Former Packer LeRoy Butler writes cookbooks, stays busy in kitchen

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LeRoy Butler shows his LeRoy’s Rosemary Pork Chops at his Racine-area home. He is wearing one of his chef coats. (Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Former Green Bay Packer LeRoy Butler, the inventor of the Lambeau Leap, likes to cook.

So much so, this Wisconsin father of seven regularly prepares meals for family, friends and clients, and he’s written six cookbooks with another due out this fall.

“I love doing the domestic stuff,” said Butler, who wore No. 36 as a safety with the championship Super Bowl XXXI team. Today he’s a motivational speaker, author, sports commentator, podcaster and Packers Hall of Famer.

Amazingly, Butler has also amassed one serious collection of pots and pans over the many years he’s been cooking. The running total is 1,834, give or take a skillet or two, according to Butler’s children, who are actually keeping count.

The stockpile of stockpots is stashed throughout his Racine-area kitchen and has spread beyond state lines into his relatives’ kitchens. The last hefty pan he acquired weighed at least 10 pounds, he attested.

When it comes to cookware, he’s not brand loyal nor committed to any particular material. Stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic, anodized aluminum and copper. It doesn’t matter; they all attract him. When he and his wife, Genesis, married, he estimated over half of their wedding presents were pots and pans. Butler keeps buying more because he’s afraid he will run out.

His fantasy? Well, let’s just say it’s unique. Unlike some men who dream of scoring a big promotion at work, running a marathon or sinking a hole in one,

Butler’s wish is to have his own brand of pots and pans.

“LeRoy dreams of having his own signature pots. That’s breaking news,” he joked.

Wisconsin’s wide world of cheese

Growing up in Florida, Butler learned to cook with his mom, Eunice.

Little did he know, however, that when the Green Bay Packers drafted him in 1990 he would soon cross over into the cheese zone. Until then, his cooking world had been a two-cheese dimension consisting of cheddar and mozzarella.

“I didn’t know that there was that many types of cheeses before I moved here,” he explained. “I was just blown away.”

Since then, his cheese repertoire has expanded, especially after making the Dairy State his permanent home in 2006. One yummy example is LeRoy’s Famous 5-Cheese Creamy Mac & Cheese, which calls for nearly four pounds of five different types of cheeses, including Gouda and Colby Jack.

To show how far he’s progressed as a bona fide cheesehead, Butler admitted he thought Gouda was a type of lizard in his pre-Packers days.

Now, he’s fully schooled the Wisconsin way.

Another change he’s made while cooking in a northern state was dialing back the spices and sodium. Bland is subjective in cooking, and you’ve got one chance not to overdo it, he explained. Too much sodium is bad for those with high blood pressure. If some like it hot or salty, more seasonings can be added at the table.

Butler remembered that many fellow football players (who go unnamed) had no idea how to cook. He called them “cavemen.”

“Dude, your mom and dad didn’t teach you how to cook?” he’d comment. His cookbooks include his no-excuse slogan, “If you can read, you can cook.”

Fate and athletic talent may have brought Butler to Wisconsin, but cheese helped him really get cooking and seal the deal. The rest is history.

LeRoy’s domain

In addition to knowing his way around the gridiron, Butler knows his way around the kitchen. At home, it’s his domain.

In addition, he is the family grocery shopper and chief bottle washer. It’s part of a domestic agreement with Genesis, who handles the bulk of the child rearing. “It’s easier to cook,” he explained.

Butler said his wife works hard all day at a nearby bank and they function as a team in the Butler household. “It’s a partnership,” he said.

“He cooks seven days a week. I am in heaven,” said Genesis. “And, he texts me a menu sometimes.”

When cooking at home or out and about, Butler is adept using either a gas or electric stove, or venturing outside to grill or cook over an open flame. He always dresses the part, wearing a chef coat or apron, using clean hands without jewelry, not even his Super Bowl ring.

“I’m not really a jewelry person. I don’t think it’s sanitary,” he said, of wearing rings when cooking.

He is intently proud of his meatloaf, whipped mashed potatoes and mac & cheese dishes. “I have definitely mastered the meatloaf. It’s as tender as a mother’s love,” he said.

Meatloaf is on the menu for the family about three times a month. Even more frequently he’s cooking the mac & cheese and whipped potatoes.

His three kids who still live at home, Maria, Ciera and LeRoy IV, give him the thumbs up when he cooks. “When I saw my dad make his own Alfredo sauce, I was blown away,” said Maria, 17.

Ciera, 16, said her dad cooks in a chef coat every day and it makes her feel like she’s eating in a restaurant.

These days he runs his kitchen in a more relaxed manner in that he no longer orders everyone out when he creates meals. “Now, I let them taste test it” when cooking, he said. “I’ve changed over the years.”

He also shares his domain with Ciera, who likes to bake and decorate cupcakes, large cakes and brownies. “She likes messing around in the kitchen,” Butler said.

Green Bay Peppers

With Packers fans more than ready for some football, are they ready for some football food? Many fans will be staying home this season to serve their own game-time chow and drinks.

This includes Butler, who is planning a “plethora” of food including his chili, mac & cheese and the soon-to-be-available LeRoy Leaps Green ‘n Gold Game Day Brats for the opening game. Some of his menu items change over the season, but the chili and mac & cheese are constants.

A non-drinker and non-smoker, he will enjoy his usual Sprite or very cold glass of water at game time.

Some of Butler’s recipes, such as LeRoy’s Leap Loaf, Stuffed Green Bay Peppers and Game Time Pizza, are online at picknsave.com. Even the meatloaf calls for cheese.

Signed copies of Butler’s cookbooks are available at leroybutlerinc.com starting at $25. Even though the site lists only one of his cookbooks for sale, Butler said all six are available, just email him for an autographed copy.

His all-natural Leap Brats, developed from his personal recipe, will be available later this fall in restaurants and retailers. Butler’s youngest, 9-year-old LeRoy IV, approves of the new brats. “I was the first to taste his new brat, so the girls are jealous,” he said.

Butler’s cookbook number seven is due out by Thanksgiving weekend.

Look for an eighth cookbook on wild food aimed at hunters and anglers to publish late winter 2021. “You’ve had to have shot it” or went fishing for this one, he said. “The people in Wisconsin are going to love that.”

Jennifer Rude Klett is a Wisconsin freelance writer of history, food, and Midwestern life. Contact her at jrudeklett.com.

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LeRoy Butler shows a plate of his LeRoy Leaps Green ‘n Gold Game Day Brats (Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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With the Green Bay Packers 2020 season opener just days away, more people than ever are staying home to watch. For game time, here are three recipes from former Packer LeRoy Butler. These recipes have appeared in Butler’s six cookbooks. He routinely prepares the mac & cheese for every game.

Also included with each recipe are suggested pairings for beer, wine and no-alcohol beverages, courtesy of siblings Tom and Marie Greguska, owners of Discount Liquor with two locations in Waukesha and Milwaukee, 5031 W. Oklahoma Ave. The Greguskas studied each recipe and consulted with their seasoned team to come up with these expert suggestions. For more football food recipes, visit leroybutlerinc.com.

Football season in autumn is a great time to serve pork. Butler likes these chops over mashed potatoes.

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LeRoy’s Rosemary Pork Chops are served with vegetables. (Photo: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

LeRoy’s Rosemary Pork Chops

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 pork chops, 4 to 6 ounces each about one-inch thick (bone-in is best, but boneless is fine)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 8 shakes of dried parsley flakes
  • 6 bell peppers, assorted colors, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs in a medium bowl and dip each pork chop, coating both sides. Sprinkle seasoning salt on both sides, place pork chops on a plate and set aside. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and chops. Brown chops about two minutes per side. Place chops on baking sheet and sprinkle with rosemary, breadcrumbs and parsley on top. Place peppers on top of meat. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until chops are 145 degrees internally. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Pair these pork chops with:

Beer: Terrapin Hopsecutioner, the rosemary and herbs from the pork dish marry well with the hop-forward notes from this full-bodied IPA.

Wine: 2018 Siduri Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir, a full-bodied Pinot with an interesting mix of cranberry and plum notes with undertones of herb and spice that match the rosemary and parsley.

No-alcohol: Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA

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This mac & cheese recipe is a perennial football favorite of Butler’s that calls for five cheeses and feeds a crowd. This is a practical dish to make for company as the bulk of the work is done well before kickoff. Guests will be impressed by the wonderful aroma and golden crust, and this mac & cheese keeps plenty warm in a buffet setup.

LeRoy’s Famous 5-Cheese Creamy Mac & Cheese

Makes 10 to 15 servings

  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter (½ stick)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 1 pound Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound Colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar, shredded
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot on the stovetop, prepare macaroni according to package directions. Drain water and place macaroni back in same pot, stir in butter and eggs. Stir in cream cheese, then the remaining four cheeses until creamy. Pour into a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top, then parsley. Bake one hour or until top is golden brown and bubbling.

Pair this mac & cheese with:

Beer: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, this malt-forward classic complements the savoriness of this dish.

Wine: 2018 La Storia Russian River Chardonnay, a beautiful and complex chardonnay with ripe apple and pear notes plus a full, rich, creamy body and finish that matches the intense flavor of mac & cheese.

No-alcohol: Ariel Chardonnay Premium Dealcoholized Wine

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Using applesauce, whole wheat flour, cranberries and oats, this cookie recipe stacks up more wholesome than most. If you bake ahead of time, they are at their best warmed up before serving.

Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip & Cranberry Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 2 tablespoons butter (¼ stick), melted
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cup rolled oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix butter, applesauce, egg whites, vanilla and brown sugar in an electric stand mixer. In separate large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients to wet ingredients in mixing bowl. Add cranberries, chocolate chips, oats and mix thoroughly. Drop by large tablespoonsful onto cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven but let cool on sheet for another two minutes for a soft and chewy cookie with a crunchy bottom.

Enjoy these cookies with:

Beer: New Glarus Cran-Bic, the crisp tartness of this seasonal sour-fruited ale highlights the cookie’s cranberries.

Wine: 2018 Fritz Windisch Dornfelder red, this is a semi-sweet red with substance and plenty of red fruit and enough body to stand up to oats, chocolate and cranberries.

No-alcohol: Sprecher Door County Cherry Sod

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