping to a bowl, then add in the remaining butter. Sprinkle the entire mixture over the top of the casserole.
Cover the casserole with foil and bake for one hour. Then remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes to ensure the topping reaches ultimate crispety-crunchety levels.