February 7, 2016

Super Bowl pork-off

It's no secret I love to look into Super Bowl food.

In past years I've pitted Dunkin' Donuts' coffee against Starbucks', cooked special soup, and cooked foods from each participating teams' host city. In fact, for the last several years my wife and I have made an effort to try a new recipe representing each Super Bowl participant — clam chowder for New England and Seattle dogs for the Seahawks last year, for example. I just haven't always written about those cooking adventures.

That changes this year with a great combination of recipes representing the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. In the Panthers' corner we have Carolina barbecue boneless ribs, following a recipe from porkbeinspired.com, the official website of the National Pork Board (yes, this really exists). In the Broncos' corner we have a Denver green chile recipe from the Denver Post

That's right. It's a good old-fashioned battle of the other white meat. A pork-off, if you will.

Both I and the official wife of Rick's Food Critique prepared different parts of the dishes (although she ended up doing more of the work and therefore deserves more of the credit). Then we sat down to try them out before the Super Bowl. Here are the results. We'll see if they predict the outcome of the game.

Let's first start with the Carolina barbecue ribs. They weren't much to look at because we adapted the recipe from grilling to slow-roasting, but boy were they tender. They also came with a nice tangy zing owing to the combination of molasses, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper in the sauce recipe.

Boneless pork ribs aren't much to look at without grill marks, but the flavor is what matters.
Truth be told, I'd probably like a little more cayenne in these, though. They were hot but begging for just a little more punch. The sauce was also pretty watery, while I prefer a stickier barbecue sauce. In the future I might experiment with reducing it and adding some starch to try to bring out a bit more body.

Also waterier than expected was the Denver green chile. But that wasn't its only surprise. It proved to come out of the pot more red than green.

Despite the color, this really is Denver green chile.
Despite any color and consistency concerns, the green chile proved to be outstanding. The heat is there thanks to the five jalapenos. The pork is tender and flavorful thanks to a long simmering time and previous browning with garlic and onions. We tried it both alone and with rice to sop up some of the juice, and it was great both ways.

As good as our Carolina barbecue was, the green chile was exceptional enough to blow most foods out of the water. Four sporks for the barbecue and five out of five for the chile.

I guess that leaves Denver fans hoping my taste buds have predictive value and Carolina fans hoping I have no culinary crystal ball. Either way, enjoy the game!

February 6, 2016

Lay's Flavor Swap starts Monday

This box contains eight tiny bags of potato chips.
Do you have a favorite Lay's potato chip flavor? It might be on the chopping block.

Lay's is trying out four new flavors. But it's pitting them against four existing flavors in high-stakes elimination contests. And it's requiring you, the chip-eating public, to vote on what stays and what goes.

If this sounds familiar, it's because it draws heavily on the "Do Us a Flavor" contests Lay's has run in years past. Loyal readers will no doubt recall Chicken and Waffle Potato Chips as a high point in that recurring competition, which had Lay's putting four new flavors up against each other in public votes.

This time around, eaters will be voting for winners in four different chip pairings in something called a "Flavor Swap." Each pairing includes an existing chip and one supposedly chosen from flavor trends. Here's the lineup:

Heat Flavor Swap: Lay’s Flamin’ Hot vs. new Lay’s Fiery Roasted Habanero
Cheese Flavor Swap: Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream vs. new Lay’s Smoked Gouda & Chive Barbecue Flavor Swap: Lay’s Honey Barbecue vs. new Lay’s Korean Barbecue
Spice Flavor Swap: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper vs. new Lay’s Kettle Cooked Olive Oil & Herbs

Lay's says voters will "help decide" which flavors stick around, so something tells me the classic Cheddar & Sour Cream could be staying no matter what voters say. But there are some interesting new flavors on the list worth trying. Korean Barbecue and Fiery Roasted Habanero caught my eye in particular.

Voting starts Monday and runs through March 21. The chips should be on store shelves by the time the polls open.

The good folks at Lay's were nice enough to send me a box of the different flavors early. I'll be doing reviews of each for the start of voting.