Super Bowl pigskin picks, per usual: pizza, chicken wings, chili, chips and dips, beer.
With the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII scheduled for kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., party planning is well past the starting lineup and likely in bump and run coverage.
And we might as well get this out of the way now. With the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos battling for the Lombardi Trophy, it’s high time we note that the cities and their marijuana laws give new meaning to “pot luck” dinners. The teams represent the biggest cities in Colorado and Washington, the only states that have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. Tongues are wagging, computer keys clicking. The Super Oobie Doobie Bowl. The Pot Bowl. The Bud Bowl. The Let’s Bake Some Brownies Bowl.
Now, back to homegating with wings and things. Many consider wings a Super Bowl Sunday party must-have. To be clear, wings of chickens, not Seahawks.
So popular are the zing of wings that some people ask why you can’t get more wing dings from a chicken. This question, we assume, is asked by people who have never really thought about the anatomy of a common farm bird. It has wings, two of them. No genetic mutations have been developed (that we know of) to change that number to a 10-wing snack pack.
And shut the front barn door, the National Chicken Council surely has something to crow about. Based on the council’s 2014 Wing Report, 1.25 billion wings will be devoured on Super Bowl Sunday, matching the record level of 2012. That number is about 20 million more wings than were consumed last year during Super Bowl XLVII.
Too, 2014 also marks the 50th anniversary of the first “Buffalo Wing” being sauced and tossed at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., according to the chicken council that helps put the wing thing into perspective: if 1.25 billion wing segments were laid end to end, they would stretch from CenturyLink Field in Seattle to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford…not once, but 30 times. That is enough wings to put 572 wings on every seat in all 32 NFL stadiums.
Some 51 percent of American adults typically eat chicken wings with ranch dressing, according to a new National Chicken Council poll conducted online this month. Only about one-third (32 percent) prefer blue cheese dressing, with barbecue sauce in second place as the preferred dipping sauce at 35 percent. Buffalo wings are at the top of the heap among favorite flavors/styles, and some like it mild, others prefer hot, and 8 percent prefer the “atomic” heat range.
Americans eat the first two segments of a chicken wing — the “drumette” and the “flat” — but wing tips, known as “flippers,” are generally exported to Asia, especially China, where they are consumed with gusto.
Pig Wings? The mini bone-in pork shanks are served in some restaurants and, according to online postings on OrangeMane, the Online Tailgate Party That Never Ends, a Denver Broncos Fan Community, hog wings were popular at least one Super Bowl party.
A couple quick tips for your party prep work. If chili is on the menu, or a dip using sausage, for instance, cook the meat neatly and easily with the assistance of a potato masher. No, you won’t mush the meat to the consistency of whipped potatoes. Rather, the masher, as the meat cooks in a skillet, quickly separates the beef or pork into uniform pieces. You can decide how large or small you want the pieces and use the masher accordingly.
Here’s a super fast, although unusual, method for shredding chicken, such as for the ever-popular Buffalo chicken dip. Cook the chicken (we use a couple packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, oven baked in a treasured, third-generation, blue-and-white speckled roasting pan). Then, dump a few pieces of the hot chicken into a mixing bowl (don’t attempt to mix all the chicken at one time). Turn on mixer and gently give the chicken a whirl or two. Works amazingly well. Repeat the process with remaining chicken. Don’t over shred or, well, you don’t want to know what it would end up looking like.
Speaking of chicken, reminds us of feathers. An unrelated-food, did-you-know item: the design of the Seahawks’ uniform features 12 feathers as a tribute to the team’s 12th Man -- the fans who provide overwhelming support (and stadium noise) to the team.
On the Broncos’ turf, a Denver sandwich, also known as a Western sandwich, consists of an omelette (with fillers such as ham, onion, green pepper, and scrambled eggs), piled high between two slices of bread. Sounds sort of like a quarterback scramble.
If you want to score points with your guests with a treat that resembles a football, dip strawberries (washed and completely dry) in melted milk chocolate and then, after the milk chocolate has set, drizzle white melted chocolate onto the berry -- a thin circle of white near the top and bottom and then white lines across the middle to resemble lacing. A squeeze bottle, such as what we used to use at picnics for ketchup and mustard, works fine to make the lines with the melted white chocolate.
Of course, you can form a cheese ball into the shape of a football. Coating it with chopped nuts gives the spread more of a football color Accent with strips of a white cheese to “lace” the ball. Surrounding the football-shaped cheese ball closely with crackers makes an attractive presentation, but the platter can quickly turn into a messy mix of broken crackers and crumbles of cheese ball. Keeping the crackers on a separate platter, arranged artfully, is a better idea.
We offer some options for game day parties with a beef nod to Denver; a salmon salute to the Seahawks. And for the winners -- yes, you’re all winners in our (recipe) book -- let them eat cake, a stack of chocolate decadence.
Bronco Bourbon Barbecue Sliced Steak Sliders
For BBQ sauce, combine all ingredients in medium skillet and bring to a simmer, stirring from time to time. Simmer 20 minutes.
While the sauce reduces, drizzle the meat with vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high to high heat. Cook steaks 4 minutes on each side and let rest. Thinly slice meat on angle against the grain and add to the skillet with the BBQ sauce along with the beef stock to combine meat with sauce.
Serve sliced meat on soft rolls. Provide slider toppings from which guests can select: caramelized onions, a variety of pickles, sliced tomatoes, and a sweet-and-spicy cole slaw.
Source: Adapted from Gourmet Kosher Cooking
Yield: 12 sliders
Seattle Salad with Oregano-Roasted Salmon
Preheat the oven to 450°. Set a rack over a baking sheet and arrange the oregano sprigs in the center.
Rub the salmon with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the salmon skin side up on top of the oregano sprigs and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked through. Let cool slightly, then discard the oregano sprigs and salmon skin; break the salmon into large pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the chopped oregano and lemon juice. Gradually whisk in the remaining 1/ 2 cup of olive oil, then whisk in the olives and season with salt and pepper. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the olive vinaigrette. Add the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and chives to the large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Transfer the salad to a platter. Top with the salmon and feta. Drizzle the reserved olive vinaigrette over the salmon and serve.
Source: Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: 4 servings
Dark Chocolate Mocha Cake with Cookie Dough Filling
Directions for the cake:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.
In a large mixer bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, and salt until combined.
Add eggs, half-and-half, oil, and vanilla and mix well, on medium speed for about 2 minutes.
Stir in the hot coffee until the batter is smooth and thin. Pour evenly into the two pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 5-10 minutes, loosen cake around edges with sharp knife. Place wax paper atop wire rack. Turn out cakes onto the racks. Cool completely, and then fill and frost.
For the filling:
In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Mix in the half-and-half and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour until just well combined and then stir in, by hand, the chocolate chips.
For the frosting:
Cream butter until light and fluffy. Mix in brown sugar until the mixture no longer feels gritty when rubbed between your fingers. Gradually add confectioners sugar at low speed. Blend in flour, salt, milk, and vanilla.
You will have enough filling to split the layers and fill between the extra layers, if desired. Otherwise, place layer on serving plate, smooth filling over the layer and then top with other layer. Frost and decorate top and sides with mini morsels.
This is a very rich cake. Cut into slender slices, and it will serve 14-16.
Leftover filling and frosting, if any, can be refrigerated and used to fill and pipe onto a batch of cupcakes or stir into ice cream. You will be tempted to eat leftover frosting and filling with a spoon when nobody is looking.
NOTE: To slice cake layers evenly, insert toothpicks into the middle of a single layer, poking the toothpicks about 3/ 4 way into the cake. Insert several, say six or so, toothpicks in similar fashion a couple inches apart around the cake. Take a cake or bread knife and cut across the toothpicks, using them as guides. You will feel the toothpicks as you cross them with the knife. Keep an eye on your cut and adjust if needed to get even layers. Use a smooth knife motion; don't saw across the cake as if you are trying to loosen a branch on a tree. If you have placed the toothpicks evenly around the layer, you will end up with two even layers.