Sunday Cooking — Super Bowl Nosh

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I hate watching football. But I love to eat and I love really good food.  So, because of that, I like the idea of Super Bowl Sunday, one of the truly big food events of the year. It’s like a testosterone-fueled Thanksgiving but without the good china, the major expectations, and the family baggage. During a Super Bowl do, I imagine flinging things into a huddle of Visigoths all focused on the TV, then standing back and watching with satisfaction as they roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth and generally have a really good time.

One problem is that ‘traditional’ Super Bowl food is swimming in grease, preservatives, sodium and over-processed (pardon me) crap that puts your resident caveman’s general health in jeopardy. Odd that sports should be so bad for you.

The following is a heart-healthier spread that will give you enough leftovers to last the rest of the week and give your collection of Visigoths something to really sink their teeth into.

First: Meat and plenty of it.  But no preservative-laden cold cuts.  Instead, a couple of roasted chickens with plenty of condiments – chutneys, mustards, horseradish and barbeque sauce –for slathering onto some of Doug Rae’s bread – rye, bagette, or that great big loaf that looks like a big raku-baked boule.  Also, a couple of eye rounds or bottom rounds of beef slow-simmered a la Silver Palate Good Times cookbook’s ‘Comforting Shredded Beef’ recipe.  Do the softly simmered onions, too. They’ll love you for it and you can make the BEST Philly cheese steaks or French dips with them.

If I were actually doing a Super Bowl party – and we’re so not; my resident cavemen is not into spectator sports either — I’d smoke some goose breast or some other bit of critter he had clubbed and drug home to the freezer. Sliced thin later in the evening with a little cranberry chutney in front of the fire along with a nice bottle of red, (like Home Grown from Joe Dolce at Imperial Hotel), it’s a superb finish to the weekend whether you’re into the actual game or not.

Next, the usually greasy-finger stuff. But instead of deep-fried potatoes, onion rings, batter-coated mushrooms and eggplant, try oven-fried: sweet potatoes, garlic potatoes, zuke strips, onion rings, and veg slices. There’s a batch of recipes at the link below.

http://www.cooking.com/Recipes-and-More/Feature.aspx?ty=a&id=1038

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56575

http://greenlitebites.com/2008/06/29/oven-fried-food-fest/

Dips: Tzitziki (cucumber/yogurt dip), which is so easy. Drain plain yogurt until it’s the consistency of sour cream then add white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, dill, some powdered garlic and lots of small-diced cucumber. Hummus with roasted red pepper from a jar, chipotle and lime. Artichoke and spinach dip at the link below. (http://www.wholeliving.com/portal/site/bs/menuitem.5b80dd00cd5b405c713a64103373a0a0/?vgnextoid=f0c6f385b4154110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default)

Things in bowls to grab between downs – almonds, olives stuffed with garlic or dried tomatoes, those little multi-colored peppers in the grocery stores right now that are great quick-fried in olive oil with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime. Terrific finger food and all good for you.

And finally, something sweet. A big fat carrot cake, something one nephew once declared to be his favorite vegetable. The recipe in Silver Palate calls for veg oil instead of butter (use canola). I use low-fat Neufchatel cheese for the icing, cut the recommended sugar by 1/3  (the pineapple makes it plenty sweet) and use half white flour, half whole wheat. Better for you, absolutely delicious and it keeps moist for days.

This may all seem like work, but unlike Thanksgiving, there’s virtually no pressure – the place doesn’t really need to be cleaned, you can cook in fits a starts if you want and even while they’re watching the game. You don’t have to set the table let alone iron the tablecloth. There’s no seating arrangement to plan, no family feuds to mediate. It’s all gravy (so to speak) and the guys will love you for it, which is like money in the bank when you need a hand with something that requires testosterone like sacking the compost or pillaging Pottery Barn.

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