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Stupid Super Bowl Sides

January 30, 2014

There are some things that I’m happy to leave to the experts.

Espresso is one of them. Damn, that stuff is hard to make well at home. First, the beans have a shelf life. So if you have to manage your throughput and make sure not to stockpile (which honestly is very hard for someone like me who is prone to hoarding). Then you need an amazing grinder and to keep it immaculately clean. Plus you need a pre-heated machine head that’s capable of producing a consistent temperature so that when water is pushed through at a high enough pressure, the oils in the beans emulsify into a gorgeous crema.

I’d rather drive fifteen minutes out of my way and plonk three bucks down on the counter every time I fancy a shot of aromatic and soul inspiring espresso than invest thousands of dollars in equipment to try and make something passable at home.

Pizza and chicken wings fall into this category too. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on a Buffalo flavored Super Bowl.

Listen to me now.

For all that is good and holy, do not order chicken wings for delivery. Don’t get them to go. Like espresso and pizza, there are some things that just need to be consumed in the immediate moments after they are made.

Maybe I’ll make an exception for pizza, just because there are methods for reheating it well. And I could even accept the argument that warm, steamed-in-the-box, limp pizza is better than no pizza at all.

But I will not be so lenient on wings.

However, I have no interest in attempting wings at home either. Sure, some people may have some success on the grill or under the broiler, but real wings are fried, dammit. And for deep fat frying, you need a good rig so that your fryables don’t bring down the temperature of your oil.

Getting a crisp exterior on a wing while keeping the inside juicy and moist (while also making sure it’s fully cooked) is no easy feat. In fact, given how few examples of such wings I’ve sampled in my lifetime, I would say it’s near impossible.

So if you aren’t going out to a bar or restaurant to watch the Super Bowl, how do you get a taste of that Buffalo goodness? You keep the sauce, but abandon the wing.

The sauce is fairly simple. You try your best to emulsify Frank’s Red Hot in melted butter. Just know that when you heat the Frank’s it loses its potency. So don’t cook it too long. A splash of vinegar brightens it up. Tabasco adds heat. Crystal adds a bit of heat but also a burst of vinegar. Both of these can be used strategically, but Frank’s has to be the dominant voice. Taste it as you go, and correct as needed.

This year I’m putting Buffalo sauce on frozen tater tots.

You know why? They’re easy and they are delicious. Frozen tater tots are totally better than frozen French fries. One has always been frozen from the get go. The other is a shortcut for a much better option. Really, there is no choice between the two when optimizing for taste and convenience at home. Plus, the nooks and crannies of the tater tot are an awesome vehicle for delivering the Buffalo sauce to your pie hole.

But I’m not stopping there. I’m going to make my own blue cheese dressing. This is a first for me. I found a recipe that doesn’t call for any mayonnaise, so I decided to give it a go. It actually came from the good folks at Jasper Hill, and while they want me to be using their magnificent cheese for this purpose, I’m going with a lesser specimen. Mostly because my taste buds will be firebombed with hot sauce and dulled by beer, so I know it will be lost on me. Still, that doesn’t mean I want to be chasing my tots with industrially produced mayo or some jarred sauce filled with junk.

Like most recipes this one calls for buttermilk to thin out the dressing a bit. Let me tell you though, it’s hard to find buttermilk that’s not made with gums and thickeners. Much like cream, manufacturers seem to be able to mislabel their junk with impunity. It’s infuriating. After calling around, I finally have a line on something decent. Bless my stars.

For shits and giggles I’m also trying my hand at making a Frank’s Red Hot powder for sprinkling on top of buttered popcorn. I have no idea how it will work out. But for now I have a couple of dinner plates that have been doused with the stuff. They are sitting out on the counter slowly dehydrating. I plan to scrape what’s left into some kind of receptacle and use that on my football snack.

Depending on how much blue cheese dressing I make, I may also be inspired to pick up a bag of those Buffalo Chicken flavored pretzels. It’s been a while, but those things were a great use of food chemistry. If food science can make a pretzel taste “juicy” how bad can it be?

Of course, the star of the show will be the hoagie or hoagies that I bring in from Hoagie Haven. I just learned that Young Master Fussy will be watching the game with me for the first time, so I’ll make sure that he has his deep fried macaroni and cheese bites.

Man, I love this game.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    January 30, 2014 10:43 am

    Mr. Fussy: Is it a bad thing to store your coffee in the freezer? I have heard pros and cons, but still not sure if it’s okay to do.

    Enjoy the game, and your food.

  2. January 30, 2014 11:16 am

    I think it is time for you to try the twice-fried Popeye’s (once by them, a second time by you at home) as developed by the guy from Mission Chinese and tested on Serious Eats: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/01/the-best-way-to-eat-popeyes-fried-chicken-extra-fried.html

    Also, I hope there is wax paper under that Frank’s Red Hot that is dehydrating on your counter. And I hope there’s something cover it to keep out airborne grease, dust and other contaminants. Home dehydrators are cheap and have multiple uses (like drying spices, fruits and vegetables). Something you might want to check out…

  3. January 30, 2014 2:07 pm

    Stupid question: why not just add some Franks to the butter you are putting on the popcorn?

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