Making a Touchdown at Your Super Bowl Tailgate, With a Little Help From the Masters

The chefs of Wynn share their snack-food secrets.

The Super Bowl is almost as much about the party as the game. Entertaining on such a high-expectation day can be daunting, but with a little planning and the right recipes, you can throw a game day party that both you and your guests will enjoy.

The Wynn Master Class series offers participants the opportunity to spend a few hours learning the tricks of various trades. Their recent Master Tailgating Class featured Tableau executive chef Rene Lenger and Charlie’s Bar + Grill executive chef Jason Duarte sharing some dishes worthy of a victory party. After pretzels and wings at Andrea’s, the group went into the kitchen to learn a mixture of gourmet techniques and practical tips. “You want something a little more complicated, but nothing people would be afraid to try at home,” Lenger says, who created two offerings using prime rib—three, if you count the roast on its own. And if, as one attendee pointed out, you’re a little dubious about whether your friends deserve three kinds of prime rib, you can always make it for yourself Saturday night and turn the surplus into some fabulous hors d’oeuvres on Sunday. Using a single ingredient in multiple dishes is one way to make entertaining easier.

Charlie’s Pretzel + Pub Cheese | Photo by Jeff Green

A rollatini fills thin-sliced prime rib with mozzarella, parmesan cheeses and pickled jalapeño, before being breaded and beer-battered for a quick fry—a little like a less-heavy, less-formal rendition of a German rouladen. For appetizers, cut on the diagonal and serve with dipping sauce. A bourbon prime rib baked potato was another option—bake potatoes, then refill with diced prime rib and a variety of other delights (see recipe below). For snack-size servings, turn the baked potatoes into potato skins by cutting into smaller pieces. And if you don’t have the prime rib or blue cheese, put in what you do have—chicken and gouda, tofu and cheddar, whatever. “There’s a lot of fun in this food—you can tailor it to your personal likes and needs,” Lenger says.

Both the rollatini and potato are examples of dishes you can make ahead of time—another of Lenger’s tips for better entertaining. “I like things you can do beforehand,” he says. “We try to prep as much as we can the day before so there is no dishes, just minimalistic things to finish, so you can actually enjoy what you prepped for.” Other make-ahead options could include dips, meatballs and anything that goes into a crock pot.

Charlie’s Bar + Grill is the restaurant at the Wynn’s Sportsbook, so Chef Duarte certainly knows his way around pretzels, wings and nachos. He shared his recipe for short rib poutine, a decadent dish that could distract the most rabid fan from the closest game. He also let us in on what he called “The rule of cooking with alcohol.” “For every cup you put in your food, one-and-a-half cups has to go into you,” he says.

Duarte also instructed how to make Charlie’s Pub Cheese, a popular dish at his restaurant that combines cheese with Guinness, heavy cream, horseradish and cayenne. He talked about using Velveeta or slices of American cheese mixed with milk for an easy cheese sauce or queso dip. Not everything needs to be top-shelf ingredients or even should be—yet another useful lesson for party-givers. The chef also shared his trick to irresistible french fries: After taking them out of the fryer or oven, toss in rendered duck fat.

After the kitchen lessons, we returned to the dining room to (generously) sample all of the dishes and have a wide-ranging Q&A with the chefs that covered everything from sourcing meats to cooking Thanksgiving turkey. The questions period was an excellent opportunity to get advice from those at the top of their game. (If you want to know more about bread baking or cake decorating, wine or sake, the Wynn has upcoming classes on those too, so get your queries ready.)

So, what will the chefs be doing on game day? Lenger will be at home, probably grilling. Duarte will, of course, be at work: “Come on down to Charlie’s—it’s going to be packed.” But both chefs stress that game day entertaining shouldn’t be about stress. “It’s about serving good food and having a great time,” Lenger says. “With that, everything tastes better—unless your team is losing; better to eat first.”

Bourbon Prime Rib Baked Potato Recipe, Courtesy of Executive Chef Rene Lenger

Ingredients:

Olive oil and Kosher salt for baking the potatoes
1 ½ cup diced prime rib
⅓ cup minced bacon
½ cup sour cream
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 oz. good bourbon
2 tsp. Aleppo pepper
8 large Idaho baking potatoes
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Directions:

Scrub the potatoes and pierce the skin several times with a fork or knife. Rub the skin with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack for approximately 50 minutes to one hour until the insides are tender and soft when pierced with a tester. Let cool until easy to handle. Slice in half and scoop out potato flesh and reserve.

Combine the bacon, sour cream, parsley, blue cheese, parmesan cheese, bourbon and Aleppo pepper in a mixing bowl with some of the potato filling and mix until incorporated.

Take each baked potato half and fill generously with the stuffing. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

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