On Cooking Southern: Brew Up A SUPER Bowl Party With These Eats

SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK
Triflin’: Wasting everybody’s time by not living up to innate potential due to lack of focus, inattention to detail, or just plain rudeness toward the greater good of the Order… like some teams and at least one relative in every family.


Are we ready for some more football? If I know my neighbors here in the North Mississippi Hills country, the answer is a resounding “ALWAYS.”

Super Bowl LI, the game of the year, is about to commence in Houston, Texas. The New England Patriots, in their 9th SB appearance, will face off against the Atlanta Falcons, who are making their second SB appearance. The Falcons’ 9-year quarterback Matt Ryan will be crafting field moves against 15-year veteran Tom Brady in a matchup that promises to give the masses what we want: an on-field duel between North and South.

But we all know that the game itself is just part of the event. It’s an excuse for a PARTY fluffed up with before, during and after activities, including:

  • Pre-game entertainment culminating with a rendition of America the Beautiful, sung by Hamilton stars Phillipa Soo and Renée Elise,
  • The national anthem sung by country music superstar Luke Bryan,
  • What promises to be a mind-bending halftime extravaganza led by Lady Gaga in her second SB appearance,
  • $5.02 million (EACH) 30-second commercials, including one LIVE commercial.

And let’s not overlook the requisite SB food: Chili. Tortilla soup. Pizza and pizza dip. Jalapeño poppers. Buffalo chicken hot wings.

Yum. Every American in the country can agree that these are perennial Super Bowl favorites.

But there’s nothing unconstitutional about stirring up something a little different this year. It’s time for Hotty Toddy Nation partiers to plan and execute a Super Bowl party with a craft beer theme.

Beer, you ask? Absolutely, I say. Good beer has its own elegance, like fine wine. Popular suds commercials underwrite most of the Super Bowl flamboyance each year. And how appropriate will it be to support the brew theme in a year when aficionados are calling for a new national Monday work holiday called Super Bowl Monday (the hangover day).

Besides, we Mississippians would do well to jump on the hops wagon and promote perhaps the most active arena of creativity in modern American food and drink culture, that of craft beer brewing.

I, for one, am all about nurturing the business environment supporting craft beer breweries in the last state to do away with Prohibition (1966) in a town that only abolished an archaic law against selling cold beer in 2013.

So this Super Bowl Sunday, my crowd will be sipping our favorite Ghost River, Yalobusha and Abita beers during the game, snacking on Brew Stew and Beer Bread. We’ll be rooting for a fully inflated game and praying that Atlanta’s Falcons soar like a raptor instead of going up in flames…. “We ain’t forgot” what New England did the last time Tom and those d***Yankees met a Southern team in Houston (2004, at Super Bowl XXXVIII, Patriots versus Panthers). Poor ol’ Panthers…. That game was painful, but it wasn’t quite like the original burning of Atlanta.

And here’s a final piece of brew advice: Stay away from that Sam Adams character. He’s not from around here.

HOTLANTA SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP
It’s easy enough to purchase ready-made cold spinach and artichoke dip. But this recipe is heartier and more gratifying on a cold February day. Leftovers freeze well.

4 to 4-1/2 c whole milk
1 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne, or more, to taste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 c fine-chopped yellow onion
1-2 T butter
2 T all-purpose flour
4 T butter
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
Two 14-oz cans quartered artichoke hearts
3 (9-oz) pkgs of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice
1 brick cream cheese
1-1/2 c Monterey jack or three-cheese Mexican blend for topping

Heat milk and spices in 4-qt saucepan on medium heat to a simmer. While milk is heating, sauté onion in T butter until transparent. Stir into milk mixture and bring back to a low simmer. Melt 4 T butter in onion saucepan, whisk in the flour until smooth. Continue whisking on low heat until flour and butter mixture begins to thicken and turn paper bag brown (it’s a roux). Pour roux into the simmering milk mixture, stirring to blend. Continue stirring until sauce thickens.

Add three cheeses to sauce, stirring with wooden spoon until completely melted and blended. Remove from heat as soon as the cheese has melted. Stir in the mayo, lemon juice and cream cheese until blended. Cool 15 minutes.

Drain artichokes and squeeze out excess water. Chop and set aside. Squeeze water out of thawed spinach. Place in sieve and squeeze out more. Combine drained spinach and artichokes, breaking up the lumps of squeezed spinach. Stir the spinach and artichokes into cheese sauce in a large nonreactive bowl. Pour into 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top with grated cheese. Bake casserole in preheated oven set at 350° about 35-45 minutes, until bubbly throughout. Serve hot with tostada chips, pita chips, or crusty beer bread.

CHEESE AND HONEY TRAY
If you really love your super bowl game day crowd, treat them to the ultimate in casual elegance by presenting a tray of assorted soft cheeses, honey, nuts, and fruit. Honeys have varying flavors, depending on the source of the nectar. The lighter honeys pair best with stinky cheeses, and the darker honeys pair well with soft cheeses such as brie. Trust me when I say that a slice of brie drizzled in honey, layered on a slice of ripe pear with a salted almond is about as heavenly as food gets on earth. And the whole shebang tastes wonderful with craft beers.

Assorted cheeses, including brie and camembert
Roasted salted almonds
Fresh whole walnuts
Spanish nut mix
Ripe pears
Sweet seedless grapes
Light honey
Dark honey
Assortment of crackers

BEER BREAD
Experiment with various craft beers, particularly lagers, and choose which version makes the bread more flavorful for your crowd. Feel free to experiment with additions such as chopped olives, diced chilies or pickled chopped jalapeño peppers.

3 c sifted all-purpose flour
1 to 4 T white granulated sugar (more for sweeter, less for savory)
3 T melted butter
12 oz (1-1/2 c) beer (I used Ghost River amber ale)
2 tsp dried minced onion, optional
1/4 c grated sharp cheddar cheese, optional
1 T melted butter
3 T softened butter

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan (I use Crisco when greasing pans for bread).

Resift the pre-sifted, measured flour with the sugar into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the beer until most lumps are gone. Stir in the cooled, melted butter and mix until blended. Stir in the minced onion and grated cheese. Don’t worry about a few lumps.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of melted butter across the top.

Bake on center rack for 45-50 minutes, until toothpick inserted partially into center of top comes out clean, Remove bread from oven to a cooling rack. Spread softened butter evenly across entire top of the hot loaf. After about 5 minutes shake the pan to loosen the bread and turn it out onto a wax paper or parchment-lined rack to cool. I turn mine out on its side for about 10 minutes before turning the loaf upright to complete cooling. Slice ONLY once completely cooled.

BREWSTEW
Choose your stew suds with your guests in mind: The more flavorful the brew, the more robust the stew. Try using stout, Pilsner, or dark ale!

1/4 c olive oil
2 lb stew beef and 2 lb cubed pork (I use packaged cubes of pork loin)
1 large yellow onion, loose-chopped
1 c chopped celery
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 each 12-oz bottle of amber ale (I used Yalobusha Copperhead amber ale)
1 c loose-chopped carrots
2 c loose-chopped sweet potatoes
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
1/4 c mustard (half Grey Poupon, half yellow) dissolved in 1 c warm water

Brown the stew meat in hot olive oil in a large sauté pan. Once browned on all sides, add the onion, celery and garlic. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes, turning the mixture about every 10 minutes until the onions are transparent. Remove lid and sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir in the Worcestershire. Allow the mixture to become very brown with fond at the bottom of the pan (but not burned).

Add the beer, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen the pan drippings. Fold in the carrots, and sweet potatoes. Place tied sprigs of thyme on top of the mixture and cover for about 15 minutes.

Periodically remove lid and fold mixture in pan until the meat and veggies are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove tied thyme. Stir in slurry of mustard dissolved in warm water. Simmer another 10 minutes until sauce thickens (mustard acts as a thickener). Serve hot with beer bread.


Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists, Southern Foodways Alliance and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ website and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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