It's the countdown to the biggest football game of the season; time to take out that favorite jersey and stock up on the chips and beer.
But if you're a Super Bowl party host who wants to add some more flavor to the table - and wow your San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens fanatic friends - then culinary pros say go beyond the bottle and the bag.
"You have to have a game plan and a nice variety of food from burgers to seafood and poultry so people don't just see a bag of chips," said Adam Fleischman.
Fleischman is the mastermind behind Umami Burger and its other tasty incarnations throughout Southern California, including a soon-to-open Umami Burbank at 4300 Riverside Drive, formerly occupied by the legendary Papoo's Hot Dog Show.
"And it's always good to have a good beginning, middle and end," Fleischman said. "You should plan it like a real meal."
Adam Gertler, host of the online Cooking Channel show "Food Bites" whose rise to foodie fame began as a runner-up on season four of "The Next Food Network Star," said chicken wings are a must for the Super Bowl and a great starter to any game day party.
"If wings aren't the first thing that come to mind when thinking of Super Bowl food then I don't know what is," he said.
For Gertler, his Blackened Hot Wings have always been a winner.
"These wings are one of my all time favorite dishes to make," he said. "Period.
Gertler, who will be rooting for the Ravens on Sunday, prepared his famous wings on his audition tape for "The Next Food Network Star" and ended up serving them during the final challenge on the show set in Las Vegas.
"They were such a hit with the Vegas chefs who were judging the competition, they couldn't kick me off the show and had to take me to the last round," Gertler said of his season four stint.
The wings can be smoked ahead of time and finished on the grill or under a broiler. And if the oil is already out, "the wings finish quickly and crisply in a fryer as well," he said.
Then going buffet-style for the main course is a great way to please everyone's palate, experts say.
For instance, Jeff Zuckerman of PizzaRev said "a fully custom, crafted pizza experience" is how the pizzeria chain won over its customers.
The pizzerria's three locations give customers the option of two types of crusts, six sauces and more than two dozen toppings.
The key is fresh ingredients, particularly if preparing homemade pizza dough, Zuckerman said.
"When you make it fresh, which is best, do it the day before so it can proof for a whole day," he said of the dough fermentation process.
Super Bowl party hosts can also simplify and get store-bought pitas or pizza dough, lay out sauces and toppings and let guests go crazy creative with football-shaped pies and more.
After a few minutes in the oven, the pizzas will be a touchdown for all.
"Kids love it because some - including adults - are picky," Zuckerman said of allowing people to create their own pizzas.
If an interactive pizza party isn't what you have in mind, Zuckerman says to stop by PizzaRev where on Sunday the restaurant will be offering customers who order three pizzas a fourth one for free.
To wash it all down, downtown Los Angeles' Blue Cow Kitchen head bartender Jamie Barker offers up a twist on the regular cold brew with the restaurant's popular Allagash Beer Cocktail. Using Allagash Curieux, a bourbon barrel aged strong ale, Barker adds a kick with Canadian Spicebox Whisky, Gran Classico and apple juice.
Now while Fleischman, who grew up in Maryland and owns Umami Union in San Francisco, won't predict a Super Bowl game winner but with these tasty tips said he bets any homecook can throw a great party.
"It's all about great food," Fleischman said. "That's the name of the game."
Adam Gertler's "Food Bites" can be seen at youtube.com/cookingchannel
Basic Baltimore Crab Cake Burger
By Adam Fleischman of Umami Restaurant Group
- 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce
- 1 cup crushed saltine crackers or panko breadcrumbs
Mix all ingredients together and form into 5-ounce patties.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet.
Add crab cake patties and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip cakes and transfer them to preheated oven at about 400 degrees.
Bake until golden and cooked through, then sandwich between two buns.
Anchor Steam Cheese Fondue
By Adam Fleischman of Umami Restaurant Group
- 12 ounces of Anchor Steam beer (1 bottle)
- 6 cups of gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 clove of garlic
- Optional: Shallots, thyme, hot sauce
Combine shredded gruyere cheese with chopped garlic and optional seasonings.
Pour beer into a fondue pot and bring to a slow simmer over medium-low heat.
Gradually stir in the cheese mixture into the beer until melted and smoothly blended.
Add to a burger or use as a fondue dip for sausage.
Blackened Hot Wings with Adam Gertler's Blue Cheese Dressing
By Adam Gertler of "Food Bites"
- 12 whole jumbo chicken wings
- 1 cup of your favorite barbecue rub (or see recipe)
- 2 tsp chipotle powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup garlic mayo (see recipe or use 1 cup store bought mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 minced garlic clove)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- tsp of your favorite hot sauce
- tsp kosher salt
- tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped scallions
- 2 ounces of crumbled Danish blue cheese
Rub and smoke wings:
Rinse and dry thoroughly wings. Combine rub with cayenne, chipotle, and salt to make spicy rub. Place spicy rub in bowl and toss wings one at a time in rub to coat evenly, place on wire rack. Smoke wings for 1 hour at 225-250 degrees (see smoking instructions). This can be done up to two days before serving.
Prepare Blue Cheese Dressing:
In a food processor, process or whisk by hand all remaining ingredients except blue cheese. When smooth add blue cheese and pulse a few times to combine but leave some chunks.
Wings should be fully cooked after smoking. The joints should move easily and much of the skin should be rendered down. If necessary, cook wings for 5-10 minutes more in a 400 degree oven. On an outdoor grill over high heat, grill wings on both sides so that the rub blackens slightly. There should be three nice black grill marks on each wing. If no grill is available, use the broiler to char wings slightly.
Serve immediately with Adam's Blue Cheese Dressing and carrot and/or celery sticks.
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup light olive oil, canola oil or a blend
In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients except olive oil; blend on medium speed until smooth. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until emulsified; you will hear a "slapping" sound from the blender or food processor when this starts to occur. Blend until all oil is incorporated; consistency should be that of a heavy mayonnaise.
- 1/2 cup fine sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp Hungarian paprika
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp granulated garlic
- 2.5 tbsp granulated onion
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 3/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 1 1/2 tsp dried mustard (recommended: Coleman's)
Combine all ingredients, taking care to blend until without lumps, and conserve in an airtight container for use whenever needed. It will keep up to one year.
How to Smoke It by Adam Gertler
Weber Kettle Grill Method:
Place 35 – 40 pieces of hot charcoal on one side of the grill. On top of the hot coals, place 1 cup hickory chips, soaked in water and wrapped in an aluminum foil pouch with holes poked in the top, to allow the smoke to escape. On the other side of the grill, place a shallow pan half-filled with water, beer, or apple juice, depending on recipe. Close the cover and use an instant-read thermometer placed in the top vent to monitor the internal temperature. When the grill reaches 250 degrees, place item to be smoked on grill over drip pan.
Chef's Note: Take care to maintain your grill temperature between 220 and 250 degrees; if temperature gets too high, close vents to cut off oxygen to the burning coals. Change hickory foil packets every hour while smoking.
When smoked item is nearly finished smoking, and if recipe calls for finishing on a hot grill, create a "hot zone" by removing foil smoking packet and adding 35 – 40 additional hot coals and grill item over your "hot zone."
Stovetop Smoker Method:
Prepare smoker according to manufacturer's instructions, using 1 cup soaked hickory wood chips or sawdust. Smoke on lowest available temperature, taking care to make sure that wood is constantly smoldering. When smoked item is nearly finished smoking, and if recipe calls for finishing on a hot grill, heat your grilling surface to high and oil it well.
Easy Hot Wing Sauce
By Adam Gertler of "Food Bites"
- 2 cups of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
- 1 stick of butter
- A squeeze of lemon
- Optional spices
Mix all ingredients and add cayenne or chipotle powder to taste.
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