How to nail yourSuper Bowl Spread

The guys on the field won't be the only heroes this year

If you’ve been wrapped up in all of the hullabaloo that’s made up 2017 so far, you may have forgotten about a distinctly American spectacle that is just around the corner: the Super Bowl!

Whether you’re a football fanatic or commercial connoisseur, zealous gambler or Little Monster, there’s one aspect of the Super Bowl we can all rally behind: delicious, indulgent grub (and beer, don’t forget the beer).

Wings, giant party subs, and pizza are crowd pleasers that never get old, but why not try something new this year to go along with some more standard fare? This year I’ll be digging into a “super bowl” of pasta (see what I did there?), and if you play your cards right you’ll have a necessary component for some nachos that’ll have your friends clamoring for you to host the Super Bowl LII party in 2018.

ragu imageImage courtesy of Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott 

While a bowl of pasta tossed with a rich ragù might not be traditional Super Bowl fare, something tells us you won’t hear a single complaint form your guests once they dig in to a bowl of meaty goodness. This recipe from Bon Appetit is absolutely outstanding if you  follow the recipe to a T, but there are a few tweaks I like to make:

-Popping the sauce into a 300° oven instead of simmering it on the stove for the recommended 3 hours has some practical and flavorful benefits. You’ll free up room on your stovetop, and you won’t need to continually check back and stir the pot. The steady heat of your oven lends itself to more even cooking, and taking the lid of the pot for the last half hour of cooking will encourage browning and yield a tastier finished product.

-I like to sub in white wine for the recommended red. I have it on hand more often, and the bitter notes in some reds often come through in the finished product. But if you prefer red, have at it. Your sauce will still be delicious.

-If you grab a slightly heavier piece of pork—say 3.5 to 4 lb instead of 3 lb—you’ll have some pork you can set aside instead of mixing it into the sauce. This will come in handy when you whip up a tray of nachos. If it doesn’t look like you have enough liquid in the sauce, adding some chicken stock will help fill it out.

Once you have your sauce, mixing it with a nice, wide noodle like pappardelle will have you experiencing ragù nirvana.

nachos bofyImage courtesy of Alex Lau

Now, on to that leftover pork you set aside. It won’t give you the most traditional nachos in town, but the pork/tomato combo won’t feel out of place at all mixed with tortilla chips, cheese, and guacamole. Again, Bon Appetit has hashtagblessed us with a guide to nacho perfection. I won’t pretend it needs any improvement, but here are some noteworthy highlights:

-Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil. So simple. Clean up will be a breeze and you won’t be scraping nacho remnants off a pan after the festivities end.

-Leave flimsy chips behind and look for something heftier. These chips have a great weight to bear, and you don’t need them cracking on you in your time of need.

-Layers! The key to nacho bliss, and complete melty cheese coverage.

You can’t control the game or the halftime show, but you’re in charge of you and your guests eating well. No matter what you serve, make sure to take some time to kick back and enjoy the company you’re with. Hooray sports!

-L.B. Holten