Sunday, February 8, 2015

Super Bowl Party Food My Way

My husband and I aren't big football fans but, like most Americans, we'll watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and opportunity to socialize with friends. Over the past few years, we've established a traditional Super Bowl party at our house with another couple who, like us, prefer a party with good food, good drink, and not a lot of people.

7-Layer Dip
The Super Bowl is my opportunity to experiment with party food. I do have my "go-to" recipes -- a traditional 7-Layer Dip (refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, minced olives, cheese and green onion) with tortilla chips is basically a requirement -- but I like to change-up my menu every year. This year, I discovered two recipes that went over so well that I think I'll have to make them part of the tradition and serve them again next year.

The first recipe is the Jet Swirl Pizza Appetizers recipe I found on Allrecipes.com. The recipe, as stated on the site, is 90% perfect. The one objection I had was using canned pizza dough (I assume they are referring to Pillsbury pizza dough, which was the only kind I could find in my local grocery store). Call me a foodie snob, but I just couldn't do it. Instead, I made my own fresh pizza dough in my bread machine (I used a 1.5 pound recipe from the book that came with my machine). I coated the dough in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, to keep it from sticking to my hands too much, and sprinkled some corn meal on my pastry mat when I shaped it in the required 10x14" rectangle. (If you make the recipe this way, you don't have to put oil on your baking sheet.) I think the fresh dough, combined with high-quality Boar's Head Genoa salami and pepperoni, and equally good organic cheese, made a huge difference. Don't let the name of the recipe fool you -- you can make a meal out of this pizza roll. It also reheats in the oven beautifully for lunch the next day.

Smokies in Bourbon BBQ SauceThe second recipe is what I call "Smokies in Bourbon BBQ Sauce". It was also inspired by a recipe I found on Allrecipes.com, but based on feedback to that recipe and my personal preferences, I changed it up quite a bit. The beauty of this recipe is that it requires few ingredients, very little prep, and you can keep it warm in a crock pot for the duration of the game.

Based on my experience, this makes more than enough for 4 people, so you can scale the recipe below accordingly. I don't recommend keeping the leftovers, though, because we discovered the sausages taste a bit dried out and "off" after refrigeration and reheating.

Pairing Tip: My beverage of choice for this party was Angry Orchard's Crisp Apple Hard Cider, and I thought its slightly sweet flavor went really well with both the pizza roll and smokies. We also served Sokol Blosser Evolution White.

Smokies in Bourbon BBQ Sauce

16 ounce package of Lit'l Smokies Sausage
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's because I wanted something on the sweet and tangy side)
1/2 cub bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace because that's what my husband was willing to sacrifice from his liquor cabinet. Any decent bourbon will do.)

Drain the liquid from the package of smokies and cook them in a pan, frequently to avoid burning, for about 5 minutes. Removing the liquid will ensure a nice, thick sauce, and dry-cooking the smokies helps firm-up the skins.

Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, barbecue sauce and bourbon in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer about 2 minutes to burn off the alcohol (a nice, subtle bourbon flavor will remain).

Combine everything in a small slow cooker on low heat. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the temperature down to warm. Serve with toothpicks.


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