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Super Bowl Super Foods

February 5, 2010

by Chef Gusteau

It is truly amazing how Super Bowl Parties have become just as much about the food and commercials as the football game itself.  When else can you have such a wide assortment of friends, TV, food and beverages?  That said, actually hosting a Super Bowl party can be stressful, particularly when faced with the menu quandary.  Is there an ideal Super Bowl menu?  Can you ever make enough food?  The answer to both is probably “no” but we can certainly delve into some fun ideas to help you plan for the big day!

To begin with, don’t get bogged down trying to do too much.  Everyone will have a great time, and your food will never make or break the fun to be had…unless, of course, you give everyone food poisoning.  Let’s start with avoiding that outcome as the first step.  Understand that whatever food you put out for your friends, you need to keep safe for many hours.  That means hot food needs to stay hot, and cool foods cold.  Bacteria and other little nasties grow in food that is within a range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, affectionately called the “Danger Zone” (not the “End Zone” unless you eat too much).   Also, most food is safe at room temperature for about 2 hours.  At that point, you either need to heat that food up again to above 140, or cool it down to below 40.  Keep this information in mind when planning your menu.  Items like a potato/macaroni salad with a mayonnaise based dressing will be a challenge to keep safe without an ice bowl or constant maintenance.  Raw items like sushi will also be a challenge as you can imagine, as you can neither heat it up nor cool it down (chilled sushi rice tastes awful).  My secret to Super Bowl planning is my very own acronym “FIVE.”  Your menu should include Finger food, Interactive food, Variety of food, and Entertainment.

Assuming you want to encourage a social environment with lots of interactions and mingling, you wouldn’t want everyone sitting down to eat dinner in a formal manner.  Understanding this, you should somehow configure your menu to incorporate finger foods and small plate types of foods.  Skewered food is a great idea.  Mini hors d oeuvres are also quite popular.  Spaghetti and meatballs, while delicious, might not be the best idea…especially if you have a lot of light colored carpets.  Grazing is the right idea…a quick bite of something and then back to the commercials.

Interactive foods are my way of cheating, and can be yours as well.  By interactive, I actually am referring to making the guest do a lot of the work.  Sure, I could plate up a great entrée and give it to each guest.  Or, I could leave it out in separate bowls/plates, all the cooked components of an “entrée” and let the guest assemble it in any manner they choose.  In this way, each guest gets exactly what they want each time.  This leads us to the next idea, variety.

Ok, now that you have an idea of foods to either avoid or really watch, what should you make?  Well, one key that I have found successful is to serve a variety of foods.  This is one time when you really do have to make everyone happy…every cook’s nightmare.  But with the right approach, this challenge is very manageable, without having you cook 3 days ahead of time!  Expect that you will have many people with dietary restrictions, aversions, and, heaven forbid, perhaps even a vegetarian in the crowd.  I know scary stuff indeed.  So, in your menu planning, think about one red meat dish, one chicken type, one pasta, and some type of vegetarian component.  This approach should allow you to have a little something for everyone.

Finally, Entertainment!  Have fun with your menu!  Perhaps you and a friend could prepare signature items representative of the hometowns of each team playing.  Your guests could determine the winner at the end if you want to make it competitive.  Encourage your guests to bring in one small dish representative of their favorite team.  Devoted fans will be torn between cheering for their team and perhaps enjoying your delicious dish representative of their opponent!  True test of gourmet excellence for sure!

Ok, you might be saying (especially if you hang out with Anton at all, drinking of course) that Chef Gusteau is all talk.  Well I’ll have you know that I am expecting close to 50 to my house on SB day, and my menu is complete.  Here we go…and no copying Anton. I will even utilize my “FIVE” acronym to illustrate my points.

F: Rack of Lamb; when you serve this as single bone chops, it really does look like a meat lollipop.  For the vegetarians coming, I will have available roasted ratatouille tartlettes.

I: Do it yourself fajitas with all the sides.

V: About those fajitas, the proteins will be shrimp, flank steak, and chicken; for the vegetarians, I will have a wide assortment of roasted vegetables (portabellas, asparagus, etc).

E: It’s all about the chili.  I will have two types of chili, one with a kick of bayou in it, and one more on the Indy style of chili.

Sounds easy and fun.  I will probably add a few more dishes in each category, because as a Chef, I also believe that the “E” in the acronym also stands for “enough” – you can never have enough good food!

Have fun; enjoy the food and friends and commercials.  Thanks for checking in with us at At the Pass!  And for those loyal ATP fans out there, yes, Anton and I are cheering for different teams.

Monsieur Anton says:  Screw the game.  When do we eat!  I’m getting hungry looking at the menu.  Of course, no Super Bowl party is complete without liquid refreshment.  The obvious would be beer.  You’re going to need a representative beer for each home team.  New Orleans is easy.  Dixie Brewing’s Blackened Voodoo Ale, a dark lager is always a good choice.  Indy presents a bit of a challenge however.  The only beer from Indiana I know about is The Bee Creek Breweries Honey Wheat Ale. Good luck finding it.  If you can’t find the Bee Creek, I guess if you want to get disgusting you can play off the name and get some Colt 45!

Ah cocktails!  Colts fans can score with a Dreamy Blue with equal amounts of blue curacao and white crème de cacao to mimic the powder blue of the jerseys.  Saints faithful can delight in the classic New Orleans cocktail, the Sarazac made with rye whiskey, simple syrup, Peychaud bitters and the newly legal absinthe.

It is going to be a long day so be sure to stock some less filling light beers and soft drinks.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2010 3:42 pm

    Valuable info and glorious style you got here! I would like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time into the things you post!! Thumbs up

    • February 6, 2010 7:51 pm

      Christi! Thank you very much for tuning in! Appreciate the comments…Anton and I will continue along hoping that everyone has as much fun as we do on At The Pass. Have a great weekend! Chef Gusteau.

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