In the Zone: Building your Super Bowl Spread

Super Bowl Sunday is coming and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m really looking forward to it, like I do to Thanksgiving: the excitement leading up to the big day, the rivalries, the halftime show (Maroon 5!), and of course, all of the food! One year, when I hosted a Super Bowl get-together at Strayland, my pal and co-anchor Robin Roberts had gumbo delivered all the way from Mary Mahoney’s Old French House, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now, that’s a hard act to follow, for sure, which is why I’m pulling out the stops this year. Typically, my rule of thumb for a super Super Bowl spread is barbecue party food, but the key always is really good nachos. It’s the Super Bowl, right? It’s all about going big or going home. So, who else would I turn to for help in the kitchen than my friend Snoop Dogg, who shared some recipes from his new cookbook From Crook to Cook that’ll make this weekend blazin’. (Sidebar: Snoop is a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan and although the Steelers aren’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, he understands the importance of making game day a big celebration.)

Squad Up Chili Cheese Fries
Serves 8 to 12

For the fries
4 medium Russet potatoes (about 3 lbs.), peeled and cut lengthwise into ½-inch sticks
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 tsp. smoked paprika
Cracked black pepper

For the chili
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lb. ground beef
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1½ cups beef stock or broth
1 can (15 oz.) kidney or navy beans, drained and rinsed
Cracked black pepper
3 cups shredded Cheddar or American cheese

Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, with a rack in the middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. 2. Place the potato sticks in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and drain completely; repeat twice more. Spread the potato sticks on a bed of paper towels and pat dry; dry the bowl as well. Return the potato sticks to the bowl. Add the vegetable oil and 3 teaspoons of paprika. Toss to combine and coat the potatoes in the oil and spice. Spread the potato sticks evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. 3. Place the sheet in the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, tossing and flipping the fries once halfway through the baking time to ensure even cooking, until golden brown, crisp, and tender. 4. While the fries bake, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Add the ground beef. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring to break up the meat, until no longer pink. Add the chili powder, flour, oregano, and cumin. Cook for 1 minute, stirring. 5. Pour in the beef stock and add the beans. Bring the chili to a boil. Adjust the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove the chili from the heat and season with salt and pepper. 6. When the fries are ready, remove them from the oven, but leave the oven on. Spoon the chili evenly over the fries on the baking sheet. Scatter the cheese over the chili. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of paprika over the cheese. 7. Return the fries to the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling. 8. Remove the fries from the oven and serve immediately.

Suited and Booted Loaded Nachos
Serves 6 to 8

For the nachos
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 bag (13 oz.) tortilla chips
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

For the topping
2 avocados
Juice of 1 lime
Cracked black pepper
¼ cup sour cream
1 medium tomato, diced
Fresh cilantro, for garnishing
Sliced scallions, for garnishing

Directions: 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the upper third position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. 2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil. Swirl the skillet to cover the bottom completely. When the skillet is hot, add the ground beef, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the meat, until the beef is completely browned. Taste and adjust for the seasonings, if necessary. Drain and discard any excess grease. Transfer the beef to a large bowl, cover, and set aside. 3. Place the tortilla chips in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Top the chips evenly with the ground beef. Top the beef with the corn, black beans, jalapeño, and cheeses. 4. Place the chips in the oven and bake for 6 to 7 minutes until the cheeses are completely melted. 5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mash the avocados with the lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper, as needed. 6. Remove the chips from the oven and top with the mashed avocado, sour cream, and tomato. Sprinkle on the cilantro and scallions. Serve warm.