(credit: Christine Hinrichs)

By Christine Hinrichs

After months of TV watching, countless cheers and upsets, and numerous football parties, the Super Bowl is finally here. And with the Patriots and the Giants meeting for their second Super Bowl matchup in the last few years, it’s sure to be a great game. I enjoy having Super Bowl parties, but what I really love is creating theme recipes. Here are two recipes, one for New York fans and one for Patriots fans, and both are easy to put together and are sure to impress your guests.
New York Pretzel Bites with Spicy Cheese Sauce
(makes about 100 small pretzel bites)
adapted from Alton Brown

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Ingredients (pretzel bites):

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  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Coarse salt or pretzel salt
  • Cooking spray
    Ingredients (cheese sauce):

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    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups half and half
    • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
    • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
      In a large bowl, combine the lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Wait until the yeast mixture starts to foam, about 5 minutes. Then add the flour and melted butter and stir to combine as best you can. The dough will be firm, so use some muscle. Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead it until smooth, about 5 minutes. Spray the bowl lightly with cooking spray, then return the dough to the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen and let the dough rise for about an hour.

      Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper, and spray the paper lightly with cooking spray. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

      In a large pot, combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda. Heat on high – you’ll need the water to be at a boil once you’re done working with the dough. Once the dough has risen, combine the 10 cups of water and baking soda in a large pot. Heat on high, and then turn back to the dough. Punch it down and divide it into 8 equal pieces (a pizza cutter works well for this). Roll out each piece into an 18-inch rope. Then using the pizza cutter, cut each rope into 1-inch squares of dough.

      Once your water mixture has come to a boil add the dough pieces in batches – 12-14 – and leave them in the boiling water for about 15 seconds. Fish them out using a slotted spoon and place on the baking sheets lined with parchment. Continue until all of the dough pieces have been in the baking-soda bath.

      Arrange the dough on the pans so there is space between each piece. Using a pastry brush, brush each dough bite with the egg wash. Then sprinkle the dough with salt to your liking. Bake the pretzel bites for about 14 minutes. Let cool for about five minutes before serving.

      In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk to combine for about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and slowly whisk in the half and half. Return the pan to medium-low heat and slowly add the cheese, jalapeño, and spices, whisking in a figure-8 pattern. Once the cheese has just melted, remove from heat.

      Keep the cheese sauce in a microwave-safe container so it can be reheated as needed. Serve alongside the pretzel bites.
      Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets, and reads cookbooks before bed. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.

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