Maybe it’s pure coincidence of timing and texture. This week represents the peak of avocado season, and the outside of an avocado does have a slightly pebbly feel, sort of like a fully inflated football.
That puts avocados in prime position for Super Bowl Sunday, the No. 2 food “holiday” behind only Thanksgiving.
Who knows how avocados became the de facto ingredient for Super Bowl party success? But now, no veteran host would kick off Sunday’s celebration without a bowl of guacamole as part of the pre-game buffet.
Super Bowl XLIX (that’s 49 for those keeping track at home) happens to take place in Arizona, strengthening the Southwest link between guacamole and the Big Game. In salute to two pastimes (pro football and fun food), Americans are expected to consume avocados in record numbers.
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The totals are staggering: An estimated 120 million pounds of avocados will be consumed this week, according to the Hass Avocado Board. That’s about two avocados for every fan expected to watch the Big Game on TV. That avocado avalanche also represents a 21 percent increase over 2014’s Super Bowl Week consumption, partly because more avocados are available this winter and guacamole goes great with a Phoenix-based Super Bowl.
How much guacamole? Envision a football stadium with mashed avocado covering the field – 46 feet deep.
Like our lust for NFL football, our appetite for avocados has never been greater.
“Avocado demand in the U.S. has risen steadily, and we expect it will continue to do so,” said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board. “In 2014, over 1.85 billion pounds of Hass avocados were consumed in the U.S. That’s a 10 percent increase over 2013. The numbers are even higher when you look back 10 years. In 2004, Americans consumed just over 682 million pounds of Hass avocados.”
Although all guacamoles start with avocados, this festive dip is very flexible. Add or substitute ingredients to make it your own.
“One of the best things about guacamole is it can easily be customized,” Escobedo said. “Simply start with avocados and add ingredients that are sourced locally or popular within a region. … A fun way to get into the Big Game spirit is to customize guacamole to show support for your favorite team in the (Super Bowl).”
Guacamole also is a natural accompaniment for Southwest-inspired finger food. Celebrity chef David Venable of QVC rolled out his own Big Game buffet ideas with lots of these crowd-pleasing variations on Southwest fare. Quesadillas, taco bites, mini-burritos and other grab-and-eat munchies will fill up your guests without fussing for utensils. It’s a win-win menu for everyone.
As for maintaining buffet decorum among the football-watching free-for-all, remember to have spoons handy for the guacamole, salsa and other dips. That way, guests can serve themselves some dip on their own little plates instead of hovering around the communal bowl. It also cuts down on that big party faux pas: double dipping.
“To keep people from double dipping, we encourage party hosts to put out carrots sticks or other individual produce pieces instead of chips,” Escobedo said. “This makes it harder to double dip, but also is better for you.”
In a recent survey, the avocado board found that only 4 percent of respondents admitted double dipping. (That compares to 22 percent who commit another offense: shoveling dip.)
“We were most surprised that more Americans didn’t own up to double dipping,” he said. “Everyone has done it, but no one wants to admit it.”
Call The Bee’s Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington.
SUPER BOWL XLIX
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium,
When: 3:20 p.m. Sunday
TV: 3 p.m. Sunday, Channel 3
Teams: New England Patriots vs.
TIPS ON DIPS
Nothing sours that Super Bowl party mood faster than a battle over the buffet table. Help your guests make the right call with these dip tips:
▪ Keep dips at the right temperature: hot dips hot and cold dips cold. Put them out on the buffet table just before serving. For cold dips (such as guacamole), serve the dip inside a bowl snuggled into a larger bowl packed with ice.
▪ Discourage “double dipping.” Serve dip with smaller chips or crackers (just one-bite size) or with carrot or celery sticks. Have a spoon handy next to the dip bowl, so guests can dish some dip onto their own plate instead of repeatedly dipping into the communal bowl.
▪ Serve dip in individual little cups. This works great with guacamole and dip combinations such as seven-layer dip. Guests have their own single-serving “bowl” for dipping and can double-dip if they prefer.
▪ Make party etiquette fun. Create “party penalty flags” – wrap table tennis balls in yellow napkins, anchored with rubber bands, to resemble referee’s penalty flags. If someone is caught double dipping, hogging the nachos or other infractions, throw the “flag.” Or get a whistle; all buffet play stops when guests hear that sound.
– Debbie Arrington
Guaca-BOWL-e nachos stadium
Create your own “super bowl.” This idea comes from the Hass Avocado Board. Use multi-colored chips to mimic fans in the stands.
8 ripe fresh avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup sour cream
5 black olives, pitted
8 baby carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, reserve 10 additional leaves for garnish
1 bag (13 ounces) tortilla chips
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar or jalapeño jack
2 small bell peppers, different colors, seeded and cut into small squares to resemble flags
4 radishes, thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 7 avocados, lime juice, onion, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. Mash to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the guacamole into a 6-cup rectangular dish (or aluminum foil carry-out container); smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.
Place the dish of guacamole in the center of a large platter or tray. Scoop the sour cream into a small (sandwich-size) plastic bag. Snip a tiny piece from a corner of the bag; pipe lines of sour cream on the guacamole to resemble a football field. Pipe lines on one olive to resemble a football; place in center of the field.
Pare down one end of each of 4 baby carrots and fit one end of each carrot into one of the remaining black olives to make football players with helmets; press “players” into the field. Slice remaining 4 carrots crosswise and reserve for garnish.
Sprinkle the edges of the guacamole “field” with chopped cilantro.
Place half of the tortilla chips on two large foil-lined, baking sheets. Top with half of the cheese and bell peppers. Top with remaining chips, cheese and peppers. Bake 3 to 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Working quickly, place the tortilla chips around the guacamole, mounding them up on the outside edges to appear as stadium seating.
Sprinkle chips with radishes, remaining cilantro leaves, baby carrots and chopped scallion. Cube remaining avocado; add to nachos as garnish. Serve.
Start with this basic recipe, then get creative with variations. Recipe from The Associated Press.
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup diced red onion
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Hot sauce, to taste
Slice the avocados in half lengthwise around the pits. Twist to separate the halves and remove the pits. Spoon the flesh into a medium bowl. Use a fork to mash the avocado until as chunky or smooth as you prefer.
Stir in the lime juice, cumin, tomato, cilantro and red onion. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Serve immediately.
▪ Quick and “dirty”: In place of the tomato, cilantro and red onion, stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite jarred salsa, 1 tablespoon olive brine and 2 tablespoons chopped green olives.
▪ Mango-balsamic: In place of the tomato, stir in the diced flesh of 1 mango. Use scallions in place of the red onion and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar in place of the lime juice.
▪ Chipotle-corn: Stir in 1 minced chipotle and 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo. Add 1/2 cup corn kernels.
▪ Tzatziki: Use 1 cup finely diced seedless cucumber in place of the tomato and red onion. Use dill in place of the cilantro. Stir in 2 minced cloves garlic.
▪ Roasted garlic and poblano: Roast a head of garlic wrapped in foil with a little olive oil until tender and brown, about 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Roast a poblano pepper under the broiler, turning frequently, until the skin chars. Carefully remove the charred skin from the pepper, then chop the flesh. Squeeze the garlic pulp from the skin and mash. Mix both into the guacamole, omitting the onion.
▪ Minted cotija: Follow the basic method for guacamole, but use 2 avocados, the lime juice, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, and 2/3 cup crumbled cotija cheese. Season with salt and black pepper.
▪ Maple-bacon: Follow the basic method for guacamole, but use 3 avocados, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 chopped scallions, and 1/2 cup chopped cooked bacon. Season heavily with black pepper.
▪ Ginger-hoisin: Add 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce.
▪ Citrus tabbouleh: Replace the tomato and onion with 3/4 cup purchased tabbouleh and the zests of 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange.
▪ Shrimp scampi: Use lemon juice in place of the lime juice and basil in place of the cilantro. Omit the cumin, tomato and onion. Stir in 1 cup chopped cooked shrimp, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
Mini bean and beef burritos
Be sure to let your tortillas warm to room temperature before forming your little burritos. Alternatively, you can wrap them in foil and heat them in the oven for a few minutes, or until softened but not toasted. Or put all 8 tortillas between two paper towels and zap in the microwave for 1 minute at medium power. Vegetarians can leave out the beef and double the beans. Recipe from The Associated Press.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt and ground black pepper
8 small (8-inch) flour tortillas, room temperature
One 15-ounce can refried beans
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Salsa and guacamole
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Add the ground beef and sauté, breaking it up, until browned, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili powder, then stir well. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside off the heat.
One at a time, lay a tortilla flat on the counter. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the re-fried beans evenly over the entire surface of the tortilla. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the ground beef mixture in a line near the edge of the tortilla closest to you, then top that with about 1 tablespoon cheese.
To fold the burrito, start with the edge closest to you, lifting it and rolling it toward the center. Halfway into the roll, fold both sides toward the center and over the rolled bottom edge. Now continue rolling the bottom until the burrito is fully formed as a log. The refried beans should hold the burrito together. Place the burrito in the prepared pan, then repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Scatter the remaining 1/2 cup cheese over the tops of the burritos, then bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned at the edges. Serve with salsa and guacamole on the side.
Beef brisket quesadillas
This recipe comes from celebrity chef David Venable of QVC. Make the brisket the day before (or earlier). The quesadillas need about 2 pounds of cooked brisket; after roasting, freeze the extra cooked beef (if any) for other uses.
1 beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup smoky barbecue sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1 large onion, chopped and sautéed
4 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
4 cups Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
One 16-ounce can refried beans
7 extra large (burrito-size) flour tortillas
Oil for frying
To prepare the brisket, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the brisket in a large casserole dish or roasting pan; set aside. Combine the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black pepper and brown sugar in a small bowl. Rub on both sides of the brisket.
In another small bowl, combine the barbecue sauce and beef broth. Pour over the brisket. Cover the dish or pan with foil and bake for 3 hours. Remove the foil and bake for 1 more hour, or until fork-tender and the liquid has reduced. Allow the brisket to cool, then cover and refrigerate (in the remaining sauce) for 24 hours.
To prepare the quesadillas, preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Remove the brisket from the fridge and discard any fat that may have accumulated on the surface of the liquid. Place the brisket on a large cutting board and cut the meat, against the grain, into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place half of the brisket slices into a large sauce pot with half of its liquid. Heat on low and break up the meat slightly. (Place the other half of the meat and the liquid, if desired, into a zip-top bag or an air-tight container and freeze for later use.)
Lay out 7 flour tortillas. Spread a thin layer of refried beans on one half of each tortilla. (Use the whole can.) Divide the warm brisket over the beans. Top with the sautéed onions and cheese and fold up the tortillas.
Pour about 1/3 cup of oil in a large sauté pan or griddle and set the heat to medium-high. Gently place the quesadillas in the hot oil and brown each side. Keep the finished quesadilla warm in the oven and repeat this process until all the quesadillas have been fried. Slice each quesadilla into 4 wedges and serve.
Crunchy salmon taco bites
This recipe comes from celebrity chef David Venable of QVC.
8 ounces fresh raw salmon, skin removed
1/8 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 jalapeño pepper, stem removed, seeded, and chopped
1/8 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
For fish tacos:
1 cup shredded green cabbage, finely chopped
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh tomato, seeded, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
21/2 tablespoons lime juice
Small round corn tortillas chips
Fresh cilantro springs (optional garnish)
Sour cream (optional garnish)
To prepare the salmon for the tacos, place the filet in a plastic zip-top bag; set aside. Combine the oil, lime juice, chili powder, jalapeño, cilantro, dried oregano, black pepper and salt in a small bowl. Pour the mixture into the zip-top bag with the salmon and then seal the bag. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
In a lightly oiled, preheated skillet, sauté the salmon over medium-high heat until fully cooked, approximately 5 minutes on each side. Move the filet to a cutting board and flake the fish into small pieces. Allow it to cool.
To prepare the fish tacos, place the cooked fish and all the other taco ingredients, except for the corn tortillas and the garnishes, into a large bowl and mix until evenly incorporated. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture onto each corn tortilla chip and add a small dollop (about 1/2 teaspoon) of sour cream of top, if desired. Garnish with a cilantro leaf, if desired.
Mexican fiesta wontons
This recipe was developed by celebrity chef David Venable for QVC.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
8 ounces lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup canned green chilies, diced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons enchilada sauce
24 wonton wrappers
Cheese dipping sauce:
One 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions, well drained
1/4 cup canned green chilies, diced
One 16-ounce package Velveeta cheese, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
1/4 cup Corona beer or other pale lager
To prepare the wontons: Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Place the ground beef into the pan, sprinkle with the salt, and cook until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan, drain any excess fat, and place into a bowl. Set aside.
Add the other teaspoon of oil to the pan, and then add the onions, peppers and chilies, and cook until tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Place the meat back into the pan with the cooked vegetables, and then add the enchilada sauce. Cook for 2 more minutes, or until the sauce is fully absorbed. Scoop the mixture into a bowl. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
To assemble the wontons: Brush the edges of each wrapper with water, and one by one, place 1 tablespoon of the meat filling into each. Fold the wonton in half to form a triangle and seal the edges. Brush the tips of the triangles with a little more water to join them together, and press to bind. Freeze the stuffed wontons until you’re ready to fry.
Preheat a deep fryer to 350 degrees. Place the wontons into the deep fryer in batches and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, flipping them halfway through, until golden brown.
To prepare the cheese sauce: Place the petite diced tomatoes and chopped chilies into a 3-quart sauce pot and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the chopped Velveeta cheese, enchilada sauce and beer. Cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese is completely melted. Place the dip into a warm serving vessel and serve with fried wontons.
Twice-baked red hots
This recipe was developed by the makers of Cholula hot sauce and gives baby potatoes a Southwest accent.
12 small (2-inch diameter) red new potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce or similar pepper hot sauce
Salt to taste
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg yolk
A pinch of ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons Cholula hot sauce (or similar) or more to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup green onion, minced fine
Sour cream for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and dry the potatoes. Roll them in a mixture of 1 tablespoon vegetable and 1 teaspoon hot sauce, then sprinkle with a bit of salt and bake in a single layer for 20 minutes or until just done.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut a small slice off the top and scoop out the center with a small spoon leaving just enough to keep each potato’s form. Rice or mash the potato centers. Add the grated cheeses, cream, egg yolk, Worcestershire, hot sauce, two-thirds of the minced green onion (reserve remaining one-third for garnish) and seasonings.
Spoon the mixture into the potato shells and return to oven until top browns. Serve with a dollop of sour cream topped with minced green onion.