Not sure where to start to prepare for the Super Bowl? Below, James Briscione weighs in on the do’s and don’ts, and offers a few recipes for that perennial game-day classic, chicken wings.
In addition to being a chef instructor of the Jets Cooking School and a series of tailgate and game-day cooking classes, Briscione is director of culinary development at the Institute of Culinary Education.
Tips From James Briscione
When professional chefs prep for a big event, they may start cooking two to three days in advance. Chefs know what items hold up well and which need to be prepared at the last minute. There are lots of Super Bowl essentials that benefit from sitting in the fridge for a day or two before serving. Dips, desserts, and crudité are great for sitting in the fridge overnight. So go ahead and knock out half of your food preparations on Friday or Saturday, making game day far less stressful.
Look at all the dishes you are serving and do as much ahead as possible, even if that means just chopping and measuring ingredients, all of which make the actual cooking a lot easier.
Mix It Up
No restaurant serves a menu cooked with just one heat source, so your Super Bowl menu shouldn’t be set up that way either. Serve some dishes that get baked or broiled, so that some are heated from the stovetop and some that are room temperature or cold. You don’t want to run out of oven space before halftime.
Keep It Simple
Super Bowl is a time to have fun with friends. This is not the time to try to impress everyone with your souffle skills. Don’t plan on any dishes that require lots of attention during cooking or that have be served piping hot.
Plan on dishes will long unattended cook times, like soups, stews, braises, or chili. Otherwise, you might be the only one who doesn’t get to see the big play, because you’re stuck in the kitchen.
Also, you don’t want to be jumping up all the time to check on the temperature of the food or dashing off to reheat a dish. Aim for dishes that are just as good at room temperature as they are hot, like grilled or roasted meats, dips, (some) soups, stews, and braises.
Making Perfect Chicken Wings
All wings need some form of seasoning before cooking. Brines and dry rubs are the best bets as they can help the wings stay juicy during cooking and add lots of flavor. Before cooking the wings—whether you fry, grill, or bake—make sure to dry them thoroughly after dry rub, brine or marinating.
3 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup Tabasco Pepper Sauce
4 cloves garlic
4 branches fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
2 pounds chicken wings
Combine the water, sugar, and salt in bowl and whisk until dissolved. Add the Tabasco, garlic, thyme, and chicken wings. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight, up to 48 hours.
2 cloves garlic, grated or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 pounds chicken wings
Combine the garlic, lime zest, ancho, oregano, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken wings to the toss to coat.
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups Miller beer
Whisk together the eggs, flour, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl. Set the mixture aside until ready to fry.
When the wings are ready, Gently stir the beer into the flour mixture and mix with a spoon until just smooth (a few lumps are OK).
Pat the seasoned wings dry and add them to the bowl with the batter. Remove the wings the bowl and add to the oil one at a time and fry (350 F) until golden brown. The wings should cook 6–8 minutes or until a thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 F. Drain briefly on a rack or paper towels and toss with sauce.
6 tablespoons hot sauce (Louisiana, Frank’s, or Crystal)
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 dash black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat until the butter is completely melted. Stir occasionally.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
15 ounces can tomato puree
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
cayenne pepper, to taste
Sweat the garlic in olive oil in a sauce pot. When the garlic begins to smell sweet, and before it browns, add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, water, salt, paprika, and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook 15 minutes or until thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste, puree in a blender if desired.