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Celebrating Super Bowl with sinkers, not floaters


IF THERE IS ONE WORD I don't want to hear today, it is "light." Today is Super Sunday, the day when the behemoths known as the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons meet in Miami to pummel each other into the ground until one team is declared the top dog in professional football.

It is a day celebrating big men, big portions, big appetites. The Super Bowl is a primal battle, an annual reminder of our dark side.

Anybody who seeks "the light" or serves light fare on Super Bowl Sunday is missing the mood of the day. Super Bowl is the day you hold the hummus and bring on the blue cheese. It is a day of men behaving badly, which we are inclined to do if we are allowed to sit in a dark room dominated by a large television screen.

Some years ago, womenfolk recognized that menfolk were dropping from view on a certain Sunday in January, and began organizing Super Bowl parties. The idea was that all members of the family, not just the prehensile males, could come to these gatherings.

I have attended such parties and have been shocked to see crudites -- little raw vegetables dipped in "light sauce" -- and salads being served.

I rail against the movement to make the ritual of eating and watching the Super Bowl a lighter, brighter event. But my crusade is personal and marginally effective. Usually, I end up watching the game with members of my family, but I insist we eat heavy food.

We often have chicken wings, sprinkled with crab seasoning from Obrycki's restaurant and accompanied by blue-cheese sauce. This year I am adding a new item to our feast -- grilled chicken stuffed with a beer can.

I found it in "John Madden's Ultimate Tailgating" with Peter Kaminsky (Viking Penguin, 1998).

Madden, a former football coach and now a TV broad-caster, wrote that food can be divided into "floaters and sinkers ... Salad is a floater ... It's light. It stays up there. Tailgating food is all sinkers ... They sink down there and keep you on the ground."

Even though the instructions were vague, I tried the chicken recipe. It worked, with one small drawback. When the beer mixture evaporated, the chicken fell over. I guess it was tipsy.

Beer-Stuffed Chicken

1 12-ounce can beer

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

2 tablespoons garlic salt

2 pinches black pepper

1 whole chicken

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 jar of your favorite barbecue sauce

Empty can of beer into large bowl. Cut off top of beer can with utility scissors or tin snips. Mix poultry seasoning, garlic salt and pepper in bowl of beer.

Heat grill to 275 degrees (medium hot fire). Massage chicken with olive oil. Pour half of contents of bowl back into the beer can. Top can off with barbecue sauce, stopping about 1 inch short of top.

Place can on solid surface. Squeeze chicken over beer can. Be sure can is completely inside chicken. Coat chicken with remaining contents of bowl.

Using indirect heat arrangement (coals on the sides, open space in the middle) put stuffed chicken on grill, adjusting legs so chicken sits vertically on the beer can. Warning: as the liquid in the can evaporates, the chicken gets wobbly.

Cover grill and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the meat is 175 on a meat thermometer.

Remove chicken from grill. Remove beer can. Slice and serve.

Pub Date: 01/31/99

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