If you are hosting any armchair quarterbacks this year for the big game, make it easy on yourself. Serve the usual munchies, then when halftime comes and everyone’s ready for major chow, score points with something hearty that can be served in bowls. Choose your playing field, too: One is made on the stove, one uses a slow cooker and one just needs a microwave. These one-dish wonders save time and dishes; they are compatible with beer and soft drinks, too. Some crusty bread and perhaps salad and fruit are all you need on the sidelines. Score another touchdown for the cook!
Smoky pork stew
Ancho chilies and smoky chipotles flavor this savory stew. Following is the long version, using dried beans and chilies that require soaking overnight and separate cooking. If you have time, you can prepare quite a bit the day before. If you don’t have time, just use canned black beans and chilies on game day. Serve with rice, warm flour tortillas or crusty bread. Recipe from “Soups &Stews” by Food and Wine Books; makes 6 servings.
1/2 pound (about 1 cup) dried black beans (or 2 cans prepared black beans, rinsed)
6 cloves garlic, 1 left whole, 5 minced
1 meaty smoked ham hock (about 3/4 pound)
2 1/2 quarts water (omit if using canned beans)
3 dried ancho chilies
1 dried or canned chipotle chili
2 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 onion, minced
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcester-shire sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 bay leaves
2 cups canned yellow or white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 green onions, including tops, cut into thin slices
Soak beans overnight in enough cold water to cover by at least 2 inches; drain. In a medium saucepan, combine beans with the whole garlic clove, ham hock and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 1 hour. (If using canned beans, combine beans with garlic and ham hock in the saucepan, add just a little water, then simmer.) In a separate small pan, boil 3 cups water. Soak dried chilies in boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes; reserve 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid. Stem and seed chilies. Puree in blender with reserved liquid and strain into a small bowl. In a large cooking pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add a third of the pork; brown well on all sides (about 8 minutes) and remove. Repeat with remaining meat in two more batches, adding more oil if needed. Reduce heat to medium low. Add minced garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in cumin, cinnamon and thyme; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups water, pureed chilies, pork, tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, bay leaves and hominy. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce heat, cook at a bare simmer, partially covered, until pork is tender, about 2 hours. Remove bay leaves. Drain beans. When ham hock is cool enough to handle, pull meat from bone and cut into small pieces. Add beans and ham to pork and heat through. Just before serving, stir in cilantro and green onions.
A hearty, solid soup that pairs beautifully with beer or a dry white wine. Best of all, you make it in a slow cooker. If you don’t have one, you can use a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 350 F until flavors meld. Adapted from “Low, Slow, Delicious” by Martha Lomask; makes 4 to 6 servings.
13- to 15-ounce can cannellini beans
14-ounce can Italian peeled tomatoes
6 to 8 ounces smoked German sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 pint chicken stock or broth
Salt and pepper
Preheat electric slow cooker on high for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy frying pan; saute onion until limp and golden but not brown. Stir in flour; cook and stir until combined. Add stock and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Add beans and sausage, put all into slow cooker and cover. Cook on high for 30 minutes, then on low for 6 to 8 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with bread, cheeses and fruit, if desired.
Spicy shrimp and rice stew
You don’t even need the stove for this one. It’s a quick microwave entree that’s ready in about 25 minutes. Recipe from “One Dish Meals the Easy Way” from Reader’s Digest Books; makes 4 servings.
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 small sweet green pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes with their juice
1 cup chicken stock or broth
10 ounces frozen sliced okra, unthawed
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup quick-cooking white rice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Mix onion, green pepper, garlic and oil in an ungreased 2 1/2 quart microwaveable casserole. Cover with lid; microwave on high for 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is glassy, stirring midway. Break up tomatoes with a fork; stir into casserole along with stock, okra, red pepper sauce and oregano. Cover and microwave on high for 12 minutes or until okra is tender, stirring every 4 minutes. Add shrimp, cover and microwave on high until shrimp are cooked through, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Add rice; stir until all grains are well moistened. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Let covered casserole stand in turned-off microwave for 3 minutes, then stir in parsley and lemon. Serve hot.