Food & Drink

The key to a great Super Bowl party is the snacks

Besides the game itself, the Super Bowl is all about the snacks.

The rules:

■ Snacks need to be portable so they can be eaten in front of the television, not while you're sitting at a dining-room table.

■ Finger foods are the bomb.

■ The basic snack food groups are: protein (Velveeta and hot wings), vegetables (hot peppers), dairy (dip) and grains (chips).

■ You also need plenty of canned beverages to wash it down.

“Hot wings, sandwiches, egg rolls, little vegetables, that kind of thing,” said Art Carroll of Roseville, Calif.

Crudites?

“Well, not so much that,” he said. “My wife makes me eat them, but I don't really like it. Lots of chips and dip. Beer. Hard liquor. Good stuff.”

Carroll belongs to three fantasy football leagues. Super Bowl Sunday is party day at his house, and he often hosts 25 or more football enthusiasts.

“I'm a football junkie,” Carroll said. “For the Super Bowl, we get together early in the day, play poker and watch the game. I love it.”

When it comes to food for the big party, Carroll says you need to concentrate on things that won't take too much time away from the television.

“One year, we tried to do steaks,” he said. “That didn't work out. It took too much time. What you want is stuff you can pile on your plate. Then you can find your seat and settle in till the commercials come on. You don't want to have to be getting up to check steaks on the grill.”

The required menu item is hot wings, Carroll said.

“When it's at my house, I always cook the wings,” he said. “You've got to have wings, or everyone will be disappointed. Quick stuff is better. You know, stuff you can put in the oven or just put on the table that doesn't take much time.”

We went in search of “good stuff” at www.tailgate.com. The site is hosted by Joe Cahn of New Orleans, the self-appointed “commissioner of tailgating.” Cahn logs about 30,000 miles a year in his RV, visiting 45 stadiums and tailgate events. He collects recipes from football fans across the country and posts the best on his Web site.

Although we can't vouch for any of the recipes we found on the site, most speak to the fortitude, if not the digestive tracts, of football fans. For example:

Piggy cheese dip: Basically it's a pound of cooked bacon, a pound of cooked sausage, a healthy glug of Habanero Tabasco sauce and 2 pounds of Velveeta cheese, all melted together in a slow cooker. You serve it with a couple of bags of tortilla chips and a lot of beer. And, we would imagine, Tums.

Giants flank steak: A New York Giants fan from south Jersey offered this recipe for steak sandwiches: Take one big flank steak and poke it with a fork about 100 times. Cut shallow cross-slits across the steak on both sides. Soak it overnight in soy sauce, minced garlic and black pepper. Grill it to rare stage on a charcoal grill and brush it with teriyaki barbecue sauce before you take it off the grill. Cut the steak in very thin slices and serve on steak rolls.

Rattlesnake tails: These appetizers can be made a day in advance and reheated on game day. Cut two jars' worth of jalapeños in half and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Melt Velveeta in a pan over low heat. Stir constantly while the cheese melts. Fill the jalapeño pepper halves with melted cheese. Chill until the cheese is firm. Dunk the filled peppers in an egg batter (the kind you might use for waffles or tempura) and roll in bread crumbs. Place the peppers back on the foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot.

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