How to add the perfect bit of spice to Super Bowl party

January 21, 1998|By Rob Kasper

IT IS DIFFICULT AND almost un-American not to eat too much on Super Bowl Sunday.

A few years ago, for instance, I tried to treat the Super Bowl as just another televised football game. I planned to sit in our family room with my kids and a few of their friends, and simply watch the game. We wouldn't eat anything until half time. Then our family would go to the kitchen, sit down and dine.

Immediately, the kids objected. It didn't feel right, they said, to watch a Super Bowl without snacks.

So I rushed out to a 7-Eleven and bought an armful of chips, dip and soda. Upon my return I joined a roomful of guys who sipped and dipped and chewed as we watched football. By half time we had stuffed our bellies with junk food. There seemed to be little reason to eat any more or watch any more football.

Yet we did both. After the friends of the kids left, our family gathered around the kitchen table and ate supper as the television, with the sound turned down, flickered in the distance. By the end of the day, I felt bloated and lifeless. But I also felt like I was in the American mainstream because I had given a Super Bowl snack party.

It turns out that Super Bowl Sunday is, according to the American Snack Food Association, the biggest snack-eating day of the year. Last year on the big day, 10.8 million pounds of potato chips, 8.1 million pounds of tortilla chips, 4.2 million pounds of pretzels, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn and 2.5 million pounds of snack nuts were scarfed down. When I saw these statistics in a press release issued by the makers of Herr's potato chips, I realized the kids had been right. It is abnormal to watch a Super Bowl without wolfing down a salty snack.

Lately I have noticed that some businesses have been busy trying to appeal to Super Bowl fans who want to eat, but not cook, on game day. About 1,100 Boston Market food stores scattered around America, for instance, are promoting take-home, heat and serve dishes as the way to feed a Super Bowl party crowd.

Meanwhile, I heard about a new Baltimore restaurant that is trying to attract what the restaurant proprietor Scott Sunshine described as "the politically correct football fan." On Sunday, his establishment, the Neon Moon Restaurant & Bar, a 63-seat operation in the 2500 block of Fait Avenue in Canton, is serving a Super Bowl menu composed of low-fat offerings. According to Sunshine, this "anti-Super Bowl menu will be the opposite of dogs, burgers and junk food." The popcorn, he said, will be air-popped, with no butter or salt. The meat dish will be low-fat venison, he said. And for fans who are vegetarians and imbibers, the bartender will mix 40 different kinds of martinis with 18 different kinds of olives, Sunshine said. "We're aimed at the football fan who wants to eat lighter -- who doesn't call Domino's at half time."

On Super Bowl Sunday I now try to avoid chips and eat chicken wings made with a recipe I call "Buffalo meets Baltimore." The Buffalo refers to the New York state community noted for the fiery chicken wings served in its eateries.

Several years ago, my wife found a recipe for Buffalo-style wings in "The Complete Book of Chicken Wings" by Joie Warner (Hearst Books, 1985, $7). The book said the secret ingredient in the dipping sauce was Durkee Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce, an ingredient we had trouble finding in Baltimore. Over the years we have used a variety of hot sauces with good success.

We also added a new ingredient, seafood seasoning sold by Obrycki's restaurant in East Baltimore. Like most residents of Baltimore, we started sprinkling seafood seasoning on steamed crabs, but soon couldn't resist sprinkling it on anything edible, including chicken wings.

This is a great dish for Super Bowl Sunday, a day of excess, because it seems like a snack and because you always end up eating too much of it.

Buffalo meets Baltimore

Serves 4 as main dish

2 1/2 pounds wings trimmed Buffalo style (see below)

1/4 cup butter

3-5 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons, crab seasoning (Obrycki's)

olive oil

To make dipping sauce, slowly melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the hot sauce, (3 tablespoons for mild, 4 for medium, more for hot.) Add the vinegar. Remove from heat.

To make wings, first cut off the tip of the wing, and slice the remaining wing into two pieces, this is Buffalo-style trim. Brush both sides of wings with olive oil, or put wings in large bowl and mix them with oil with your hands. Place oiled wings on a large rimmed, baking sheet and sprinkle top side of wings with about half of crab seasoning.

Put wings in oven, about 3 inches from broiler. Broil at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes, until the top of wings are browned. Remove from oven, drain off liquids from baking sheet. Flip wings, sprinkling their new top sides with remaining crab seasoning. Broil until brown, another 10-15 minutes. Serve with hot, dipping sauce.

Required side dish is celery sticks and carrots that have beensoaked in ice water and are dipped in a blue cheese dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing

Serves 4

2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

Place ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. Chill.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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