Sunday Afternoon Football Food

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There is a month of Sundays between now and the Super Bowl, which falls on Feb. 3. If your house is like mine, lot of football is watched on Sunday afternoons, while great quantities of food are consumed.

Some of it is poured from a bag into a bowl; some of it is eaten directly from the bag it came in. However, I prefer serving foods that are more substantial than peanuts, pretzels and popcorn.

While chips and dips of all kinds are perennial crowd pleasers, the signature dish of Sunday afternoon football is Buffalo wings. Although some people wonder if buffaloes have wings, if they are kosher and where you can buy them, it turns out none of this is problematic.

Buffalo wings are actually chicken wings minus the wing tip. Their name comes from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., where they were invented in 1964.

For decades, I shied away from Buffalo wings because they are coated in a wildly hot sauce. But you can modulate the heat right down to mild, so don’t let hot sauce be a deterrent. Buffalo wings are traditionally served with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. However, aioli is a pareve replacement, which I find lighter and better tasting than blue cheese dressing.

The recipes below can be enjoyed as hearty snacks or a light dinner, depending on how many hours of football people watch. They can be consumed in front of the TV, often competing with the game.

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Buffalo Wings | Meat

Serves six as an appetizer or a snack.

Serve Buffalo wings with celery sticks and aioli.

10 chicken wings

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon granulated salt

⅛ teaspoon chili powder

2 cups corn oil, or more, if needed

Optional accompaniments: celery sticks and aioli

Part 1

Cut off the wing tips and discard or use for another purpose. Cut the joint between the part resembling a drumstick and the remaining part. Rinse them under cold water and dry them on paper towels.

Into a gallon-size zippered plastic bag, place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powders, salt and chili. Seal the bag and shake to mix the ingredients. Add half of the chicken pieces. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken. Open the bag and shake off excess flour mixture from each piece of chicken. Repeat with the second half of the chicken pieces. Move to two dinner plates. Discard the remaining flour and plastic bag.

Before starting Part 2, reserve the chicken at room temperature, while preparing the Buffalo Wing Sauce, the celery sticks and aioli (recipes below).

Part 2

Into two large frying pans, pour 1 cup of corn oil apiece, 2 cups in all. Heat over a medium flame until the oil is warm. Using tongs, move the chicken wing pieces to the frying pans. When browned, turn each piece. Keep turning until all sides are brown and crunchy. Add more oil, if needed. If the oil starts to spatter, reduce the flame to medium-low or low.

Pierce two or three pieces of chicken with a knife to make sure juices run clear, not pink. If they are pink, continue to fry until the juices are clear.

Drain the wings on paper towels. Move them to a large, wide bowl and drizzle on the Buffalo Wing Sauce. Toss gently to make sure each piece of chicken is coated. Serve immediately with aioli and celery sticks.

Buffalo Wing Sauce | Pareve

Yield: ½ to ¾ cup, depending on how much Tabasco is added.

This recipe can be made mild, medium, hot or super-hot, depending on how much Tabasco sauce you use. One tablespoon of Tabasco yields a mild sauce with just a little kick.

½ cup margarine in stick form

1 tablespoon Tabasco pepper sauce, or as much heat as you can take

Cut the margarine into eight slices. Move them to a small pot and melt over a medium-low flame. Remove the pot from the flame. Add 1 tablespoon of Tabasco and whisk until well combined.

Take a taste. If you’d like a hotter sauce, add the Tabasco ¼ of a teaspoon at a time, until the desired degree of heat is reached. Reserve until after the Buffalo wings are fried.

Aioli | Pareve

Yield: Six teaspoons

8 garlic cloves, skins removed

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoon lite mayonnaise

2 teaspoon olive oil

4 teaspoon lemon juice

4 drops balsamic vinegar

Squeeze the garlic cloves through a garlic press. Scrape the pressed garlic into a small bowl, and discard the fibers left inside the garlic press. Add the salt and mash with a salad fork until the mixture forms a mush-like consistency. Add the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. With the salad fork, mix until well combined.

Reserve the mixture until the Buffalo wings are fried. It can be made 24 hours in advance, if covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

White Bean Dip | Pareve

Yield: about ¾ cup

1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 cubes of day-old bread (challah works well)

2 tablespoons olive oil, or more, if needed

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

2 teaspoon chives, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

Kosher salt to taste

Pinch of white pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Paprika for garnish

Accompaniments: baby carrots and pita bread cut into triangles

Drain the beans in a colander. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor. Scrape the starch from the bottom of the can into the bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients. Process until the ingredients are well blended and the beans are completely mashed. If the dip is too stiff, add more olive oil, ¼ teaspoon at a time, processing after each addition.

Spoon the dip into a serving bowl. Dust the top with paprika. Serve immediately with baby carrots and pita triangles, if using.

Cauliflower Florets and Spicy Russian Dressing Dip | Pareve

Yield: ¾ cup Russian dressing. Serves six to eight.

1 head of cauliflower

3 tablespoons lite mayonnaise

½ cup ketchup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Rinse the cauliflower under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Break it into florets. If some are too large, cut them in half. Reserve.

Place the remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Spoon the dip into an attractive bowl. Place the bowl in the center of a round platter and surround it with the florets. Serve immediately.

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