Under-$20 Super Bowl Chowdown, 10 Ways

Here’s the deal: You’ve got 20 bucks to spend on vittles for Sunday’s big game on the big screen. Not a penny more. Whatever you decide to spend on booze, that’s your business. But when it comes to the chow, we’re going to keep it a budget-style affair. After all, who’s not pinching pennies these days?

Sure, you can head over to KFC and pick up a 16-piece bucket for $20.99. And I hear Domino’s is offering its “American Legends” pies for $12.99. But honestly, how will your chow-in-a-box taste by the fourth quarter? That’s what I thought.

Instead, have a look at what I’ve cooked up – 10 menu ideas with a festive flair, a cozy television hootin-and-hollerin’ vibe --- and with that under-$20 price tag. Of course, if you're feeding 20 people Sunday night, your budget will double or triple, but you get the idea. Your budget-minded suggestions, as always, are welcome in the comments section, and I’ll be checking throughout the day for your last-minute questions and concerns. Now let’s play ball!

1. Instead of picking up the phone, pick up a ball of dough. Making your own pizza dough is incredibly gratifying, definitely not scary and a hoot to make with a group of your pals. As host, you can make a few batches of dough and a pot of marinara sauce; tell your friends to bring one topping of their choice and various kinds of cheese, and you’ll really bring the cost down. Estimate ½ pizza per person. Tip: Make dough on Saturday, keep in fridge overnight until Sunday afternoon when you’re ready to roll.

2. If you’ve been giving some thought to the falafel recipe I shared with you earlier this week, now’s the time to strike. On Saturday, make the tahini sauce and soak the beans. Sunday morning, put the batter dough and set up, and about an hour before kick off, you can fry the fritters and keep in a low oven until you’re ready to chow.

3. For a party of four or less, roasting a chicken is fun to snack on and requires little mental energy of the cook. Here are a slew of your chicken-y tricks and tips from last fall.

4. Shucks, for the big game, I might even fry up some thighs and finish them off in the oven. Marinate Saturday night in buttermilk, then fry early Sunday so it can rest -- fried chicken is undoubtedly tastier a few hours after it's cooled. Half-time snack, anyone? To cut the fat on your tongue, consider, this quickie vinegar slaw, a terrific side which you can whip up in about 20 minutes.

5. If it’s cold where you are, consider cozying up to some curry. As many of you know, one of my all-time favorites is a chicken curry with cilantro, ginger, garlic and chiles. A pot of rice to go with, and you’ll be warm all four quarters.

6. Talk about a cheap trick -- fried rice is the ultimate in the cheap-and-good department, and it requires little forethought, except for cooking a pot of rice the day before so that it’s cold (and starchy) in time for Sunday. Use whatever you have on hand – a shallot, an onion, garlic, chilies, plus one or two fried eggs. Ham if you like, no worries if you don’t. Peas are nice, so are mushrooms and chopped cilantro. One of my favorite bowls of comfort.

7. You can’t get much cozier than soup and grilled cheese. You can have soup on the stove all night and make the sandwiches to order. Have a look at last year’s list of 20 ways to soup it up without leaving the house. You'll have enough leftover cash to buy pickles and chips!

8. If it were up to Mister MA, there’d be a veggie snack plate on the menu. There’s nothing that makes him happier than a plate of dips and edible scoops. Go figure. He now knows how to make hummus and with a little more training, he’ll be whipping up onion dip, hold the soup mix, in no time. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warm place, where zucchinis are in season, you must celebrate with a batch of zuke-a-mole.

9. For those who like to get ahead of the program, consider a tray or two of lasagna, all of which can be made the day before and simply reheated in time for the game. Make one with meat, one without, and everyone’s happy.

10. Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention braised beans, i.e. vegetarian chili. Earlier this month, I shared the details for these red beans with a Jamaican jerk twist. Play with these or check out the other terrific ideas that your fellow readers have been kind enough to share. Definitely a do-ahead dish, and with all the extra time, why not make a quick batch of cornbread?

P.S.: Mighty Appetite correspondent Michael Corones threw an assist with this report.

Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups cornmeal, preferably whole grain, stone ground
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Method
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place butter in 9 or 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or baking dish) and heat in oven for about 10 minutes, or until butter just begins to smoke.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

In a large measuring cup, combine egg and buttermilk, whisking until blended.

Fold buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, and combine until well blended (but don't much worry much about flour specks).

Remove heated skillet from oven and pour melted butter into batter. Quickly stir to combine, then return batter to hot skillet. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Makes about eight slices.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 30, 2009; 4:00 AM ET Cooking on a Budget , Entertaining
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Comments

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I have a pizza suggestion with a little less work. (That and I'm not very good at rolling out dough.) In the Washington area, you can pick up some nice Afghan bread that makes a terrific base for pizza.

When making the pizza, I tend to put it in a warm oven to heat everything up and then run the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown the tops. Also, brush the bottoms with a little butter or vegetable oil so they get crispy.

Here are a few of our faves:

Blue cheese and carmelized onions. Slice a couple pounds of onion and cook down over butter with some brown sugar. Put on the crust and top with plenty of blue cheese (we like gorgonzola).

Margherita. Spread some marinara sauce and top with slices of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh basil.

Pepperoni and onions or black olives. Go with the classics.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 30, 2009 8:29 AM

An option for making something ahead of time with that pizza dough: stromboli. Good at room temp and can be sliced to make it finger food.

Also, I love a good pot of homemade baked beans. You can start it in the oven a 10am, and it'll be ready for kickoff.

Posted by: ArlingtonSMP | January 30, 2009 8:46 AM

Thanks for the cornbread recipe, Kim!

I like mine a little sweet but I never learned Mom or Grandma's recipe. I've been relying on Jiffy in a box.

Do you think I could add a little sugar to the recipe without messing up the texture too much?

Posted by: earlysun | January 30, 2009 8:52 AM

I'll be doing my Mom's chinese chicken wings. They take a couple hours and they're gone in now time, but I have friends who can't make the game who have asked if I could please save them a couple wings...

Bag or package of frozen or fresh wings, drumlets, etc.
Lay them out in one layer, with maybe some overlap in a large baking dish (I use glass)
Mix together maybe a cup of soy sauce or more with maybe half that much brown sugar, and I add a dash of lemon juice and some garlic powder. Pour over chicken, make sure every piece has received a first coating (Mom just chucks everything in the pan and gives it a hand-toss)
Stick in the oven at 250 and every 30 minutes, stir or turn the chicken so everything is coating.
In about 2.5hrs, the chicken will be dark brown and very sticky (do not mix with small children and light colored carpets)

How to eat (just as important): pick up a piece with thumb & first 2 fingers of one hand. Stick the chicken in your mouth and the chicken will fall off the bone with the slightest touch of tongue or teeth. Pull out stripped bone and use your clean hand to sip your beverage, high-five someone, etc.
Yum.

Posted by: capecodner424 | January 30, 2009 9:07 AM

Grilled cheese? fried rice? making your own pizza dough-FOR SUPER BOWL SNACKS? I DON'T THINK SO! I mean, most of these recipes would be great for some winter gathering-BUT NOT FOR SUPER BOWL-YOU NEED FINGER SNACKS-AND THERE ARE A LOT OF CREATIVE FINGER FOOD RECIPES-STARTING OUT WITH GOOD DIPS-LIKE HOT ARTICHOKE DIP, CHILLED SHRIMP WITH A GOOD HOME-MADE GARLIC DIP, AND FRESH VEGGIES TO MUNCH IN A MUSTARDY-WASABI DIP-LITTLE SANDWICHES FILLED WITH DIFFERENT SPREADS-AND MEATS-IF YOU WILL-

AND HOW ABOUT A BIG PLANK OF GRILLED SALMON-AND LETTING PEOPLE EAT ON THAT OR MAKE SANDWICHES?

YOUR FOOD OFFERINGS FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY DIDN'T MAKE THE MARK-I'M SORRY.

Posted by: arrabbiato | January 30, 2009 9:17 AM

I second capecodner424: wings! Not expensive, and many marinades and dipping sauce available. I prefer to cook mine under the broiler though for a quick crisping of the skin (20 to 30 minutes). Turn a few times. If they are made ahead they can be served cold, or kept warm in the oven.

Sylvie
http://www.LaughingDuckGardens.com/ldblog.php/

Posted by: rowandk | January 30, 2009 9:26 AM

Another take on chicken - deviled chicken drumsticks. This simple recipe from epicurious made with panko is terrific and they're great served at room temp: http://tinyurl.com/ajc5rr.

For pizza, here's no-knead pizza from Jim Lahey whose no-knead bread was viral (in a good way) a couple of years ago: http://tinyurl.com/9asrwe. I made some yesterday and it was the closest I've ever come thin crust pizzaria pizza. Crank your oven up to its highest temp. and use a stone. Mine was 550. I mixed the dough at 11 PM Wed. after I came across this article and prepared the dough balls for their 2 hr. rise at 4PM Thurs. Here's a video of Peter Reinhardt showing how to shape pizza dough:
http://tinyurl.com/agewbh


Posted by: fran426 | January 30, 2009 10:09 AM

Pizza is always a good idea for superbowl parties, but I do agree that more "finger food" is needed on this list.

And, what would a party be without chips and dips! Here are some good ones that were just posted - http://tinyurl.com/ckwzms

Posted by: godairyfree | January 30, 2009 10:56 AM

Arrabbiato - just in case you're unfamiliar with internet etiquette, typing in caps lock is generally regarded as shouting and a fairly rude way of communicating online. And I disagree - I think Kim's suggestions are great. We don't have to spend a ton to serve healthy, tasty food to our guests. Our friends are serving lasagna and salads on Sunday, and it'll be fantastic.

But I do have one finger foody suggestion using Kim's pizza dough recipe - breadsticks. After the dough has risen, roll it out into a rectangle and cut into strips. Place on a pan, brush with olive oil and then sprinkle with whatever you like - herbs, garlic powder, parm cheese, sea salt, etc. Let rise just a bit more and then bake til just golden (not crunchy). Dip in marinara or garlic butter and voila.

Posted by: PittsburghNonNative | January 30, 2009 11:00 AM

For sweets, try the Chocolate Rice Crispies recipe in the WaPo recipe index. My hints: If you don't have mini chocolate chips, regular ones are fine, even better if you use good ones. Melt the butter and cocoa and then the marshmallows on a fairly low temp to help prevent sticking; use a small oiled scoop if you have it, drop them all out and then form them up better by hand. I've brought them to parties and they were always a hit.

Posted by: fran426 | January 30, 2009 11:13 AM

We have a tradition of jambalaya for the Superbowl, in part because it's easy to make ahead. I bet I do it for under $20 because I usually am only serving 4 people, and that means little bits of chicken, a sausage, maybe 1/2 pound of shrimp, plus rice and veggies. Mmmmm. The cornbread looks pretty good, too. Being a northerner, I do like mine a little bit sweet, but I dig the buttermilk.
Kim in Nebraska

Posted by: khachiya1 | January 30, 2009 11:15 AM

So after we agreed that KFC and Domino's wouldn't cut it, two of the first four recipes are chicken and pizza?

Anyway, the food looks good, but since the Super Bowl is a celebration of excessive machismo, I'll go along with it by eating unhealthy restaurant food and eschew the fancy cooking.

Posted by: esocci | January 30, 2009 12:36 PM

Thanks for the ideas Kim. I was actually thinking of making that Orange-Soy Braised Pork Ribs recipe that you provided a couple of year back in your chat. It was a variation on a recipe from Gourmet and has been a big hit at more than one Super Bowl party.

I was wondering if it could be modified to cook in a crock pot, rather than in the oven. Do you (or any of the posters) have any suggestions about converting a recipe from oven to crock pot? It is supposed to braise in the oven at 325 for 2 hours (or longer if needed).
Thanks!

Posted by: leocook | January 30, 2009 3:27 PM

For those interested, link below is for the Orange-Soy Braised Pork Ribs that leocook mentioned. With little slow cooker experience, I'm going to defer to those more experienced, but I would venture to say it can be done.

http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A18280

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | January 30, 2009 3:49 PM

HEY PITTSBURGH NATIVE-I REALLY DON'T CARE WHETHER OR NOT I DON'T "GO ALONG WITH THE CROWD" AS IT WERE-KIM'S SUGGESTIONS FOR SUPER BOWL FOOD ARE NOT GOOD ONES-NOBODY I KNOW WOULD THINK-MUCH LESS SERVE GRILLED CHEESE AND FRIED RICE FOR SUPER BOWL SUNDAY-COME ON! THAT'S IDIOTIC!

AND SO BORING, KIM! SHRIMP IS NOT EXPENSIVE, NEITHER IS A BIG PLANK OF SALMON-BUT I GUESS YOU'RE NOT CREATIVE ENOUGH TO THINK OUTSIDE THE PIZZA AND CHICKEN WINGS BOX, EH?

Posted by: arrabbiato | January 30, 2009 5:28 PM

I nominate this cooking instruction to the Rachel Ray Hall of Huh? "Remove heated skillet from oven and pour melted butter into batter. Quickly stir to combine, then return batter to hot skillet. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes." The batter was never in the hot skillet so how could it be returned? I know, I know... just eyeball it with a good dose of EVOO. Still, sounds really deelish!

Posted by: markmsanto | January 31, 2009 12:03 AM

Markmsanto, read the recipe again. The instructions are intact. And by the way, it's Rachael.

Posted by: Kim ODonnel | January 31, 2009 2:17 AM

For crying out loud, arrabiato, turn off the caps lock key already. If you don't think Kim has some creative ideas, you haven't been reading. If you're using wild caught salmon, you've blown way past the $20 barrier. A couple pounds of shrimp is going to come pretty close to the edge as well. I'm a fan of the Carolina head-ons. The heads and shells make a great stock.

For a nice variation on buffalo wings, I recommend buffalo shrimp. They're good if pan fried, though delicious when deep fried. Some blue cheese dip, plenty of veggies, and you've got yourself a partay!

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 31, 2009 12:22 PM

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