Sponsored by Ritz Crackers.
This has been a great season in the NFL. Quarterbacks across the league kept one-upping each other in a spectacle of power plays and broken records. Teams whose fans couldn't even remember what a victory feels like were suddenly winning game after game. The team that dominated all season isn't going to the playoffs. And then of course there was Tim Tebow.
Such a crazy season calls for crazy playoff parties. Even friends who don't watch football want to come watch the coming games.
That's why I'm expanding my typical menu (ribs, wings, guac, chili) to include extra snacks. This platter is a fun, easy twist on cheese and crackers. This year's teams, New York, Baltimore, Boston, and San Francisco, are all amazing food cities (and none of them include brats) and each set of crackers reflects a signature dish.
New York Shack Crackers
From New York style pizza to black and white cookies, the Big Apple is home to a slew of awesome signature foods. I think many SE'ers would agree that the Shake Shack burger deserves to be right up there with the perfect bagel and a dirty water dog.
These two-bite burgers are a great way to incorporate the Shack while still saving room for other football necessities like chili and wings. Meatball-sized patties are grilled then topped with Kenji's Fake Shack Sauce. The order of assembly is important here. A piece of butter lettuce keeps the bottom cracker from getting soggy, while a slice of American cheese saves the cracker at the top.
Eli and a Shack burger: the new New York classics.
Chesapeake Crab Crackers
The Baltimore Ravens have struggled with dropped passes all season, so to beat the Patriots they need some inspiration from the blue crabs that represent their city. Use those claws to grab the ball and hold on tight.
This crab salad is inspired by the many variations found across the city. The light dressing of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and lemon juice is bright and flavorful, and diced celery adds a bit of crunch. It's a nice alternative to cooking individual crab cakes or the creaminess of baked crab dips.
Baked Bean Town Crackers
A hearty bowl of protein-filled beans seems like something Tom Brady would down with his supermodel wife before kicking off his Uggs, hitting the field, and setting some records. But the truth is that baked beans are a Boston classic.
This sweet, tangy sauce is flavored with molasses, which has been a staple in Boston since the Colonial port was a center of the rum trade. Indeed, lest you worry that these are too healthy for a football watching party, be comforted that the beans are sauteed in bacon fat and topped with a piece of crispy bacon. It is winter in Boston, after all.
California Cracker Stacks
Produce in California is as fresh as the energy that Jim Harbaugh has brought to the 49ers. Celebrate them both by making a grilled veggie stack with eggplant, zucchini, and avocado. A dash of pesto adds a pop of flavor and nods to the long tradition of Italian food in San Francisco.
About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.