The “Big Game” is just around the corner, and in an effort to avoid a lawsuit from Roger Goodell, and the NFL, here is the official disclaimer that this is not The Officially Licensed Super Bowl Menu… though it should be. This is simply a smorgasbord of awesome, offered through a combination of trial and error, and past attendance of Super Bowl parties that have hosted between 10 and 1,000 guests. Here are ten foods you gotta have for your Super Bowl throw down!
10. Vegetable Platter
Getting this stuff out of the way–it’s as obligatory as the overblown, and always overrated, Halftime Show–it serves as a necessity for your Super Bowl crowd, because you want to offer a little something for everyone. Sure, it’s easy to hit the grocery store, and go for the pre-made veggie tray with the dip in the center. That’ll work. If you want to go next level, however, and probably save a few bucks, do your own mix of vegetables. This will allow for more celery and carrots–the best friends of #7 on this list–as well as other crispy veggies like Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced zucchini strips and the like. And for those who want to straddle the fence of good and bad, these vegetables can easily be combined with the next item on the list. Side note: if you’re gonna do your own thing, prep it the night before.
9. Cheesy Ro*Tel Dip
“What in the heck is Ro*Tel!?” you ask? It’s always a surprise to learn of the masses who are still outside the know. Ro*Tel is a canned concoction of tomatoes and green chilies, and sure, if you’re pure hipster and still a fan of the NFL, or simply can’t do the canned thing, you’re welcome to chop your own version of the concoction. Just understand it won’t compare to the canned goodness. And it’s an exercise in futility, because you’re going to take that can of Ro*Tel and dump it into a Crockpot with an entire block of Velveeta pasteurized cheese product (cut into cubes, of course.) Those who are really bold will want to saute some burger with taco seasoning, and add it to the dip. It’s a must serve at any Super Bowl gathering based on versatility. It can be used for dipping any food!
8. A Truck Load of Chips
What’s dip without chips? That said, it’s better to have dips that can be used as sauces over chips with nothing to dip them in. Chili can be included in this mix. Chili without chips? OK. Chips without chili? Nope. Still, there may be some kids running around your soiree, so chips are sure-to-please for not-yet-fully-formed humans. And when it comes to dips, be it Cheesy Ro*Tel, or an award winning Seven-Layer or Guacamole, chips become such a wonderful extension of that culinary expression. Corn chips, potato chips, veggie chips: all varieties are welcome. Doritos would like us all to believe that no Super Bowl party is any kind of party without a variety of the Frito-Lay offerings, and they’re probably onto something. Several bags–or a really sweet, Babylonian tower display–of chips will suffice.
7. Wings, Wings, Wings!
We won’t get into the debate of chicken wings vs. boneless chicken wings (because the boneless are chopped breast meat, right?). Instead, let us all get straight to the discussion of needing chicken in the form of finger foods. There are so many flavors offered for wings these days, thanks to entities like Buffalo Wild Wings, but here’s the deal: wings are simple to do at home. Deep fry those little suckers, then toss them in a bowl of your favorite hot sauce, wing sauce or homemade concoction. Have a little ranch, and blue cheese available for dippin’ and you’ve got magic. The same can be said for the boneless variety. And if you want the best of the best, fry ’em up in peanut oil. Well worth the added expense.
6. Thin Crust Pizza
Pizzas are a must at any Super Bowl party. A lot of people opt for ordering several pizzas from a nearby parlor, and that’s fine and dandy, but the key to sampling all foods available at a party is to offer thin crust pizzas. Thick crusts, or God forbid, Pizza Hut pan pizzas, will send any guest into a food coma before the fourth quarter. If there’s anything you want to avoid–based on the presumed excitement of the fourth quarter–it’s a food coma. Thin crust pizzas will also help stretch the party budget, and they’ll be easier for people to bring if it’s pot luck style. Even options like Totino’s take and bake can be jazzed up. Buy the cheese, then add your own toppings and a couple minutes to the cooking time. This allows for more options for the vegetarian crowd.
5. Piglets In a Blanket
Cancel the game if these don’t show up on a Super Bowl platter. Seriously. What are piglets in a blanket? Simply put, a junior version of pigs in a blanket. Instead of hot dogs, you get the Lil’ Smokey sausages, and some of those sinfully delicious, and crack-cocainesque-addictive take-and-bake crescent rolls. The rolls can be sliced to better fit and wrap the sausage. Bake them to completion. These things will go like wildfire. They’re single bite snacks–more appropriately classified as vittles–and depending on attendance, it’s safe to assume that everyone who eats meat will have at least 2-4 of these. Some may scavenge a baker’s dozen if they are still sitting around at second half kickoff. They’re another option that be dipped in #9, or combined with #10 for a lessening of Super Bowl debauchery guilt.
4. Rolos and Ritz
There aren’t many dessert options on this list. When it comes to a Super Bowl party, desserts are akin to the game going to overtime. If it does… Awesome! If not, the scheduled 60 minutes is more than enough. Rolos and Ritz will be a more than adequate dessert option for any party. They are quite easy to make, they are sweet, salty and sure to please, so be sure you have a small army of them available. Basically, you take a Rolo candy piece, put it between two Ritz crackers–or Hi-Ho, or other brand–and warm the sandwich until the Rolo becomes “melty.” At that point, carefully squeeze the two crackers together to squish the chocolate and caramel toward the edges. If you wanna go next level, drizzle them with melted chocolate, or completely coat them, then refrigerate (on wax paper, dudes.)
3. Empanadas (Or Other Pocketed Foods)
For anyone possessing the culinary skill to build empanadas, please accept this virtual fist bump. These can serve as a menu centerpiece for any large gathering, and are rather perfect for Super Bowl parties. For those who wouldn’t have the first clue as home-making them, there is likely a local joint that offers them, and there are several places you can buy them online and have them shipped for baking in your oven. Ultimately, empanadas are the Spanish and Portuguese version of doner kebab, when served in pita bread… except empanadas are completely sealed pastries, and less messy. Bottom line, every Super Bowl party needs some kind of meat stuffed in some kind of bread, then baked or fried. Make that happen, you’ll achieve legendary status.
2. Legitimate BBQ
People see the word barbecue–or BBQ–and they immediately think of a hot grill, with meats and vegetables sizzling toward perfection. These people are misinformed. Meat cooking over an open fire, or direct heat on a grill is a “grilled” food, not a BBQ’d food. True BBQ relies on indirect heat and smoke in order to complete the cooking process. Combining #3 and #2 might score you a restaurant deal. E.g. Pulled pork stuffed empanadas. You’ll shut it down. Records could be broken during the game, and people will still leave the TV in order to congregate at the food station. The most popular BBQ offerings are the Trinity: pork spare ribs; beef brisket; pulled pork. They are the mark of any true pit master. It is worth noting: good BBQ is a time-honored, time-consuming process… plan ahead!
Brass tacks. If there were no food at a Super Bowl party, but an impressive selection of beer? In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “We gon’ be alright.” There are days to drink wine, and days that warrant cocktails, but when engaging with a sporting event that is uniquely American, it would only make sense to drink American beer. In the 21st century, it is so easy to take advantage of all the wonderful, American microbreweries that have sprouted up in the nooks and crannies of the United States. And many of these microbreweries have avoided selling to InBev… hear that, Budweiser? Anheuser Busch? Simply put, there is not a food on this list that isn’t made better with an ice cold brew. Party planners, put the most knowledgeable guests on the “bring the beer” team.