The five food groups of a super bowl party

This column first appeared in a newspaper in 2009

When it comes to rules for Super Bowl spreads, I tend to keep them simple.

Rule No. 1: Serve things from each of the five  food groups.

Rule No. 2: Here are the five food groups — beef, pork, poultry, dairy (cheese) and vegetable.

Rule No. 3: How many vegetables? Answer: One small carrot.

Like most people, I agree that we need to take a practical and healthy attitude when it comes to our diets. And, like most people, I have learned that certain vegetables are not only good for you, but they also taste good. I have also learned that I don’t have to have a 4-inch T-bone steak and a baked potato, loaded with butter, at every meal.

But, having said that, I must say that, in my opinion, health concerns should be tossed out the window on Super Bowl Sunday. The way I see it, 30 or 40 professional football players on Sunday will risk serious injury, such as a pulled groin, in order to bring us roughly 30 minutes of football wrapped around approximately 4,392 hours of commercials. The very least we can do, as a grateful nation, is to risk a little high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure for one day.

It’s the right thing to do.

The anchor

Any serious Super Bowl menu, in my opinion, must have an anchor. A dish that all the other dishes can feed off.

Think of your Super Bowl menu anchor as a major airport and the other Super Bowl dishes as smaller airports feeding into the major airport. And for my money, nothing anchors a Super Bowl meal like chili. A pot of chili offers Super Bowl grazers two things that they can’t get enough of: meat and spice. The meat fills the Super Bowl grazer up and the spice makes them want to drink beer. It’s a win-win situation.

Of course, there are as many recipes for chili as there are reasons why the Kansas City Chiefs will not be in the Super Bowl in our lifetime. The important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as a bad chili. Unless, of course, someone offers up something they call a “meatless, healthy” chili. That, by definition, would be a bad chili.

The only problem with chili is that no self-respecting chili cook would ever admit to using a recipe, so it’s almost impossible to pass on, with any accuracy, a chili recipe. For example, I have made the same basic chili for nearly 30 years, and never, in all those years, has it ever tasted the same way twice. My chili is like a snowflake, is what it is.

A bowl of chili with a bottle of budweiser just behind and to the left of the bowl
The anchors to any Super Bowl party. Chili and beer.

Counter the chili

To balance my Super Bowl feast, I like to counter chili with a batch of chicken wings.

Again, like chili, there is no shortage of wing recipes. For Super Bowl Sunday, I figure there is no real reason to reinvent the wheel so I keep my wings fairly basic. What I like to do is fry up a mess of wings, toss them in a bowl of Floyd Hackett’s hot-wing sauce (Hot and Honey is always good) and then put them in the oven just long enough to glaze the sauce.

If you’re looking for something easier but equally as unhealthy, you can always serve up a plate of mini-pizza squares. The two primary ingredients in the pizza squares are sausage and — from that fourth vital food group — Velveeta cheese. I recommend when you serve the pizza squares that you have 911 programmed into your speed-dial system.

The vegetable

And, finally, we come to the vegetable portion of our Super Bowl spread.

It would be wrong to invite folks over to your Super Bowl party without offering your guests a healthy alternative.

That’s why at every Super Bowl party I make sure to lay out one small carrot. Other people opt to lay out one small piece of broccoli, which is fine, but I find the green off-putting.

To flesh out your Super Bowl spread, you can add 27 bags of potato chips and 79 different dips.

Oh, and a cheese ball.


Mike’s “it didn’t taste like this last time” chili

(measurements are all guesses)

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound sausage

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded, stemmed and diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

Spicy V-8 Juice or, if you can find it, Snappy Tom

In large skillet, brown ground beef and sausage and drain. While meats are draining, add vegetable oil to skillet and sauté peppers, garlic cloves, onion and green pepper over medium heat. While vegetables are sautéing, add tomatoes and tomato sauce to a large Dutch oven. Then add sautéed vegetables, meat and spices to the tomatoes and tomato sauce. If the chili is too thick, add V-8 juice or Snappy Tom to thin. But just a bit.

Bring to a boil over medium heat and then simmer over low heat for at least an hour. However the long the chili simmers the better. Garnish with grated cheese and green onions if you like. I suppose you can also garnish with sour cream, but personally I find that sort of thing disgusting.

Heart surgeon’s dream mini-pizza squares

1 pound hot Italian sausage

1 pound Velveeta spicy cheese

4 ounces butter

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 loaf party rye bread

Brown sausage in skillet. While sausage is browning, place cheese in a microwaveable bowl and until the cheese is melted. Approximately 5 to 8 minutes. When sausage in done drain a add to melted cheese mix ,stir thoroughly and return to the microwave for about 2 minutes.

When sausage and cheese mix is done melt the butter and garlic powder in the microwave. Lay out the rye bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with the garlic butter mixture. Then spoon out cheese and sausage mix evenly on bread slices. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Floyd Hackett-inspired chicken wings

36 chicken wings, cut and trimmed

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 bottle Hackett’s Hot and Honey Sauce

In Dutch oven or electric frying pan, pour up to 3 inches of oil and heat to 360 degrees. Add wings (in batches) to the oil and fry until crisp and brown, about 12 to 14 minutes. Drain on paper towels. The chicken may be fried several hours in advance of the party. If you do plan to fry the chicken in advance, once cooked and drained cover the chicken with foil and refrigerate.

Shortly before serving, toss wings in a bowl of Hackett’s sauce, place on a cookie sheet and then cook in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has glazed the wings and the wings are heated through.

Super Bowl Carrot

1 baby carrot


Take carrot, place on small plate.

Serve at room temperature.