Today, we know something about Super Bowl XLVIII that we didn't know when preseason games started way back in August. We know that crab and beer need to be on the menu because the Seattle Seahawks will be playing the Denver Broncos in Sunday's game. (6:30 p.m. kickoff, Fox, from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.)
Beer? When isn't beer on a football party menu?
Yeah, it's there for drinking, but since Denver is one of the nation's hot spots for microbreweries, and home to the annual Great American Beer Festival (Oct. 2-4), think about adding beer to food. (Seattle's no slouch in the microbrew arena either.)
So to satisfy the beer requirement, we recommend Beer Dip. And if you can't get your hands on Dale's Pale Ale, brewed in Longmont not far from Denver, go for another mild beer. I like Rolling Rock, but to salute the growing Tampa Bay craft beer movement, make the herby dip with Cigar City Brewing's Invasion Pale Ale.
So beer, check.
Now the crab. Seattle, like San Francisco, whom the Seahawks beat for the Super Bowl berth, is known for its Dungeness crab. The sweet meat is typically pried from the shell, dragged through melted butter and devoured. Alaskan king crab is on plenty of Seattle menus, too.
A great way to stretch expensive crab for a party crowd is to incorporate it into dip. In fact, dip is a required offering at any party, football-centric or not. Today, we recommend several dip recipes that will work as totable potluck contributions or as yet another dish on your own party table.
Dips can be made in advance. Even hot dips can be assembled a day ahead and baked just before guests arrived. Make sure you bring ice-cold glass baking dishes to room temperature before putting into a hot oven or you'll risk cracks or worse.
We won't be so picky about what crab is headed for our dip. At Christmas, I used some expensive lump crab for a hot dip that got great praise all around. It also set me back about $60 at the fish market. Well, it was the holidays.
I've had good luck with pasteurized crabmeat purchased at the seafood counter at the grocery store. Again, I let my wallet guide me. If I am flush, I go for the most lump meat, and mix with claw or backfin.
You can use canned crabmeat, too. I find this the least satisfying because the meat itself breaks apart and becomes almost like canned tuna. Whatever kind you use, mix it gently to keep the meat in pieces as big as possible.
Crackers and other salty, sturdy dippers, like pita and bagel chips, are good with hot dips. But don't forget the crudites: Cold, fresh and crunchy vegetables are always welcome on a party menu that trends toward over-the-top.
Crab not on the budget? Consider Loaded Baked Potato Dip, for which the potato comes from the chips; there are no spuds in the mixture. Another party favorite no matter what teams are in the Super Bowl is Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip. (It would certainly be perfect if the Buffalo Bills could ever make it to the big show.) This dip pulls together all the flavors of wings without the mess of the bones. Ice-cold celery and sturdy crackers are great dippers.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] Follow @RoadEats on Twitter.