Ed note: We brought Archi Zuber aboard to give you some food prep advice prior Super Bowl Sunday, when you’ll consume at least eight animals. Read on, and please, if you don’t own a slow cooker make that purchase immediately.
It goes without saying that the Super Bowl is the reigning and undisputed champion of annual one-night events. Other sports leagues, television stations, and general forms of entertainment throw up a white flag of afternoon games and Big Bang Theory marathons in lieu of an actual attempt to offer opposition on Super Bowl Sunday. The popularity of football and the lack of anything better to do for people who don’t like football combine in a special way, leading some people to one of the most reliably strange evenings on the social calendar: The Super Bowl Party.
The Super Bowl Party has become a spectacle of its own, taking on various customs and traditions that we’ve all come to know and love just as much as the game itself. There has already been some excellent work done to prepare you for the high possibility of awkward small talk and confusion involved in faking your way through the night, and there has been an outline on how to calculating the right mixture of alcohol and strangers and pick the right party.
I’m here to help you if you’re ever put in charge of filling the stomachs of a handful of your friends, and also that one guy from the office who is cool in small doses that has been bugging you to hang out for like eight months.
Pre Game Show: Appetizers / Snacks
If you’re ever invited to a Super Bowl Pot Luck party where the host asks everyone to bring something, I cannot advise you strongly enough to a) read the article about picking better parties again, b) be the person who brings Nacho Dip. You get to shine early on in the evening before any of the heavy-hitting meals come out, vegetarian party-goers will appreciate you, and there’s a good chance the dip gets picked at late in the 4th quarter when everyone is full but still eating because it’s easier than making eye contact.The recipe (4-6 servings) is simple:
1- Combine one 8oz package of cream cheese, 1 cup sour cream, and taco seasoning. Spread on the bottom of a baking dish. Add 1 or 2 cups of salsa on top of the cream cheese-sour cream mixture. Top with lettuce and cheddar cheese. Consume in heaping amounts with tortilla chips.
That’s it. One step. It’s just that easy to be the person that looks like they went through a lot of trouble to prepare an appetizer.
Extra points: Easily upgrade to a seven-layer dip by adding a base layer of taco-spiced re-fried beans under the cream cheese mix, and adding different chopped veggies (onion, peppers, olives, tomatoes) to the top layer.
Aside from Nacho Dip, other good bring-along or setup snacks include bagged snack mixes, and chips with dip. Really though, the Nacho Dip person is going to get all the love.
Check-downs & Hand-offs: Ordering Pizza
Ordering pizza is the Pro Bowl of Super Bowl food plans. The Pro Bowl is still football and ordering pizza is definitely still eating, but where’s the sense of urgency? Where’s the heart behind it all? I can tell you where I’ve ate the best piece of pie, best rack of ribs, and best sandwich I’ve ever eaten, but the best time I ever ordered pizza? It’s all a hazy mix of drunk-dialing mixed with hangover dialing. More than anything, I can’t justify relying on someone else to provide the main event food at your Super Bowl Party. If you’re going to do that you may as well leave your fates in the hands of the KFC Gameday Bucket Go Boom! girl.
Plus, let’s all remember how much it sucks to try to organize a pizza consensus among a large group of people. “Two extra larges or a party tray?” “Meat lovers?” “Who doesn’t like mushrooms?” “Who likes olives?” “Saying you don’t care isn’t helping!” No thanks. We can do better.
Halftime Show: Buffalo Chicken Wings
Much like the halftime show, spicy chicken wings have become synonymous with the Super Bowl and excess. We tear at the fried meat while we pick apart performances of aging rock stars and blossoming pop acts, discarding the bones to the garbage like Janet Jackson’s metallic breast plates. Simply put, it isn’t a Super Bowl party unless there are wings that are painful to eat while you listen to music that is painful to hear. Here’s an easy guide to making crispy Buffalo Chicken Wings without a deep fryer.
1- Place 3/4 cup of flour, and 1/2 teaspoon each of cayenne, garlic powder, and salt in a re-sealable plastic bag and shake. Add the chicken wings to the bag, and toss until well coated. Place the wings on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil that has been lightly greased with cooking spray, and then place the sheet in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
2- Whisk together the 1/2 cup of melted butter and 1/2 cup of hot sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside (about 45 minutes).
Extra points: During step one, substitute garlic powder or cayenne for ranch dressing mix or parmesan cheese to make a stop in flavor city before getting all heated up in the hot sauce.
Remember to turn the wings over halfway through cooking to ensure they cook evenly and voila! You’re enjoying the Up With People of Super Bowl snacking.
Super Bowl MVP Chatter: Slow Cooker
It has come to the point of the post where I have to tell you that if you don’t own a slow cooker or crock pot, you’re lucky because you’ve still got time to change your life for the better before the weekend. No Super Bowl party really begins or ends without a slow cooker getting involved.
Game-Winning Drive: Pulled Pork
I really don’t even think I need to waste any words telling you how delicious pulled pork is, do I? My favorite recipe for gameday pulled pork could not be easier. Find a cut of pork you like (Whole shoulder, Boston Butt, or Picnic are great cuts, and even Pork Loin works) and watch the magic.
1- Pour two cans of root beer into the slow cooker along with the pork, cover, turn on ‘Low’.
2- Six-to-Seven hours later, strain the root beer out, pull apart the pork with forks and return to the slow-cooker. Mix thoroughly with your choice of BBQ sauce and set to ‘warm’. Serve whenever ready.
Extra points: You can literally season that pork with anything else you’d like, including brown sugar, dry mustard, hot sauce, corn, whatever you think would add flavor. For best results when adding ingredients, dial it back to one can of root beer and marinade overnight.
Controlling a football game is all about flow and field position. The beauty of the slow-cooker is that you won’t miss any of the game action tending to the meat. Start the process around noon and you’ll have plenty of time to pick at the pulled pork at your own pace come game time.
Trophy Presentation: Chili
At the top of the Super Bowl Party food mountain stands chili, bubbling and boiling over with parity and an intensity of flavors that perfectly matches the product of NFL football. It’s a slow-grinding process that can take up a whole day of your life and you’ll probably still be feeling the effects the next morning. Asking why do we eat chili is like asking why do people play football when they know the health risk. We do it because it’s what we love to do, and we were born to do it.
1- Place 1lb of ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain grease.
2- Place the beef in a slow cooker, mix in onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, tomato puree, kidney beans, and cannellini beans. Season with chili powder, parsley, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and hot pepper sauce.
3- Cover and cook eight hours on ‘Low
Extra Points: Put anything with any flavor you feel like to that mix. Chili is the Jackson Pollock painting of Super Bowl foods. It’s totally open to expression so throw anything you want at that slow cooker to see what sticks.
There you have it, my friends. A sure-fire slate of can’t-miss Super Bowl party classics. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve still got 3 1/2 days to get my stomach prepared for Sunday’s festivities, and I have to go shopping for pants two sizes bigger than the ones I’m wearing now.
Preparation, folks. It’s all in the preparation.