Monday, January 6, 2014

Super Bowl Party Menu: Ideas From Chef Telltale

There are traditional holidays, where good, down home cooking is to be expected, like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, I love those two holidays, but as far as food goes, my favorite holiday is Super Bowl Sunday. Most times, I will either host a Super Bowl party, or I'll go to one. I am NOT just sitting at home watching it like it was just another Sunday watching the Dolphins lose. You gotta do the Super Bowl parties, and rule number one of cooking for a party is very simple: Don't be lame.

Now THAT is an appetizer tray!!!

But you already knew that, of course.

Super Bowl parties are great because not only are you there with friends, you're cooking. You're trying new ideas, or making signature dishes. You are the chef and the kitchen is your kingdom. And, you have a deadline. If you aren't finished cooking by the time your guests arrive, you are missing out on the fun. Any cooking done after the guests arrive should be along the lines of dropping more chicken wings into the fryer, or getting more hot dogs ready. If you need more burgers, they should already be pattied out, and ready to go on the grill.

Now, here are my rules for when I host a Super Bowl party.

  1. Nothing is to be frozen. Not the wings, the hot dogs, the burgers, or anything. Fresh only in my kitchen! (The exception is if you made something fresh the day before and froze it so you can fry it.) 
  2. Hot dogs are not to be boiled. They are to be fried. Try it. You'll love it. Grilled tastes great, but they take too long to cook. Frying them only takes about 2 minutes.
  3. We will NOT run out of beer, although guests are encouraged to bring their own alcohol.
  4. Do not ask me for BBQ sauce for hot wings. Frank's Original Red Hot, or my own Red Death sauce only. If you want BBQ sauce, bring your own, and I will give you some non sauced wings.
  5. Wings are only to be fried. Large quantities of wings can be cooked outside in a turkey fryer. I have done this many times at tailgates, and it works great.
  6. Cold cut sammiches are best bought from a deli. Its much easier, and in the long run will cost about the same as making it yourself. 
Now that we have those rules out of the way, we can get down to business. Need menu ideas? Here ya go. Some ideas to tweak the basics:

I always try to base what my menu is on the teams that are playing...or more specifically, the team I want to win. For example, when the Saints and Colts played in the Super Bowl, I had Cajun Surf and Turf, because I wanted the Saints to win. That was an easy one. My daughter had just been born a week earlier, so I didn't have a party that year, and I was only cooking for my wife and me. Simply coat a ribeye steak lightly with olive oil, then with Cajun seasoning, and grill it. (I like to make my own Cajun seasoning, but it isn't necessary.) Take as much shrimp as you want, and cook it in lemon juice. Pour the lemon juice out, and dump the shrimp into a bowl, pour a mixture of Frank's Red Hot, butter, and Cajun seasoning over them, and shake them just like you would with hot wings. Serve with potato and garlic bread. A meal fit for a king. Saint.


Now, you could serve steaks at your party. Simply have everyone who wants to eat steak show up early and bring their own. You cook it for them with whatever marinade or rub you decide to serve. I've done that before. Potatoes are easy if you don't want to get french fries. Simply get a bag of potatoes, and wrap as many of them in foil as you will need. Then, bake them all together at 400 degrees for about an hour or so.

Now, I mentioned hot wings. Everyone loves hot wings, and everybody thinks they make great wings. They don't. First of all, if you are baking or grilling your wings, you aren't doing them right. They should be deep fried only. Second, you don't have to have a 'secret hot sauce.' People like to take hot sauce, and add all sorts of crap to it. Its overkill, and it doesn't taste good. All you need is Frank's Original Red Hot. OR, their Buffalo Wing Sauce. Its good too, but I prefer the original. Fry em, shake em, serve em. The people you served them to will swear that you bought them from a sports bar, even though they saw you cooking them.

Hamburgers: Whether you cook them on a pan or grill, here are a couple tips that will work on either. First, when you patty them out, flatten them out then while the beef is still raw. Don't smash them while they are cooking. You'll squeeze all the juice out of them, and you lose taste when you do that. Also, throw out the Worcestershire Sauce, garlic and all that other stuff that people put on burgers. Its overkill. Try this: Salt and pepper only, and when the patty is done, pull it off, set it on a plate, and melt butter over the top and under the burger. Make sure there is a little bit of yellowish white tint on the entire burger. TRUST me. Also, see if you can find a ground beef/pork blend. That is EXTREMELY good, and it costs less than whole beef.

Dip! Now, I'm not going to bore you with telling you to get potato chips, or anything like that. Yes, you'll need lots of appetizers, chips, dips, etc. But, here's a twist on spinach dip. First of all, making spinach dip is super easy. Mix spinach with ranch dressing, and cook it. But did you ever try it with some type of meat? I tried it with fish once. A pound of tilapia, and cooked it all until the fish was done. (I suggest swai because its cheap. You wouldn't want to use mahi mahi with this.) That's so easy. All you have to do is not burn it. The fish will fall apart when it's done. Its best served hot though. Dip away! You can also use chicken. Dice up chicken breast and cook it with the dip.

Want to serve meatballs? Want an extremely easy way to cook them and make them tasty? This is how I make mine. I simply roll meatballs, and put them in marinara sauce. (the beef/pork blend works just fine for meatballs too) Put them in a pot on the stove and cook on medium/low. Gently stir every now and then. They will be the absolute easiest thing that you'll make all night. And the beauty of it is that they will be seasoned when they are done. No need to add anything, unless you want to spice up the sauce. Use alot of sauce so the meatballs are covered, and when you put them out, have a pair of tongs so that people can get the meatballs. Also have some Swiss, Provolone, or Mozzarella cheese slices nearby so people can dip them in the sauce. 2 appetizers in one! Personally, I make my own marinara sauce from scratch, but it isn't necessary.

So easy a ___ can do it!

Love pork sammiches? This also is much easier than you think. You don't have to be a BBQ guru to make awesome pulled pork sammiches. First thing when you get up in the morning, put a piece of pork in the slow cooker on high...or the night before set it on low and let it cook overnight. It is done when the pieces easily
pull off. (pulled pork) Put it in a bowl, douse it with BBQ sauce, and stir it up. Then, plop it in a bun, and you're done! Unless your guests come from a BBQ family like I do, your they won't know the difference between your slow cooked pulled pork and slow roasted pulled pork.

Pepper Poppers: First thing to remember about poppers. You will need to make them the day before and freeze them. These are usually done with jalapeno peppers, but I don't particularly like jalapenos. I use the same recipe, but with habaneros. Cut the stem off each pepper, and using a toothpick, gently scrape out the seeds and pulp. Carefully put bits of cheddar cheese inside the pepper skin. Put as much as you can in it without damaging the shell of the pepper. You can also mix cheddar with a little bit of cream cheese. Now, take the seeds, and mix them with a batter. All purpose flour, milk, egg, salt, garlic. Dip the stuffed peppers into the batter, then bread them with flour with bread crumbs, salt, and garlic added. Then, once they are breaded, put them on a cookie sheet and freeze them overnight. Deep fry them the next day. For  mozzarella sticks, use the same technique, except just dip mozzarella cheese sticks into the batter and breading, minus the pepper seeds. Serve them with marinara sauce.

And, ONE more entree: Oven Roasted Beef Brisket. Its easier than you might think to make an
awesome brisket. What takes the most time is making the rub. Get a 4 or 5 pound piece of brisket beef. Then, rub it completely with olive oil. Not too much, not too little. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then, cover it with your rub, put it in a pan with a wire rack at the bottom, and bake it for one hour. Then, cover the bottom of the pan about a 1/2 inch with beef broth, cover tightly with foil, lower the temperature to 300 degrees, and bake for 2.5 to 3 hours. Use a meat thermometer after 2.5 hours to determine how rare vs done you want it. The rub can contain whatever you want in it. You can use BBQ sauce, but I don't recommend it. A basic rub would be for a 4 to 5 pound piece of meat, 2 tablespoons of salt, 1.5 tablespoons of chili powder, half a tablespoon of cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of sugar, a crushed bay leaf, 2 tablespoons of ground mustard. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare, then forget about it for a couple hours.

These are just a few items you can cook for your Super Bowl party that are sure to leave you with the distinction of Super Bowl Chef. Try them out, and let me know how it worked for you either here or on Google+. But for now, consider some of these, and good luck with your Super Bowl party! My goal is to make you LEGENDARY!

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