New England, or New York?
Oh, wait, you didn’t think we were talking about Patriots versus Giants, did you? No, we’re talking clam chowders — the creamy New England versus the tomato-based Manhattan.
Yes, the Super Bowl this Sunday could easily be fought on a culinary playing field. And if that were the case, Brian Baldwin is certain New England would win.
Baldwin’s in a position to know. As corporate director of culinary operations for Station Casinos, whose Oyster Bar at Palace Station and Sunset Station, Texas Star Oyster Bar at Texas Station and Tides Oyster Bar at Green Valley Ranch Resort serve both types of chowder daily, he knows which one sells better.
"Definitely the New England," Baldwin said. "It’s heartier. I just think the flavor profile is something that more people are accustomed to."
But even Baldwin would probably concede that, at least in most years, chowder isn’t exactly a Super Bowl staple.
"I think definitely chicken wings are a favorite," he said. "It’s just kind of a fun snack. It’s spicy, makes you want to drink a little more."
"Chicken wings are always a big thing," agreed Anthony Meidenbauer, corporate executive chef for Block 16 Hospitality, which owns LBS: A Burger Joint at Red Rock Resort, Holstein’s at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and three other local restaurants. "It’s fried, crispy, greasy and it goes great with beer; it’s the perfect food. People are always drinking beer while watching the Super Bowl."
Yes, it seems that that snack is irrevocably tied to that beverage:
"Wings go really well with beer, and beer goes really well with the Super Bowl," confirmed Timothy Radigan, executive chef of the Pub at the Monte Carlo.
And well, of course they’re right — about the wings as well as the beer. While the National Restaurant Association reports that salsas, dips or spreads are the No. 1 "must-have" food category for watching the Big Game, chicken wings are a strong second. And the National Chicken Council estimates that more than 1.25 billion wings — 100 million pounds — will be consumed this weekend. (That’s from the folks at the Wing Stop chain, who expect to prepare 5.6 million of them themselves.)
Meidenbauer, who hails from Buffalo, N.Y., and is in the Anchor Bar camp, said the traditional style always is a good choice, but he’s also going to feature an Asian-inspired wing tossed with potato starch and fried until crisp, then served salt-and-pepper style, with garlic, chili, fried jalapeno and Hawaiian pink sea salt.
"The key is getting a nice big, jumbo chicken wing," he said. "We make sure we get the six- to nine-per-pound jumbo wings."
LBS and Holstein’s also will serve themed burgers. The Patriot will be topped with fried clam strips, frisee, sliced tomato, coleslaw and Russian dressing.
The New York version posed a little more discussion
"What’s popular in New York is the dirty-water dog or pizza," Meidenbauer said. "We didn’t want to call it the Dirty-Water Dog Burger — didn’t think people would go for that."
The Big Apple, then, is served on focaccia and topped with pepperoni, mozzarella, oregano-marinated roasted tomatoes and garlic.
Beer is clearly a major Super Bowl food group, which is something for a host or hostess to remember.
Josef Pilz, executive chef at the M Resort, said beer is an integral part of many of the dishes served at the property’s new Anthony’s Gourmet Burgers & Brews. Those would include the Imperial burger, topped with stout-marinated short ribs; the Lagerburger, with Peroni beer-poached Italian sausage; and the mini-brats served with Arrogant Bastard mustard dip. Or, heck, even the turkey burger with cranberry-Blue Moon orange mayonnaise.
"We incorporated a lot of beers with some of our ingredients, just to put a twist on it," Pilz said. Offbeat cheese choices, he added, are another way of giving new life to burgers.
Radigan said finger foods are a good idea for the Super Bowl, and at the Pub at the Monte Carlo he’ll have stations offering everything from wings and sliders to bratwurst and hot dogs to cookies and brownies.
"You can always go with a theme, like all-American," Radigan said. He suggests that those throwing the party at home aim for multi-use foods to simplify things.
"If you make a batch of chili, have bowls of chili, nachos and chili-cheese dogs," he said. "One thing that knocks out three things."
"I think definitely hot dogs are a favorite, too," Baldwin said. "I think a Super Bowl food goes along with something you can hold in your hand, have a beer in one hand and something to eat in the other."
Radigan suggested sticking with spicy or salty foods. Because, you know, they complement beer.
"Of course you are going to want some more beer" after eating something spicy or salty, he said. "Then back to the food, back to the beer."
Meidenbauer is interested in how the war of the burgers will play out.
"We’ll see which one prevails on the field, and in the restaurant," he said. He favors the Giants.
"Only because I’m tired of New England winning. I just want to see a great game."
MANHATTAN CLAM CHOWDER
3 cups water
2 dozen cherrystone or littleneck clams, scrubbed (2 cups clam meat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces pancetta, sliced ½-inch thick and cut into ¼-inch dice
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1½ tablespoons Marsala wine (optional)
1 can (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, strained, juices reserved, tomatoes finely chopped
1 potato, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add clams, cover and cook until shells open, about 10 minutes. Transfer clams to a large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove meat from shells and return to bowl. Discard shells. Pour reserved liquid through a fine sieve lined with cheesecloth into a large bowl (you should have 2½ cups). Sprinkle a few tablespoons liquid over clams to keep them moist.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off excess drippings, leaving just enough to coat bottom of pot. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, celery, garlic and red-pepper flakes, and cook, scraping bottom of pot, until vegetables are light gold, about 7 minutes.
Raise heat to high, and stir in Marsala if desired. Add tomatoes, 1 cup reserved tomato juice, 2½ cups reserved clam broth and the potato. Reduce heat and simmer until potato is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Cut large clams in half. Stir clams, pancetta, parsley and oregano into broth and heat until warmed through, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Serves 8 to 10.
Notes: Some clams are naturally salty, so taste the soup before adding salt. The soup can be made a day in advance through step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Before serving, rewarm gently over low heat. Add the clams, pancetta and herbs and heat until warmed through.
— Recipe from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
NEW ENGLAND CLAM CHOWDER
8 pounds small quahogs or large cherrystone clams, scrubbed and rinsed, opened clams discarded
4 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
6 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
3 cups ½-inch cubed, peeled potatoes (about 1¼ pounds)
2 cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces (for garnish)
¼ cup minced parsley leaves (for garnish)
¼ cup finely chopped chives or green onions (for garnish)
In a large stockpot bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add clams; cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and quickly stir clams with a wooden spoon. Cover and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer (this will depend on the type and size of clams you are using), or until most of the clams are open.
Transfer the clams to a large bowl or baking dish and strain the broth twice through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, being careful to strain out the sand. (You should have about 6 cups of clam broth. If not, add enough water to bring the volume up to 6 cups.) When the clams are cool enough to handle, remove them from their shells and chop into ½-inch pieces. Set clams and broth aside.
In a large, heavy pot, cook the bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Pour off all bacon fat except 2 tablespoons. Add the butter, onions and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaves and cook until the vegetables are thoroughly wilted, about 3 minutes, being careful not to brown.
Add the potatoes and reserved clam broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the broth thickens slightly and the potatoes are very tender. (If you like a thicker broth, mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.) Remove from the heat, stir in clams and heavy cream and season with pepper and salt, if necessary.
Set aside for 1 hour, covered, to allow the flavors to marry. Place the pot over low heat and slowly reheat, being careful not to bring to boil. Serve hot, garnished with 1 or 2 pats of cold butter, parsley and chives.
Serves 6 to 8.
— Recipe from the Food Network
24 chicken wings
½ cup butter
1 cup Louisiana Brand hot sauce
Vegetable oil for frying
Cut tips off wings and discard. Cut remaining chicken wings in half at the joint. Deep fry them in about 2 inches of oil in skillet until done. Drain.
Melt butter and hot sauce together. Dip fried wings into the sauce. Serve with a blue cheese dip or dressing.
— Recipe from Epicurious
12 whole chicken wings
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 small clove garlic, minced
¼ cup hot sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1 inch of water in the bottom over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.
Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.
While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.
Remove the wings from the oven, transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.
Serves 4 as an appetizer.
— Recipe from the Food Network
CHICKEN WINGS IN PEANUT SAUCE
4 pounds chicken wings, halved at joint, tips removed if desired
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Pat wings dry and toss with oil, ginger and garlic. Arrange wings, thick-skin sides up, in 1 layer in a large shallow baking pan and roast in upper third of oven 25 minutes.
Turn on broiler and broil wings, turning once, until nicely browned and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
While wings are cooking, make sauce by whisking together ingredients in a large bowl until blended.
Add wings to sauce and toss until coated.
Serves 4 as a first course.
— Recipe from Gourmet magazine
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.