Whenever I think of Super Bowl Sunday, I think of chili and guacamole and chips. And Ro-Tel cheese dip. And Frito pie.
Because face it, people love to indulge in fatty, crunchy, salty foods they can munch while milling about or standing and watching the game in suspense. And if you make a dish that combines everyone's favorite football snacks, you've got a winning day regardless of who wins the game.
When I was growing up, the go-to football party food was seven-layer dip. Which is basically the same thing as Frito pie — layers of Fritos corn chips, chili, cheese and other toppings.
A few months ago, I flew down South and when I arrived, I met a chef from New York who was essentially serving Frito pie, but calling it "The Walking Taco" — a bunch of toppings dumped into snack-size bags of Fritos and eaten right from the bag.
I loved the name and concept, and immediately thought that it would be a great party food. I liked the idea of offering guests bags of chips and a buffet of toppings (chili, cheeses, vegetables, etc.) to let them assemble their own walking tacos. The medium snack bags are the best bet for this approach.
This make-your-own-bar is dramatic, and is easy on the cook. I like adding pulled chicken to the mix (buy a rotisserie chicken or make your own beer-can chicken and pull it once it is cool). Great homemade chili and guacamole are key, so I am including those recipes here. Otherwise, most of the ingredients are just purchased and put out for guests.
Grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Grated jalapeno-Jack cheese
Grated yellow cheddar
Chopped white onions
TEXAS BOWL OF RED CHILI
This chili can be prepared up to two days ahead, then slowly reheated over low.
Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
12-ounce bottle Lone Star or Corona beer
Two 10-ounce cans chopped tomatoes with chili peppers
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dry oregano leaves
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon New Mexican chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high. Add the sirloin, chuck and onions and cook for 15 minutes, or until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent.
Add the beer, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and simmer for a few minutes, then add the cumin, oregano, garlic, salt, all 3 chili powders, and the cayenne pepper (if using). Stir well, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
If chili is too thick, water or an additional beer may be added. If so, add just a bit at a time or the chili will get too thin.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 210 calories; 50 calories from fat (24 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrate; 25 g protein; 4 g fiber; 1,020 mg sodium.
1-2-3 TOMATILLO SALSA GUACAMOLE
I first made this recipe for a very large event in California. I was daunted by the task of making guacamole for 500 people. But friends at Frontera Foods suggested I try their easy recipe. Well, it was so good that it was the hit of the event. And I couldn't stop eating it. Since I tried this recipe, I've never made guacamole any other way.
Start to finish: 5 minutes
3 to 4 ripe avocados
1 cup Frontera Foods tomatillo salsa
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Cut the avocados in half, scoop out the flesh and combine in a bowl. Mash well. Stir in the tomatillo salsa, then the cilantro. Season with salt.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 170 calories; 130 calories from fat (71 percent of total calories); 15 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 7 g fiber; 210 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a grilling and Southern foods expert and executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market restaurants in New York and Washington, as well as Hill Country Chicken in New York. She is the author of three cookbooks, including "Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned."