January 24, 2011

Island Cooking: A filling Super Bowl feast


During an unusually cold winter, with not one single “T-shirt day” thrown in, we are in need of hearty warming food. 

The upcoming Super Bowl provides the excuse for an easy but filling feast.

I admit to not being the least bit interested in the Super Bowl or any other football game, but I recognize what a big deal it is and know that it is a good excuse for an informal gathering. 

And gatherings mean food!  In this case, not delicate, light offerings.

Chili is a common selection and for good reason, but this year, let’s go for another option and cook up a big pot of satisfying Ale Braised Sausages for a change.  This dish pairs well with beer but you may want to serve the same ale that you are using in the dish. 


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds cooked sausages, such as kielbasa, sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup ale
1/2 cup apple cider
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (if using dried cut the amount in 1/2)
1 1/2 cups beef broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mashed Potatoes   (You can cheat since, much to my surprise, the ready made mashed potatoes in the refrigerated section in the markets are very good and takes a lot less time and effort - a plus at Super Bowl time.)

Warm the olive oil in a Dutch oven set on medium high on the stovetop.

Add the sausages and cook, stirring and turning often, until browned, about 4-5 minutes.

Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot, turn down the heat to medium, and sautè until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. 

Add the flour a little at a time and cook, stirring, until golden, 1-2 minutes. 

Whisk in the ale and cider until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.  Add the thyme and the broth, whisking in to blend, and bring to a simmer.

Return the sausages to the pot.  Cover.  Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes.

Uncover and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with mashed potatoes.

Of course, you will need plenty of snacks, so I suggest you try Forrest Paddock’s spicy mix.  The saltiness and spices make it irresistible and great with beer and ale.  It can be made a few days in advance, which is one less thing to worry about that day.


1 small box Corn Chex
1 small box Wheat Chex
1 small box Rice Chex
1 medium bag thin pretzels
1 can salted peanuts
1 can salted mixed nuts
1 can whole almonds
1 cup corn oil or olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup garlic salt
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

Toss everything together making sure the spices and oil are evenly distributed.  Spread in a baking pan and bake at 250˚ for 45 minutes to an hour.  Stir every 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.

We all love spinach-artichoke dip.  This recipe is chunky and rich with fresh spinach, canned or frozen artichoke hearts, and especially with lots of cheese. 

Instead of crackers, why not use warm sliced bread?  I like to serve it with the thin baguettes found in the markets but it is great too with chewy country breads as well as flat breads.  You can even serve with chips and salsa.  It is also a make-ahead dish, leaving you with little to do but warm it before serving.


Kosher salt
2 (10 ounce) bags spinach, stems removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 cup frozen or canned artichoke hearts, thawed if frozen, squeezed dry and roughly chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and stir in the spinach.  Cook about 30 seconds until bright green.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Squeeze out excess water and roughly chop.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion is soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute. 

Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened.  Remove from heat.

Stir in the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan and sour cream.

Return the pot to medium heat.  Add the spinach, cheddar and artichokes and stir until cheese melts and dip is heated throughout.

Serve warm.  If you make it in advance, store in the fridge.  It can be reheated in the microwave.

For winter televised athletic events or a great movie, these foods are satisfying, easy to prepare and serve and keep you out of the kitchen and in front of the TV with your family and friends.  So, make them a part of your kitchen repertoire and see how much you and your guests enjoy them.

 Comments are always welcomed!

     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.