If it’s the end of January, we must be close to that day which approaches National Holiday status here in the U.S. Yes; we’re talking about the Super Bowl. Over the last few years more women have been watching football, which means that I’m not the only one who wanders the grocery store aisles the week before the Big Game wondering how to go just a step beyond the ultra-casual norms.
Here are a few ways to “class it up” if you’re hosting the Big Game this year:
Even though I love a good, old-fashioned mailed invitation, an Evite or other electronic invitation is perfectly fine for this casual get-together. Send out invitations at least 1-2 weeks in advance, and don’t be shy about asking your guests to bring very specific items if you’re having a potluck. For example, rather than having a sign-up for “side dish”, list an item that would go well with the overall menu that you are planning, like “Crudité Platter with Hummus”.
Sure, you could serve beverages in paper cups, but I prefer to go just one step beyond paper when I host parties. My rule of thumb is to use real glasses for parties of up to 12 people. For parties over 12 guests, I’ll use clear plastic cups. Ditto for plates: real dinner plates for smaller parties, clear plastic plates for larger gatherings. I’m a big fan of Libbey glassware because it’s durable yet affordable enough that, when one of the glasses inevitably breaks when a helpful guest is washing your dishes, you’re not heartbroken – and they’re easily replaced. I like to have a couple sets of the 16-oz Pilsner Glasses and the 16-oz Belgian Beer Glasses next to the variety of beers that I’m serving. And, to make it easy for guests to identify their glasses during the party, I put the Drink Markers on the glasses before guests arrive.
Rather than grab a few quick and easy items in plastic tubs in the grocery store deli section, make at least one entrée yourself and supplement it with easy sides that your guests can bring. This recipe for a hearty Pork & Poblano Chili is one that you can make a day in advance to avoid cooking in the middle of last-minute party prep.
Thankfully, craft beer is undergoing a renaissance here in the US – take advantage of it! Offer guests a range of craft beer options in a tub of ice next to some beer glasses and a bottle opener. If you don’t know how to pair craft beer with your food, go to one of the larger liquor stores in your area and ask for advice! I have found that the beer buyers are very enthusiastic and eager to share their knowledge of craft beer with newbies, and it’s especially helpful if you have a menu in mind. The Chili recipe I’m sharing pairs well with American Brown Ale. In the American Brown Ale, you will be able to taste notes of roasted malt, caramel, and chocolate, but they will be at a medium intensity when compared to darker beers.
Why This Pairing Works: The roasted malt flavor tones down the mild heat in this dish, while the slight sweetness of the malt is a perfect match for the natural sweetness of the pork, beans, and corn.
Super Bowl Pork and Poblano Chili
- 4-1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 2 lb. boneless country pork ribs, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 3/4-inch dice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 chopped yellow onions
- 3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 fresh poblano chile, chopped
- 1 4-oz. can mild green chiles, drained
- 2 Tbs. chili powder
- 1 Tbs. ground cumin
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3/4 cup hard cider
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups chicken broth
- 4 15-oz cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
Garnishes: Crumbled queso fresco, chopped fresh cilantro
Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy-duty 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Pat the pork dry, and season with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Cook half of the pork, undisturbed, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. Add another 1 Tbs. oil to the pot, and brown the remaining pork; transfer to the plate along with any liquid from the pot.
Add the remaining 1-1/2 Tbs. of oil, the onion, and garlic to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the poblano, canned green chiles, chili powder, cumin, and bay leaves, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
Pour in the cider, turn the heat up to high, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits (I like to use a flat bottom wooden spatula [OXO Good Grips Saute Paddle] to get all of the flavorful brown bits and incorporate them back into the dish), until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium low. Purée 1-1/2 cups of the beans in a blender or food processor, adding a little stewing liquid as needed, and then stir the puréed beans into the stewing liquid in the pot. Return the pork, along with any accumulated juice, to the pot. Add the remaining whole beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour. If the chili gets too thick, thin it with a little water.
Add the corn to the chili and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the garnishes.