The Big Game is always in the dead of winter, so celebrating Big Island style can help ease those mid-winter blues. Plus a tropical theme makes the menu itself something to celebrate, regardless of which team wins – or if you are just watching the commercials.
Use your new air fryer: Huli Huli chicken wings
If an air fryer is among your new gadgets, then you really should put it to use. For best results, try using it for foods that already have some fat in them – like bacon, sausage, or chicken wings. After air frying, toss in this simple Huli Huli sauce before returning to the air fryer to turn the sauce into a finger-licking glaze.
Huli Huli Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer
- 2 lbs party wings
- 1-2 T Omnivore Salt
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar or 6 T sugar and 2 T molasses
- ¼ cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely grated
- Layer frozen chicken wings in the tray and sprinkle with (your new favorite) Omnivore Salt. Then air fry according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, simmer all ingredients together until they begin to thicken into a sauce.
- Remove wings from sauce with tongs and return to air fryer for a few minutes until glazed and slightly charred. Coat in remaining sauce before serving.
Showcase a New Bowl: Roasted Onion Dip
The Big Game without a dip of some sort is nearly impossible to imagine. You may not be able to get your hands on Maui or other Hawaiian onions where you live, but you can definitely use a local onion of your choice. No sweet onions in season? No worries- because the onions are roasted, I’ve found that it doesn’t matter whether or not you start with sweet onions.
Rethink your Nachos: Kalua Pork Nachos
Go island style with your nachos. Layer tortilla chips with some Kalua-style pork made simple (skip the cabbage portion for this recipe), and some lomi lomi tomatoes (not unlike Hawaiian pico de gallo). Combine some sriracha and mayonnaise to taste and drizzle over the nachos. Finish with sliced green onions and/or cilantro.
Bring on the Chocolate
A chocolate lava cake is a great choice (or the individual ones you can sometimes find at Trader Joe’s – or, for something a little different, the chocolate lava gnocchi!). But for a big game-friendly lava dessert, consider chocolate lava brownies. After making a few batches of rather disappointing, not-so-molten chocolate cookies, these brownies from Epicurious were an even more welcome find.
A recipe I will make again and again – regardless of whether or not lava is part of the theme. Pantry ingredients mixed in a single bowl with delicious results. My family doesn’t really do nuts, so I left them out, and I halved the recipe in a 9-inch glass baking dish (these puppies are rich!). Right out of the oven, these were “fork brownies” – which would be sublime with ice cream or whipped cream. Hours later, they set up a bit, and maintained a soft, chewy center with a thin crisp shell. If you like chewy brownies, then I imagine these will be a new go-to in your house, just like they will be in my mine.
Dazzle them with Drinks
The Mai Tai was born on the Big Island of Hawaii, but if you want to stay upright through the 4th quarter, consider something with a little less punch. My version of a Blue Hawaii includes a little (homemade) sweet and sour mix, as well as coconut rum, pineapple juice, and, of course, blue curaçao. Inspired by this recipe from liquor.com, make my Blue Hawaii by combining in a cocktail shaker, 1 ounce of each of the following:
- dark rum (like Bacardi),
- coconut rum (like Malibu),
- blue curaçao,
- sweet and sour mix (ideally homemade).
- Add 4 ounces pineapple juice and shake vigorously with ice before straining into a chilled glass.
Bonus: Wear your True Colors (or not)
If you have a team you are supporting, consider showing your support with your Color Street manicure. If you’re just watching for the commercials – and the food – then any set of Color Street will do.