Steven Raichlen’s best Super Bowl dishes

When looking for a mouthwatering and crowd-pleasing recipe for Super Bowl Sunday, we know who to ask–Steven Raichlen’s crew. We asked Steven’s friend and fearless winter griller Nancy Loseke to share some of her most memorable Super Bowl dishes and recipes in anticipation of this weekend’s game.

If you are hosting a party this Sunday celebrating that unique fusion of football and food known as the Super Bowl, there’s someone I’d like to introduce you to: my friend, Steven Raichlen—grillmaster extraordinaire, author, and the host of “Primal Grill” on PBS.

Steven’s encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s grilling traditions is unparalleled. His iconic Barbecue Bible series of books (over 4 million copies sold) has been translated into 15 languages.

For years, Steven’s been a constant—albeit a virtual one—at my Super Bowl parties, deftly guiding my menu choices, refining my grilling techniques, and ensuring my guests have a great experience regardless of who wins the game…or the betting pool. (Am not sure why, but I have never been able to convince him to travel in early February from toasty Miami, Florida, to snowy northern Ohio.)

People are still talking about the party in 2006—Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks—that featured Steven’s fabulous Smoky Mac ‘n’ Cheese and several iterations of ribs. (At the time, Steven and I were furiously testing recipes for Raichlen on Ribs, which was released by Workman Publishing that spring.) Pulled pork reigned in 2009.

Last year—Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New Orleans Saints—Steven’s Cajun Wings stole the show.

What a privilege it’s been to have him and his extraordinary expertise on my “team” come Super Bowl Sunday. And now, for less than half what you’d pay for a beer at Cowboys Stadium February 6, you can recruit Steven, too: Download Raichlen’s TAILGATING: 31 Righteous Recipes for On-the-Go Grilling (Workman, 2011) on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or even a computer armed with e-book reading capability.

In this convenient e-book, Steven has consolidated his favorite tailgating tips and recipes. He astutely recommends, for example, building your game day menu around “a large hunk of meat that serves lots of people but needs relatively little tending”. His Bratwurst “Hot Tub” will make Packers fans smile. Steelers fans will love Steven’s riff on “The Great American Hamburger”.

And not even the staunchest gridiron partisans will turn down Smoked Chicken Quesadillas with Cilantro and Pepper Jack Cheese (recipe below). Poppers. Wings. Dagwoods. All there, from appetizers to desserts.

The clock’s ticking…the party’s this weekend. Be on the winning team. Download Raichlen’s TAILGATING: 31 Righteous Recipes for On-the-Go Grilling today from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Smoked Chicken Quesadillas with Cilantro and Pepper Jack Cheese
Makes 4 quesadillas, can be multiplied as needed

Method: Direct grilling
Cooking time: 2 to 6 minutes
Advance preparation: You can assemble the quesadillas up to 30 minutes ahead, but you don’t need to. The whole point of a quesadilla is its speed and spontaneity.

Quesadillas are often described as Mexican grilled cheese sandwiches, but the truth is that most Mexicans cook quesadillas by deep-frying or pan-frying them. So leave the grilling to us. Like so much in our food culture, we Americans not only embrace the specialties of our neighbors and immigrants, we make them our own. These quesadillas explode with barbecue flavor—from the smoked chicken, from the pepper Jack cheese, and of course, from charring the quesadillas on the grill. The pico de gallo salsa is optional.

4 large (8 to 10 inches) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded smoked chicken
2 cups shredded cheese (I like a half-and-half mixture of pepper Jack cheese and sharp cheddar)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and finely chopped
2 fresh or pickled jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter (either salted or unsalted is OK), melted
Pico de Gallo (optional, recipe follows)

1. Place a tortilla on a work surface. Sprinkle one half of the tortilla with a quarter of the chicken, cheese, cilantro, scallions, and jalapeños. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the top to make a half-moon shaped quesadilla. Assemble the remaining quesadillas the same way. Lightly brush both sides of each quesadilla with the butter, turning them carefully. The quesadillas can be prepared to this stage up to 30 minutes ahead.
2. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to medium-high.
3. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate well. Arrange the quesadillas on the hot grate and grill them until the bottoms are golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Using a spatula, turn the quesadillas and grill the second side until the cheese is melted, 1 to 3 minutes. Keep an eye on the quesadillas—they burn easily. Serve the quesadillas at once, with the pico de gallo on the side, if desired.

Pico de Gallo
Literally translated as rooster beak, pico de gallo is the most basic Mexican salsa, found in one version or other from Sonora to Chiapas. Perhaps the salsa takes its name from its pugnacious bite. Because there’s no cooking, this salsa lives or dies by the quality of the raw materials—for example tomatoes so luscious and ripe, they go splat if they fall off the worktable.

Makes about 1½ cups

1 large or 2 medium-size luscious, red ripe tomatoes, diced
½ medium-size Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely diced
1 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely diced (for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds in)
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste

Combine the tomato(es), onion, jalapeño(s), cilantro, and lime juice in a mixing bowl and gently stir to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice as necessary. You can chop the ingredients ahead of time but the salsa tastes best mixed within 15 minutes of serving. The salsa will be quite moist.

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