Super snacks: Score a taste touchdown with three winning recipes

MCT Photo Score a taste touchdown with a bowl of roasted pecans with rosemary, olive oil and sea salt on Super Bowl Sunday. Recipe on Page 7C.

The big question for some of us on Super Bowl Sunday isn’t who will win or which pricey TV commercial scores big with viewers. We want to know what there is to eat – and there better not be any fumbles.

Here are three food strategies to help you land that proverbial touchdown while family and friends chow down. And each of these winning plays can be executed mostly in advance so you can sit and enjoy the game too.

Plan a snack attack. Sure, you can go out and pick up bags of chips and jars of dips, salsas or spreads. It’s a popular choice: 32 percent of Americans picked this as their favorite Super Bowl snack last year in a Harris Interactive poll conducted for Supervalu Inc. Yet there is something hackneyed about a menu culled from the supermarket aisles. Why not make your own snacks? “They’re bright, crisp and fresh,” says Cynthia Nims, author of “Salty Snacks” (Ten Speed, $16.99). “You can vary recipes at home so that you can have many dozens of snacks that you can’t find in the snack aisle.”

Keep it clean (and healthy). “Clean” has become one of the year’s buzzwords in cookbook publishing as authors offer dishes that not only taste good but are good for you. “No matter how you eat, eat clean,” is the slogan of “The Clean Plates Cookbook” (Running Press, $20), by Jared Koch with Jill Silverman Hough. That includes “great snacks that are nutrient-dense,” wrote Koch in an email. “Because of those nutrients, your body will be satiated and actually crave fewer extra calories. That’s a win-win.”

Go deep – South. New Orleans is home to this year’s Super Bowl, and no matter how heated the contest gets on the field or in the stands, most people would agree the food culture of the Crescent City can’t be beat. Here’s a recipe from chef Phillip Lopez of Root for chicken wings – second in Super Bowl popularity, according to that Harris Poll – with a hot, new Korean twist. The recipe name – “KFC” Korean fried chicken wings – is a sassy send-up of Colonel Sanders’ famed product.

Deviled Ham With Pickled Peppers

Prep: 15 minutes Makes: About 1¼ cups

From “Salty Snacks” by Cynthia Nims. The flavor will be best if made at least 2 hours in advance; can be prepared up to 3 days ahead.

Combine 8 ounces thick-cut ham, diced, and 2 tablespoons chopped jarred pickled peppers in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. (The mixture should be somewhat coarse, not a smooth purée.)

Add 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar and 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard. Pulse to blend. Taste for seasoning, adding a little vinegar or mustard to taste. If dry, add a little mayonnaise for a spreadable texture.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature with crackers.

Rosemary Pecans

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 12 minutes

Makes: 3 cups

“Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you, these nuts are simultaneously salty, rich, crunchy and deliciously complex, thanks to the rosemary,” writes Jared Koch in “The Clean Plates Cookbook.”Arrange 3 cups raw pecan halves on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until brown and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Transfer while still warm to a bowl; add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary and fine sea salt to taste, tossing to coat. Return pecans to baking sheet to cool.‘KFC’ KOREAN FRIED CHICKEN WINGS

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

Makes: 36 pieces

Adapted from a recipe by chef Phillip Lopez published in “New Orleans Chef’s Table” (Lyons, $24.95) by Lorin Gaudin.Melt the pepper jelly over low heat in a saucepan; sweet Thai chili sauce can sub in.

2 stalks lemongrass

5 cloves garlic, whole

1 cup soy sauce

1 piece (3 inches long) ginger, sliced

Juice of 1 lime

½ cup salt

18 jumbo chicken wings, tips removed, cut into 2 sections

2 cups nonglutinous rice flour

Peanut oil for deep frying

¾ cup (6 ounces) jarred pepper jelly, melted or sweet Thai chili sauce

1 tablespoon each: toasted sesame seeds, chopped chives

Heat a large stockpot of water to a boil over high heat. Add lemongrass, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice and salt. Cook, 5-8 minutes. Turn down to a simmer. Add chicken wings; blanch, 3 minutes only. (This will release some fat from the skin and make the skin tighter for frying.) Remove with slotted spoon; shock in ice water. Dry; tamp dry with paper towels.

Toss the wings in rice flour to coat well. Submerge wings, in batches, in hot oil at 350 degrees; fry until fully cooked inside, about 7 minutes. (Alternatively, place wings on a baking sheet and roast in a 375 degree oven, rotating the pan halfway through, 15-20 minutes.)

Place hot wings in a bowl; add melted pepper jelly or chili sauce. Stir to coat wings. Arrange wings on serving platter; sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chives.