Super Eats: Make these dishes the centerpiece of your game day celebration

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Fresh, meaty opportunities

Super Bowl Sunday surely is one of the meatiest eating days of the year. But it’s still somewhat surprising the lengths some people will go to push their game day feed over the top. Last year, for example, some enthusiastic carnivores went as far as to build football arena replicas out of deli meats, cheese and bread.

Constructing stadiums out of cold cuts may be a great conversation starter, but it’s not likely to win you many accolades from the foodies in your life. Luckily, some recent trends on the butchering side of things are offering whole new ways to up your meat game, so to speak.

Up until recently, shopping for meat at the grocer generally meant you were limited to just a few mainstream cuts, says meat guru Bruce Aidells, author of last year’s “The Great Meat Cookbook.” Part of the problem was the standardization of the meat industry. Butchering skills waned because so much was handled at the industrial level.

But as consumers demanded better, more unusual meats — including locally raised — chefs needed to improvise. Many had to learn butchering skills in order purchase and use the sorts of meats their customers were looking for, says Tia Harrison, chef and co-owner of Sociale, a Northern Italian-inspired restaurant in San Francisco.

And in order not to waste a single bit, those chefs also began to develop and rediscover recipes for lesser known cuts of meat, including how to produce charcuterie.

Pretty soon restaurants were having wildly popular snout-to-tail supper nights where dishes made from every bit of the animal are served. The burgeoning market for local meat ultimately led to the art of butchering becoming quite hip. And that has influenced the meats available even at mainstream grocers.

Aidells welcomes the change as an easy opportunity for home cooks to try new, and better quality, cuts. And a meat-centric celebration such as a Super Bowl party is a fine time to give it a go.

For this years’ Super Bowl, consider trying this recipe from Aidells for Mexican beef brisket and winter squash chili. It takes a cut usually known for pot-roasting or barbecue and transforms it into a meaty, chunky chili.

— Jim Romanoff

Mexican Beef Brisket and Winter Squash Chili

Start to finish: 3 hours 15 minutes; Servings: 12

Recipe adapted from Bruce Aidells’ “The Great Meat Cookbook,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

6 dried ancho chilies

2 cups boiling water

6 ounces bacon, diced

4 cups chopped yellow onions

5 pounds first-cut beef brisket, cut into 3-inch chunks

Salt and ground black pepper

2 jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and chopped (optional)

6 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons chili powder

14½-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies

12-ounce bottle Mexican beer, plus more if needed

1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated

7-ounce can diced fire-roasted green chilies

3 cups 2-inch chunks peeled and seed butternut or banana squash

Finely chopped red onions (to garnish)

Peeled, seeded, and sliced avocado (to garnish)

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (to garnish)

Warm corn or flour tortillas

Tear apart the dried ancho chilies, then discard the seeds and stems. Place the torn chilies in a small bowl. Pour the boiling water over them, then soak until soft, at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours.

When ready to proceed, heat the oven to 325 F.

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté the bacon until it begins to brown. Add the onions and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Season the beef with salt and pepper. Remove the pot with the onions and bacon from the heat and stir in the beef.

Place the soaked chilies and about ½ cup of the soaking liquid in a blender (save the remaining liquid to add to the pot later, if needed). Add the jalapeños (if using), garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, coriander, chili powder, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Blend to form a puree, then add to the pot along with the diced tomatoes, beer, cilantro stems and green chilies.

Stir well, cover, place in the oven, and bake for 2 hours. If the chili becomes too dry during cooking, add some of the reserved chili-soaking liquid or more beer. The meat is done when it is fork tender. If the meat is not yet fork tender, return the covered pot to the oven and check it every 20 to 30 minutes. Once the meat is tender, stir in the squash and bake for 20 minutes more, or until the squash is tender.

Remove the pot from the oven. Use a spoon to skim off any fat on the surface of the chili. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between serving bowls with the cilantro leaves, red onions, avocado, cheese and tortillas on the side.

Per serving: 490 calories; 270 calories from fat (55 percent of total calories); 19 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 95 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 49 g protein; 1,010 mg sodium.

Guacamole: Fresh takes on a classic

photoIn this image taken on January 7, 2013, sweet heat bacon guacamole, front, chipotle corn guacamole, middle left, shrimp and mango guacamole, top, and roasted fresh salsa guacamole, middle right, are shown served in bowls in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

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Looking for a few simple ways to freshen up the go-to dish of the Super Bowl? We cobbled together a mighty tasty basic guacamole, then came up with four ways to turn basic into unbelievably good.

If sweet and heat are your style, go for guac mixed with brown sugar candied bacon and hot sauce. Heat fiends will prefer the corn and chipotle blend, while those who favor the exotic touch might like the shrimp and mango version. And for those who want it all? A roasted fresh salsa guac.

— J.M. Hirsch

Base Guacamole

Start to finish: 10 minutes;

Servings: 12

4 Hass avocados, skins and pits removed

4 teaspoons lime juice

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

¼ ground black pepper

In a medium bowl, use a fork or potato masher to mash the avocados. The guacamole should be mostly smooth, but with visible chunks. Mix in the lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Proceed with the recipe using one of the following mix-in combinations.

Guacamole is best served right away and at room temperature. If you must make it ahead and refrigerate it, cover it with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap over the entire surface of the guacamole. This, combine with the acid of the lime juice, should prevent the guacamole from browning.

Sweet Heat Bacon Guacamole

start to finish: 25 minutes;

Servings: 12

½ pound of bacon

Brown sugar

Hot sauce

Base guacamole

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a wire rack over it. Coat the rack with cooking spray. Arrange bacon evenly on the rack. Sprinkle the tops of the bacon liberally with brown sugar. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, or until the bacon is lightly browned, crisped and the sugar has caramelized. Let the bacon cool, then cut it into bite-size chunks.

Mix a splash of hot sauce (more or less, to taste) into the base guacamole recipe, then mix in three-quarters of the chopped candied bacon. Sprinkle the remaining bacon over the guacamole, then serve.

Per serving: 200 calories; 170 calories from fat (85 percent of total calories); 18 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 15 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 4 g protein; 320 mg sodium.

Shrimp and Mango Guacamole

start to finish: 15 Minutes;

Servings: 12

9-ounce bag frozen cooked and peeled baby shrimp

1 mango, finely chopped

Hot sauce

Base guacamole

Thaw shrimp, then drain and pat them dry. Peel mango, then cut the flesh away from the pit. Finely chop the mango, then stir it, the shrimp and a hefty splash of hot sauce into the base guacamole recipe.

Per serving: 140 calories; 90 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 30 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 6 g protein; 200 mg sodium.

Chipotle Corn Guacamole

start to finish: 10 minutes;

Servings: 12

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ cup diced red onion

1 cup corn kernels (if canned, drain them very well)

3 minced garlic cloves

1 diced canned chipotle pepper packed in adobo sauce (reserve sauce)

Base guacamole

In a medium skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil. Add onion, corn kernels and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in chipotle pepper. Stir the mixture into the base guacamole recipe, as well as 1 tablespoon (more or less, to taste) of the adobo sauce from the can.

Per serving: 130 calories; 100 calories from fat (77 percent of total calories); 11 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 2 g protein; 170 mg sodium.

Roasted Fresh Salsa Guacamole

Start to finish: 20-25 minutes;

servings: 12

Base guacamole, omitting salt

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers (drained, patted dry and diced)

¼ cup diced red onion

1 diced jalapeño pepper (with or without seeds, depending on your heat tolerance)

4 minced cloves of garlic

Slice tomatoes in half, then toss them with oil, garlic powder, salt and black pepper. Spread the tomatoes evenly over a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 425 F for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Stir the roasted tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red onion, jalapeño pepper and garlic into the base guacamole recipe.

Per serving: 150 calories; 110 calories from fat (73 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 2 g protein; 270 mg sodium.

Sweet, sticky, totally tender ribs

photoSweet and Sticky Slow-Cooked Short Ribs are served on skewers.

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The day of the big game calls for big, stick-to-your-ribs grub.

So we went with that as a theme, creating a recipe for boneless beef short ribs that are inspired by all the sweet and sticky goodness of Chinese-style pork ribs. To keep you in front of the television instead of the stove, we kept the recipe simple. Start by dumping everything in a bowl to marinate.

When you’re ready to cook, transfer it to a baking sheet and pop it in the oven. Done.

To make sure the ribs are meltingly tender, they cook low and slow while you watch the first half of the game. They should be good to eat right around half-time.

And if beef isn’t your thing, the same approach will work with pork ribs and chicken wings, although you’ll need to adjust the cooking time.

— Alison Ladman

Sweet and Sticky Slow-Cooked Short Ribs

Start to finish: 1½ hours (plus marinating); Servings: 12

The servings indicated are for appetizer portions. If the friends gathered around the game are hearty eaters, or this is to be served as a main course, plan accordingly.

½ cup hoisin sauce

½ cup rice vinegar

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

¼ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon

red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon

five-spice powder

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

3 cloves minced garlic

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into long, thin strips (¼ inch thick by 1 inch wide)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the hoisin, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, five-spice powder, sesame oil and garlic. Reserve ½ cup of the mixture in a small bowl. Add the short ribs to the original mixture and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or overnight.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 275 F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and place a baking rack over each pan.

Arrange the short ribs on the rack and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until tender. Brush the ribs with the reserved ½ cup of marinade and increase the oven temperature to 450 F. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, or until browned and caramelized. Thread a skewer through each piece of meat to serve.

Per serving: 270 calories; 130 calories from fat (48 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 23 g protein; 650 mg sodium.