By Barbara Beltrami
The big game on Feb. 5 is normally one of the most exciting events of the winter season. Bisecting the drab doldrums of January and February, it glues zealous sports fans to their TVs and ignites passionate tempers to not just a few expletives. In a feeding frenzy that alternately consoles and celebrates the vicissitudes of the afternoon’s plays, this annual game between the two best pro football teams evokes and stimulates the most American of appetites.
Although traditional fare is centered largely on some combo of spicy buffalo wings and blue cheese dips and spreads, many spinoffs of those flavors come to mind. There are Sloppy Joe’s, a goopy ground beef and barbecue sauce concoction served conventionally over open hamburger rolls, but just as good over toasted crusty bread.Then there are iceberg lettuce wedges with blue cheese dressing, bacon, cherry tomatoes and red onion. And because the day wouldn’t be complete without Buffalo something, here’s an easy recipe for wings.
YIELD: Serves 8
¼ cup oil
One large onion, chopped
One medium carrot, peeled and diced
One medium green bell pepper, washed, seeded and diced
2 pounds lean ground beef
Two garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup ketchup
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons A-1 sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
8 hamburger buns or 16 slices lightly toasted crusty bread
DIRECTIONS: In a large skillet, heat the oil for 30 seconds. Add the onion, carrot, and green pepper and sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are opaque and pepper starts to turn color, about 5 minutes. Crumble the ground beef and spread around the skillet; cook, stirring frequently with vegetables, until meat is browned. Add garlic, ketchup, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, A-1 sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar.
Cook over low-medium heat until vegetables are tender and liquid is evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and seasoning. Serve hot over open buns or bread slices with cole slaw and french fries.
Iceberg Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing
YIELD: Serves 8 to 12
One head iceberg lettuce, washed, drained and trimmed
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup light cream or half-and-half
½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 to 6 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Thin slices red onion, separated into rings
DIRECTIONS: Slice the lettuce into as many wedges as you desire. Combine the mayonnaise, cream, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, blue cheese and seasoning. With a wire whisk, beat ingredients for 30 seconds. Arrange wedges on a platter. Pour dressing sparingly, and serve remaining dressing in a small bowl to be passed around. (It can also be used as a dipping sauce for buffalo wings in recipe below). Sprinkle bacon, tomato quarters and onion rings over wedges.
Easy Buffalo Wings
YIELD: Serves 6 to 8
12 to 16 chicken wings
4 ounces unsalted butter
One large garlic clove, minced
¼ cup Frank’s or Tabasco hot sauce
Salt, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 F. Wash and dry wings. With a knife or poultry shears, separate the wings at the joint. Cut off wing tips and discard or save for another use (such as soup stock). Melt butter with garlic. In a large bowl, combine mixture with hot sauce and salt. Add wings and toss to coat. Place wings in shallow baking pan and drizzle with remaining sauce. Roast 10 minutes on each side, basting often, or until golden brown. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.