The Pittsburgh Steelers clinching a berth in yet another Super Bowl is as expected among the Steeler Nation as french fries on top of a Primanti Brothers sandwich. Turns out, some of yinz are equally old-school when it comes to planning your black & gold tailgates.
Last week in this section, we offered a new take on a few football favorites for your AFC Championship party ["Here we go munchers, here we go!," Jan. 20]. And while many of you thought the recipes for fresh pineapple and avocado-tomatillo salsa sounded yummy, it didn't go over so well with a couple of diehards.
"A little too foo foo for Steelers fans, don't ya think?" e-mailed Ed Varhola, a Munhall native and Pitt grad who now lives in Overland Park, Kan. "How about beer cheese, beer bread, hard pretzels and mustard? And for the main course, kielbasi and sauerkraut, halupki and halushki. Now we are talking Steelers football.
"You know how superstitious we are," he added. "Change the menu now? Scary. I will keep your article and make them for week one next year and then they will be in the lineup all year."
Another reader wrote: "Really? Pineapple salsa in Pittsburgh in January. Avocado Salsa. Not really a Pittsburgh winter menu. Not really a football food (or a football fan food)."
We respectfully disagree. According to the Hass Avocado Board, football fans (Pittsburgh included) are expected to scarf an estimated 69.9 million pounds of avocado before and during the big game -- or enough to bury Dallas' Cowboys Stadium, end zone to end zone, 26.9 feet deep in avocados. Betcha most of it turns up in guacamole in one form or another; we thought the spicy kick of tomatillo would make that classic appetizer more interesting.
And while one reader wrote that she and her men would rather have pierogies, we LOVED the Shrimp Pot Stickers with Sriracha-Ginger Dipping Sauce.
Here's a pair of meaty playoff foods that you might want to practice and serve Feb. 6.
Next week, just before the Steelers take on the Packers, we'll have a few more Super Bowl-worthy recipes, including the dish a local chef will prepare as the Steelers' representative during the Taste of the NFL event on the eve of the big game. Meet him and his gnocchi on video, too.
Slow-Cooker Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
Can't imagine watching football without a bowl of buffalo chicken dip bubbling on the coffee table? This slow-cooker chicken dish offers the same great taste but with so many fewer calories. Leftovers, if you have any, can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or stored in the freezer for 3 months. To shred the chicken, use 2 forks or a potato masher.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
- 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/3 cup hot pepper sauce, such as Frank's, or more to taste
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
- 8 hamburger buns
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring once, until meat is golden brown, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a slow cooker, leaving as much oil behind as possible. Repeat with chicken breasts.
To skillet, add onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from skillet, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to slow cooker.
To slow cooker, add crushed tomatoes, hot pepper sauce, Worchestershire, mustard and molasses. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high until chicken is very tender, 4 hours. Shred chicken and season to taste wtih salt and pepper. Serve on buns.
-- Martha Stewart's "Everyday Food," Jan./Feb. 2011
Chopped Steak Sandwiches
A "real" Philly cheesesteak involves paper-thin sliced steak and Cheez Whiz. This version calls for chopped sirloin (pulse it in a food processor) cooked with onion and mushroom in tangy ketchup mixture, and shredded sharp cheddar. Good? My husband, who grew up in Philadelphia, declared it one of the best sandwiches he's ever eaten.
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 jarred hot cherry pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 pound beef sirloin tips, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms (2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 4 long rolls, split and lightly toasted
- 1 1/2 ounces baby arugula
Mix the ketchup, mustard, cherry pepper and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside.
In a food processor, pulse half of the beef until just coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining beef. Toss the beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses most of its raw color, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in the pan. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until beginning to soft and brown, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring often, until they soften and begin to release their juice, about 2 minutes.
Stir in ketchup mixture and beef and any accumulated juices. Cook, stirring often, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cheese until melted, about another 1 minute.
Split the rolls almost through lengthwise and pile on the steak and arugula. Cut the sandwiches in half and serve.
-- "Fine Cooking Tailgating" (Taunton, 2010, $9.99)
• But wait; there's more. Super recipes for your football viewing needs continue next week.
Gretchen McKay: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1419. First Published January 27, 2011 5:00 AM