Sure, you’ll have some guacamole and some chips and some chicken wings. And a plate of nachos isn’t a bad idea, either. But how about something to set your Super Bowl spread apart?
How about some homemade beef jerky? Because while it may sound daunting to season and dry your own meat, it actually is a simple process that requires little hands-on time. It also can be done well ahead – as in weeks – and the results are pretty spectacular. And let’s not forget how wonderfully a well-seasoned hunk of jerky goes with all that beer you’ll be drinking.
At its most basic, jerky is thinly sliced meat that is slowly dried until most of the moisture is removed. While some people use food dehydrators for this, an oven set at 200 degrees works just fine, too.
But nobody wants plain jerky, and that’s where the marinade comes in. Think ingredients like hot sauce, lime juice, soy sauce and coffee.
All the equipment you need are a rimmed baking sheet and a wire rack. You set the rack over the pan, lay the marinated meat on the rack, then pop it in the oven for a few hours.
Once the jerky is dried, be sure to let it cool fully. It will be drier and firmer once cooled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Or until you have time to make a beer run for the big game.
Below are recipes for jerky and other unusual takes on Super Bowl bites.
Sweet heat beef jerky
Start to finish: 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours (30 minutes active), plus cooling
When making jerky, you want to get very lean beef. Top or bottom round is good if you want large, wide slices of jerky. For thin strips, flank steak (cut against the grain) is good. Whatever cut you get, be sure to trim away and discard as much fat as possible before slicing and marinating.
One 12-ounce can cola (not diet)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons hot sauce (adjust to your tolerance)
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
21/2 pounds lean beef
In a large bowl, gently whisk together the cola, brown sugar, soy sauce, hot sauce and black pepper. Cut the beef into slices about 1/4-inch thick and add to the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 8 to 10 hours.
When ready to dry the jerky, heat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a metal rack over it. Mist the rack with cooking spray.
Remove the slices of jerky from the marinade, shaking them lightly to remove excess liquid. Arrange the slices on the prepared rack, leaving just enough space between them so they don’t touch or overlap.
Place the baking sheet on the oven’s middle shelf. Leave for 3 hours. Once an hour, rotate the pan front to back. After 3 hours, check the jerky. It should be just barely tender. If not, return to the oven for another 30 minutes to an hour, checking regularly.
Remove the pan from the oven and let dry completely on the rack. Refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 weeks. Let come to room temperature before serving.
Per serving: 150 calories; 45 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 21 g protein; 135 mg sodium.
Korean-style chicken wings
Gochujang, a Korean hot sauce, is becoming increasingly common. Find it in the Asian or international aisle of most larger grocers.
Start to finish: 1 hour (15 minutes active)
3 pounds chicken wings, split into drummettes and wings (tips discarded)
1 tablespoon baking powder
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 tablespoons gochujang (for a milder heat, use 3 to 4 tablespoons)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
6 cloves garlic, finely grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
Chilled cucumber spears dressed with sesame oil and salt, to serve
Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then set a metal rack over it.
Use paper towels to pat dry the chicken wings. In a large bowl, toss the wings with the baking powder and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken pieces in an even layer on the rack over the prepared pan. Roast for 40 minutes, or until golden, turning the pan after 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a second large bowl, whisk together the gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, ginger and sesame oil. Set aside.
Once the chicken wings have roasted, transfer them to the bowl with the sauce. Toss until well coated, then return them to the roasting rack. Increase the oven to broil and set the chicken on an oven shelve about 6 inches from the heat.
Broil for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and chars in places.
Transfer to a serving platter, then sprinkle with sesame seeds and accompany with cucumber spears.
Per serving: 480 calories; 230 calories from fat (48% of total calories); 26 g fat (7 g sat.; 0 g trans); 205 mg chol.; 24 g carb.; 2 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 35 g protein; 2,380 mg sodium.
Buffalo chicken and kale stuffed mushrooms
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Makes 15 mushrooms
Two 10-ounce packages medium white button, baby bella or cremini mushrooms, stemmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch kale, stems removed, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped cooked chicken
8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
Olive oil cooking spray
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or kitchen parchment, then mist with olive oil cooking spray.
Use a damp paper towel to wipe the mushroom caps clean, then season them with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the kale and sauté until wilted. Add the lemon juice, cover and allow to steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Uncover, remove the pan from heat and stir in the chicken.
In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles. Add the kale and chicken mixture to the cream cheese mixture and mix well. Spoon the cheese filling into the mushroom caps, then arrange the filled caps on the prepared baking sheet.
Mist the tops lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are golden and mushrooms are tender.
Per mushroom: 80 calories; 45 calories from fat (56 percent of total calories); 5 g fat (3 g sat.; 0 g trans fats); 25 mg chol.; 3 g carb.; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugar; 6 g protein; 250 mg sodium.