When I told my children I was writing this week about a Taco Bar Super Bowl Party, one of my daughter-in-laws quipped “you mean the Puppy Bowl?” Like my daughter-in-law, the only interests I really have in the Super Bowl are the commercials and the Puppy Bowl, but that hasn’t stopped me from throwing and attending many Super Bowl parties in the past. Any excuse for a party and I’m with you!
I decided if I was going to write a column on a Super Bowl party, I should probably know a few things about it — like who is playing and where. While searching for this valuable information, I ran across the price of a ticket! Who has that kind of money to watch a football game? The tickets are more than a monthly mortgage payment and they’re sold out! I just don’t understand the fascination our culture has with watching people chase balls around.
Anyway — back to the party. One of the things I’ve always loved about a Super Bowl party is that you don’t have to worry about keeping your guests entertained for hours. Those men chasing the ball will do that for you. The only real challenge is keeping up with the food and drinks for such a long period of time. That’s why I think a taco bar is a perfect option. You can prepare most of it in advance, set it out and just let everyone nibble all night long. Add some tortilla chips and a variety of salsas around the room and you can just sit back and enjoy the game.
Tacos have taken on a whole new definition in the past decade. The fillings have expanded from ground beef to fish, pork belly and high-priced cuts of meats. The once hard shell now shares the spotlight with the soft shell (tortilla) in a variety of different grains, just like our breads. Celebrity chefs have elevated the simple taco to a gourmet experience. Young families have Taco Tuesdays, and Pinterest has a thousand boards of recipes just for Taco Tuesday. Much different from the days when Mama bought a “taco kit” from the grocery store for a quick meal.
With all the different taco recipes available at your fingertips, the really hard part about planning a taco bar might be narrowing it down to a few options. I would suggest you shoot for three proteins, a couple of good salsas, six to eight fresh toppings and an assortment of soft shell tortillas. Finish it off with a good pitcher of margaritas and good selection of cervezas (Spanish beer) and you’re assured to bowing and thanking your team mates for making you queen of the Super Bowl party. Watch out for that cooler full of iced Gatorade though.
Here are some suggestions to get your wheels turning. While the salsas are paired with particular tacos, they can be used across the board with any proteins. Just let your guest’s imagination run wild!
Teri Bell is co-owner of Miss Sophie’s Marketplace at the Mighty Eighth in Pooler. Go to www.sophiesmarketplace.com.
Caramelized Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
For the pork:
• 1 pound pork loin, cut into thin one-inch strips
• 1 small onion, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced
• 2 teaspoons fish sauce
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons water
1. In a separate bowl, mix together onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fish sauce; then, add pork strips. Stir and coat pork evenly.
2. Heat cast iron pan over medium-high heat, and add oil to the pan.
3. Add pork strips to skillet and cook, for about 10 minutes. Add sugar and water, stirring constantly until sugars caramelize and turn golden brown.
• 1 fresh, ripe pineapple, cubed
• 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
• 1/2 cup chopped red onion
• Squeeze of lime juice
• Pinch of salt
1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerator for at least an hour. Can be made 2 days in advance.
2. To assemble, lay pork strips on a warm tortilla, top with pineapple salsa, pickled red onions, and cilantro lime sauce or toppings of your choice.
Bratwurst Taco with Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa
• 4 Bratwurst cooked and cut in half lengthwise
• 4 tortillas
• Whole Grain Mustard
Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa:
• 1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans
• 3 ears of corn, husked and silks removed
• 1 tablespoon butter, melted
• 1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
• ½ medium red bell pepper, diced
• ½ red onion, diced
• ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
• Juice of 3 limes
• 4 ounces dried chorizo
• Salt and pepper
1. Turn grill on high. Brush corn with butter and season with salt and pepper. Grill corn, turning every 2 -3 minutes until charred. Approximately 10 minutes. Let cool and cut corn off cob.
2. In a medium bowl stir together black beans, corn kernels, jalapeno, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, chorizo and lime juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Can be made 1 day in advance.
3. To assemble: Brush warm tortillas with whole grain mustard, top with bratwurst and a generous amount of Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa. Finish with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce (see related recipe) and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Chili Lime Shrimp with Red Cabbage Citrus Slaw
• 1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
• Juice of 4 limes
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Combine lime juice, chili powder, garlic and cilantro, and mix well. Add shrimp and marinate for 20 minutes.
2. Remove shrimp from marinade and drain on paper towels.
3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and sauté shrimp until no longer pink.
Red Cabbage Citrus Slaw:
• ½ head red cabbage, shredded
• 1/4 cup red onion
• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
• Juice of 2 oranges
• Juice of 3 limes
• 2 tablespoons honey
1. In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, onion and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk together orange juice, lime juice and honey. Pour over slaw mixture and toss. Chill for a minimum of 1 hour.
2. To assemble: Place shrimp on warm tortilla, top with citrus slaw, sliced avocado and other toppings of your choice
This recipe originated with “The Cookie Rookie.” It’s so good! In her recipe, she didn’t add water to the mixture, so if your game, omit the water! For 6 (4.5 ounce) servings.
• 6 ounces Triple Sec or Cointreau
• 6 ounces freshly squeezed Lime juice (approximately 6 limes)
• 12 ounces Tequila
• 12 teaspoons Agave syrup
• 3 cups water
• 3 cups ice
1. Combine all ingredients, except the ice, in a pitcher, and stir well. Refrigerate until serving time.
2. When ready to serve, rub rim of glasses with lime and dip in coarse sea salt. Fill each glass with ice and margaritas. Garnish with a lime.
Taco Bar Toppings:
• Shredded Cheese (Cotija, Cheddar, Monterey Jack)
• Diced Onion
• Pico de Gallo
• Chopped tomatoes
• Green chiles
• Sliced avocado
• Sour cream
Here are three simple sauces for topping your tacos. Just throw the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until combined!
• 1/2 cup sour cream
• 1/3 cup Mayo
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
Cilantro Lime Sauce:
• 8 ounces sour cream
• 1 bunch of cilantro
• Juice of 1 lime
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ripe avocado
• 1/2 cup cilantro, packed
• 1 garlic clove
• Juice from 1 lime
• 1/2 Jalapeño, seeds removed
• 1/2 teaspoon salt