If Nate Silver says it, it has to be true, right? So get ready to pop the bubbly--champagne, beer, or whatever fizz you fancy--because according to the ace statistician, our hometown team's cute foodie nicknames (King Crab!), smooching fans, and yes, superior defense will put them over the top against the Ravens this Sunday.
There are plenty of red-and-gold snacks and treats to munch on while you're waiting for the big guys in the shiny pants to clinch their victory. And since the game is being played in New Orleans, who could miss an opportunity to dig into some delicious eats from the Big Easy, especially since Mardi Gras is just around the corner?
Not that root vegetables are ever going to muscle out the chips, dip, and chili, but still, a red-and-gold beet salad makes a thematically perfect (and healthy) addition to this year's Super Bowl spread, with no food coloring required. You can make the sauce for barbecued New Orleans style shrimp ahead of time, then simmer the shrimp in its spicy, tongue-tingling bath just in time for half time, amid what promises to be much speculation about Beyonce's performance. Will she be singing, or just singing along? And of course, since both San Francisco and Baltimore are crab-lovin' towns (blues on the East Coast, Dungeness on the West), you've got to have some crab on the menu: crab Louie, crab cakes, or even just some long tall Alaskan king crab legs dunked in butter in honor of wide receiver Michael Crabtree, the King Crab himself.
As for dessert, while we're hoping someone brings a king cake studded inside with tiny plastic footballs and topped with red and gold sugar, we'll also be happy with a fat wedge of this boozy Bourbon Street Chocolate Cake. (Sorry, Mayor Lee! We'll lick up our crumbs responsibly, we promise!) The Ravens fans among us can wallow in the fudgy bliss of some straight-from-Bal'mor Berger Cookies, washed down with a can (or three) of Natty Boh.
49er Red and Gold Salad
With a dressing of citrus, olive oil, and pomegranate bathing locally grown beets, this is a very California dish. Look for beets that are red rather than deep purple/magenta for the most authentic look.
1 bunch red beets
1 bunch gold beets
3 oranges, preferably blood oranges
1 Meyer lemon
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil, or to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper
Seeds of 1 pomegranate, optional
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Rinse beets and trim off stems, reserving leaves. Place beets in two separate shallow baking pans--red ones in one pan, gold in another. Add a couple tablespoons of water to each pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
2. Bake until beets are tender and cooked all the way through, about 45-60 minutes, depending on size of beets. Remove from oven, remove foil and let cool. When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off skins. Cut into wedges, again keeping colors separate, and set aside in two bowls.
3. In a medium bowl, grate the rind of 1 blood orange and 1 lemon. Squeeze juice from the orange and lemon into the bowl. Whisk in shallot, pomegranate molasses, salt, pepper, and olive oil to taste--because beets are naturally sweet, you want to keep the dressing on the tarter side.
4. Drizzle dressing over bowls of beets, tossing to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
5. While beets are marinating, wilt beet greens in a spoonful of olive oil in a hot frying pan, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool. When cool, chop roughly.
6. Peel and slice remaining 2 oranges. To serve, spread beet greens over a platter. Arrange beet wedges in piles or stripes, keeping colors separate so they don't bleed. Tuck orange slices around the beets and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, if using, and parsley. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the salad and serve.
Lip-Smacking, Lip-Synching Halftime Barbecued Shrimp
This is one of the best ways I know to eat shrimp, marinated and smothered in a fiery, sweet-spicy sauce that begs to be sopped up with a big loaf of hot French bread. This dish, which blends something like barbecue sauce with the more typical New Orleans mixture of butter, garlic, herbs, and Worcestershire, French garlic butter, comes from a little spiral-bound cookbook of New Orleans specialties that my mother picked up during a visit to the Big Easy back in the 1980s. It's been a family favorite ever since.
For the sauce:
1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce, such as Heinz's
2 lemons, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tbs butter
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 - 2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce, or to taste
2 lb raw shrimp, peeled but tails left on
2 Tbs chopped parsley
Sweet baguettes, warmed
1. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a deep saucepan. Over low heat, cook until the butter is melted and the mixture is just beginning to simmer. Let cool, then pour over peeled shrimp in a deep bowl. Cover and refrigerate for several hours.
2. Pour back in a wide saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring, until shrimp are just pink and opaque. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve in wide bowls with warm bread on the side.
Bourbon Street Chocolate Cake
5 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate
1 cup really strong coffee
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup bourbon, plus 2 tablespoons' more for sprinkling
1 cup dark or white chocolate chips, optional
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
1. Grease and flour a 10-cup-capacity Bundt or tube pan. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate with coffee and cocoa powder. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Sift flour with baking soda and salt. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, orange rind, and melted chocolate mixture, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.
5. Beat in a third of the bourbon. When liquid is absorbed, fold in half the flour mixture. Repeat with a third of whiskey mixture, followed by remaining cup of flour. Add the last of the whiskey, folding gently just until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chips, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.
6. Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes. Sprinkle warm cake with about 2 tablespoons more bourbon. Let cool, then sift over confectioners’ sugar before serving.