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Essential foods for Super Bowl Sunday are nearly as prescribed as those for Thanksgiving. Think big, loud, uncomplicated food, with plenty of melted cheese, spicy beans, towering sandwiches and fiery chili.

"No Super Bowl party is complete without chips and guacamole," says Chef Jack Mitchell of Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whisky Bar in Santa Rosa, and statistics confirm that avocado sales nearly double as the Super Bowl approaches.

Other essential nibbles for big-game parties include chicken wings, nachos, deviled eggs and gooey fondue.

"And if you don't cook," Mitchell continues, "you have pizza delivered."

This year, given that San Francisco, Baltimore and New Orleans are all seafood country, expect plenty of crab and oysters, too. Indeed, there's an ongoing debate over the relative merits of the Bay Area's Dungeness versus Maryland's blue crab. Crab cake cook-off, anyone?

So, how, exactly, is Sonoma County celebrating? We asked several local restaurateurs and chefs about their plans and for their best advice.

Traditionally, Jack and Tony's has closed, but this year it's open and Mitchell expects bar food, including deviled eggs, taquitos with guacamole, pulled pork sandwiches, garlic fries and mussels steamed in beer to be popular.

Restaurateur Mark Stark, although rooting for the Niners, is from the Baltimore area; a win by the Ravens wouldn't be a total tragedy.

When the 49ers secured their spot in the Super Bowl, Stark and hiw wife, Terri, celebrated with Buffalo-style pork short ribs, inspired by the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings.

"I had the short ribs on hand and they were so good that I'm surprised no one has thought to do this," he says.

When the 49ers secured their spot in the Super Bowl, Stark celebrated with Buffalo-style pork short ribs, inspired by the classic Buffalo Chicken Wings.

"I had the short ribs on hand and they were so good that I'm surprised no one has thought to do this," he says.

Given that there's a national chicken-wing shortage, it might be the way to go. There's less production at this time of year, cost of feed has risen and thousands of restaurants — including dozens in Sonoma County — have wings on the menu. If you plan on preparing wings, get them right away or risk missing out. Local distributors hope to keep up with demand but admit they can't guarantee it.

Chef John Ash suggests chili and posole, both of which can hold up well in slow cookers and be garnished at the last minute by guests.

Chef Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant expects to tuck into poutine, that classic Quebecois fast-food dish, with confit fries. Poutine? Think chili cheese fries on steroids, with beef gravy and fresh cheese curds smothering the fries and all manner of other toppings, from ground beef, shredded turkey and merguez to truffles, caviar and fois gras.

Chef Terri Pischoff Wuerthner, a food writer and cooking instructor who lives in Santa Rosa but is a 10th-generation Acadian from Louisiana's Cajun country, has important advice if you're hosting a Superbowl fete, as she does most years.

"Last year," she says, "I made Shrimp Boil because my 14-year-old grandson loves it. But it required too much last-minute fiddling; guests had to butter the corn and deal with three accompanying sauces and a lot just gave up and went into the other room to watch the game."

Prepare everything in advance, she urges, and have it set out so that people can quickly snag a bite or a plate without being distracted. It should go without saying that all foods should be able to remain at room temperature safely. To keep things hot, use slow cookers, crock pots and very low flames.

Take-out is a good option for home parties, too. Larry Vito of BBQ Smokehouse (6811 Laguna Park Way, Sebastopol, 575-3277) does brisk Super Bowl business and names ribs, pulled pork, cole slaw, potato salad and chicken wings lacquered with an Asian-style sauce as his most popular dishes. Although Vito can accommodate many same-day orders, he urges people, especially large groups, to call a couple of days ahead or risk disappoint. Although not himself a football aficionado — his wife Renee is — he's considering bringing a television into the restaurant for this year's game.

For more Super Bowl party advice and recipes, including Wuerthner's Cajun Creamy Cheesy Crab Spread, John Ash's Posole Blanco and Chef Michael Mina's (of Michael Mina restaurant, San Francisco) Dungeness Crab Cioppino with Crab Toast, visit "Eat This Now" at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

No Super Bowl party is complete without chips and guacamole. There are countless recipes and plenty of take-out and commercial options. But when it comes to guac, the simplest is usually the best. Be sure not to mash the avocados too much; guacamole should be chunky, not smooth.

Classic Guacamole

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1white onion, cut into small dice

3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced

2 to 4 serrano chiles, minced

— Kosher salt

? cup, loosely packed, cilantro leaves

6 firm-ripe Hass avocados

2 ripe tomatoes, optional

— Chips of choice

Set aside about 3 tablespoons of onion and put the rest into a large mortar and pestle. Add the garlic, serranos and several generous pinches of salt and pound the mixture into a paste. Add half the cilantro and pound until it is incorporated.

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pits, scoop out the flesh and put it into a large bowl. Use a fork to lightly mash the avocados and then fold them into the onion paste, along with about two-thirds of the tomato, if using.

Taste, correct for salt, top with the reserved onion, cilantro and tomato and serve with chips.

>Note: If you do not have a mortar and pestle, use a very sharp knife to mince the onions, garlic, chiles and cilantro until they are reduced nearly to a paste. Do not use a food processor.

During the Super Bowl, chili is nearly as ubiquitous as guacamole and chicken wings. If you don't have a favorite family recipe, give Chef John Ash's quick version a try. You won't be disappointed.

John Ash's 30-Minute Chili, with or without beans

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 medium onions, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, chopped

— Salt and freshly black ground pepper

3 ounces ( tomato paste

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

2 teaspoons ground cumin

? teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 pounds coarse ground beef chuck (85% lean)

3 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice

1 bottle (12 ounces) mild lager beer

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained (optional)

— Shredded Pepper Jack cheese, chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges and corn chips, for garnish

Put the vegetable oil into a Dutch oven or large (5-quart) heavy pot set over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, chipotles, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the beer. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat so that it simmers fairly rapidly. Continue to cook until the chili has thickened slightly. Add the beans, if using, and cook until they are fully tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls, with the garnishes alongside.

Chefs Karen and Lucas Martin of K&L Bistro in Sebastopol fix Superbowl wings two ways, one with hot sauce and this hot-sweet-salty version. If you're feeding more than a couple of people, you should probably double the recipe.

K & L Bistro's Korean Chicken Wings

Makes 16 wings

— Canola oil, for frying

5 garlic cloves

1?-inch piece of fresh ginger

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons Korean chile paste (gojujang)

1? tablespoons rice vinegar

1 ablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

16 (about 1? to 2 pounds) chicken wings

Pour 2 inches of oil into a heavy 6-quart pot and set over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, put the garlic and ginger into a food processor and pulse several times. Add the soy sauce, chile paste, vinegar, sesame oil and honey and pulse until the mixture is pureed. Transfer to a large bowl.

Put the flour, cornstarch and 2/3<NO1><NO> cup water into a medium bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the chicken and toss well, until all the wings are evenly coated.

Set paper towels or other absorbent paper on a work surface next to the stove. Working in batches of 5 or 6 wings at a time, fry until the wings are golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to the paper and drain.

With the oil again at 350 degrees, fry the wings, in batches, a second time, until they are fully crisp. Drain thoroughly, turn in the sauce and serve.

These delicious mussels, paired with New Orleans andouille sausage, are easy to prepare and keep well in a slow cooker or on the stove. Make sure to have plenty of good bread for sopping up the delicious juices.

Jack Mitchell's Mussels Steamed with Andouille Sausage and Beer

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons mild olive oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into ?-inch thick rounds

4 pounds PEI (Prince Edward Island) mussels, rinsed and trimmed as needed

6 to 8 garlic cloves, minced

1 to 2 sticks butter

32 ounces pilsner or other beer, not too hoppy

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

? cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

—sliced hearth bread, hot

Set a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and sausage and cook until the onions are lightly browned and the sausage has begun to release its fat. Increase the heat to high, add the mussels and cook until the first of the mussels begin to open. Add the garlic, butter and beer and season generously with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook until all the mussels open. Use a large slotted spoon to transfer the mussels to a large bowl, continue cooking the sauce until it is reduced by half; taste and correct for salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the mussels and sausage, sprinkle parsley on top and serve, with hot bread alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 &amp; 91.1 FM.

E-mail Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com

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