The biggest sports day of the year arrives on Sunday: a day when many of us will be in on the action.
The annual NFL championship game — on Feb. 2 this year — has become a global event. According to Nielsen, the 2013 game, which pitted the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers, drew an average of 108 million viewers, peaking at 113.9 million during the final 17 minutes of the broadcast, when the Ravens withstood a furious rally from the 49ers, ultimately winning the game 34-31.
Fans and non-fans alike typically spend at least some time watching the big game, and most of us do so at parties geared around the game itself. A good Super Sunday party can make the game that much more enjoyable (even for the less interested among us).
Classic commercials, some great action on the field and great friends are all quintessential elements of the perfect game day get-together. The biggest obstacle for many Super Sunday shindigs is how to best tackle the menu. Ideal dishes need to be finger-friendly, universally appealing and well suited to feeding a hungry gang.
Plan ahead and prepare as much of the food as possible before the blitzing begins, so you don’t have to miss any of the pre-game fun shut-out in the kitchen. And be sure to stock your roster with reserves: in addition to your starting line-up of dishes, you may also want to consider preparing items that you don’t bring out until half-time.
Simplify your set up by choosing shareable favorites, bowl dips and finger foods.
Also, give the fans at your party a way to express their passion for the game and their team. Pick up a couple of soft foam footballs that can be hurled at opposing fans at the party when a big play is made. And be replay ready: set up your DVR the night before so you can be sure to capture close calls and commercials for a second look or laugh.
Sideline that game day stress with these recipe ideas guaranteed to be the MVP of your party planning playbook. On game day, remember that dip is king. From savory to sweet, this simple party addition can take on flavors that span the globe, or that are as American and as beloved as the gridiron game itself.
Keep it light. Not everyone wants to splurge all their day’s calories on Super Sunday, so be sure to have lots of fresh, crunchy vegetables on hand. Start with your standard dippers — like sliced carrots, broccoli and cucumbers or score big with unique vegetable dipper options — like snap peas, asparagus spears and
Serve delightful dippers. Potato and tortilla chips go hand-in-hand with gridiron festivities, but beyond these standards is a whole world of other dipping options. For a Mediterranean touch, go with flatbread, pita bread or pita chips. Instead of the same old crackers, opt for more texture with multi-grain varieties that include raw flax or sesame seeds. Or, serve up a warm batch of Buffalo wings (always a game day favorite), along with a smoky and spicy Hummus Buffalo Wing Dip.
Hummus Buffalo Wing Dip
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup hummus
Whisk first seven ingredients together (vinegar through paprika). Add hummus and combine thoroughly.
Traditional Buffalo Wings
An oven-baked version of the classic.
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) mild to medium hot sauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 pounds chicken wings, separated into 2
pieces and wing tips discarded
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
Blue cheese dressing (optional)
Celery sticks (optional)
Place 1 cup of the hot sauce, the buttermilk, and the garlic powder in a large resealable plastic bag and stir to combine. Add the wings; seal the bag, pressing out any excess air; and turn the bag to coat the wings evenly. Let marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, for at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.
Heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on it.
Remove the wings from the marinade, letting any excess drip off, and arrange in a single layer on the rack. (If possible, don’t allow the wings to touch.) Discard the marinade and broil the wings until the meat starts to pull away from the bones and the skin is deep golden brown, bubbling, and crisped, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the wings over using tongs. Return wings to the oven and continue broiling until the skin is deep golden brown, bubbling, and crisped on the second side, about 12 minutes more.
Meanwhile, combine remaining 1/2 cup hot sauce and melted butter in a large bowl and set aside. Add cooked wings and toss to coat. Serve immediately with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, if using.
Baked Jerk Chicken Wings
Chicken wings, like nachos, have become synonymous with Super Sunday. Here’s a twist on the classic wing.
18 whole chicken wings, or 12 drumsticks
1 ½ cups jerk marinade
1 ½ cups tamarind-apricot sauce
¼ cup soy sauce
In a baking dish, combine the chicken and 1 cup of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 11/2 hours or up to 4 hours, turning occasionally. The longer the chicken marinates, the hotter it becomes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the chicken in a greased baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, basting twice with the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade. When done, the juices will run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife.
Prepare a dipping sauce by combining the tamarind-apricot sauce with the soy sauce. Serve the chicken hot or at room temperature, with the dipping sauce.
Boneless Buffalo Wings
3 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk
3 tablespoons hot sauce, divided
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, divided
2 pounds chicken tenders
6 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 cups carrot sticks
2 cups celery sticks
Whisk buttermilk, 2 tablespoons hot sauce and 2 tablespoons vinegar in a large bowl until combined. Add chicken; toss to coat. Transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk flour and cornmeal in a shallow dish. Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon hot sauce and 1 tablespoon vinegar in a small bowl; set aside. Remove the chicken from the marinade and roll in the flour mixture until evenly coated. (Discard remaining marinade and flour mixture.) Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with cayenne. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken, placing each piece in a little oil. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter.
Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and chicken, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer to the platter. Drizzle the chicken with the reserved hot sauce mixture.
Serve with carrots, celery and Spicy Blue Cheese Wing Dip.
Spicy Blue Cheese Wing Dip
2/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whisk sour cream, blue cheese, vinegar and cayenne in a small bowl. This can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, if making ahead.