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Must-haves for any Super Bowl party

The Super Bowl, the annual championship game of the National Football League, has become a global event. According to Nielsen, a ratings measurement firm, the 2013 game, which pitted the Baltimore Ravens against the San Francisco 49ers, drew an average of 108 million viewers, peaking at 113.9 million during the final 17 minutes of the broadcast, when the Ravens withstood a furious rally from the 49ers, ultimately winning the game 34-31.

Fans and non-fans alike typically spend at least some time watching the big game, and many people do so at parties geared around the game itself. A good Super Bowl party can make the game that much more enjoyable, and the following are some must-have items no Super Bowl party host should forget.

• Snacks: Snacks play an integral role on Super Bowl Sunday. Unlike other popular gatherings, Super Bowl parties do not typically feature a sit-down meal as part of the festivities. Though it’s customary for hosts to make one large dish or order pizzas for guests, it’s still necessary to stock up on snacks to keep guests from getting hungry as the party progresses. The game itself often lasts three hours or more, and many guests will begin to arrive an hour before kickoff, if not earlier. So be sure to have snacks like potato chips and pretzels as well as some healthier fare, like vegetable trays, on hand for guests.

•  Dips: Of course, snacks always taste better when guests have something to dip them into. When choosing dips for the party, encourage guests with culinary skills to make their own homemade dips and bring them to the party, and make some of your own as well. Hosts hesitant to try their hands at making dips can always buy some from the store, just be sure to choose popular dips like onion- or cheese-flavored dips and even some salsa.

•  Nachos: Certain foods have become synonymous with Super Bowl parties, and nachos certainly fall into that category. If hosts and guests all eat meat, cook up some homemade nachos with tortilla chips, ground beef (or even ground chicken), green peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, shredded cheese, and salsa, be it homemade or store-bought. Exclude beef or chicken when hosting guests who abstain from eating meat or poultry. Nachos can be made in a snap, so hosts might want to wait until just before the game starts to whip up some homemade nachos.

• Beverages: Beverages are another important must-have when hosting a Super Bowl party. According to Nielsen estimates from 2011, Americans consumed roughly 50 million cases of beer in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl (the NFLconference championship games, which determine who will play in the Super Bowl, occur two weeks prior to the big game), a significant portion of which is consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. So hosts should anticipate guests wanting to enjoy a beer or two during their Super Bowl parties. But beer isn’t the only beverage hosts must stock up on. Have plenty of water on hand, as well as some beverages like iced tea and soda for kids and adults guests who do not drink alcohol. Hosts also should monitor guests’ alcohol consumption to ensure no guests overdo it.

• Chicken wings: Like nachos, chicken wings have become synonymous with the Super Bowl. Hosts who want to try their hands at homemade wings can consider the following recipe for Baked Jerk Chicken Wings.

Baked Jerk Chicken Wings

Serves 4 as an appetizer

18 whole chicken wings, or 12 drumsticks

1 1/2 cups jerk marinade

1 1/2 cups tamarind-apricot sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

In a baking dish, combine the chicken and 1 cup of the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 11/2 hours or up to 4 hours, turning occasionally. The longer the chicken marinates, the hotter it becomes. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the chicken in a greased baking dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, basting twice with the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade. When done, the juices will run clear when the chicken is pierced with a knife.

Prepare a dipping sauce by combining the tamarind-apricot sauce with the soy sauce. Serve the chicken hot or at room temperature, with the dipping sauce.

This story was posted on January 2, 2014.