2011 marks the first year that the Super Bowl is being held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and only the third time it has been held in Texas. So, to properly celebrate Super Bowl XLV, it would only be fitting to look to Texas for inspiration when planning your own Super Bowl party. And who better to talk to than one of Dallas’ own, Chef Dean Fearing of Fearing’s Restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton Dallas.
Dubbed the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Fearing is best known for his highly-flavorful dishes and his farm-to-table approach. And this is always evident at his annual Super Bowl parties, which are grand occasions filled with lots of south-of-the-border dishes.
Fearing's Super Bowl Plans
However, this year will be unlike those of the past. Fearing won’t be hosting a Super Bowl party of his own, but will instead be at the restaurant, where he is often found — but this time working “for five days straight.” If the idea of working straight through the Super Bowl terrifies you, it’s the opposite for Fearing. He is thrilled about all the business and energy the big game is bringing to Dallas, exclaiming “all of our event rooms are already booked!”
Bill Cosby’s Favorite Chili
Although Fearing may not be whipping up a Super Bowl feast of his own this year, he gets excited when talking about his Super Bowl favorites. At the top of his must-have list? A good chili. He tells me about the time when actor Bill Cosby was staying in the hotel, and Fearing had sent up some of his chili, made from a recipe that he has been using for over 17 years. Fearing served the chili just the way Cosby liked it, in a bowl, over white rice, and then got a call in the kitchen; it was Cosby. “This is just about the best stuff I’ve ever had!” Fearing recalls him saying. It was at that moment that Fearing re-named his chili “Cos’s Chili,” in honor of the actor.
This same chili is what goes into Fearing’s all-time favorite Super Bowl dish, Frito Pie. The chili is a Texas-style chili, made with no beans, lots of sirloin, peanuts, the local Shiner Bock beer, ancho chilies, and lots of sweet carrots. Fearing layers the chili over homemade Fritos and tops the whole dish with generous amounts of diced onion, sliced jalapeños, and jalapeño-jack cheese for an unforgettable dish.
Nachoes, Made By Hand
Another one of Fearing’s favorites are his handmade nachos, carefully built by hand to ensure that no chip goes uncovered. He begins with plain corn tortillas, cutting them into wedges and frying them until crisp. Each chip is then hand-smeared with a combination of guacamole and black beans, and is then topped with cheese. The nachos are baked until the cheese is melted, and served with a roasted tomato salsa, sour cream, and lots of cilantro.
While his queso and guacamole are long-standing Super Bowl mainstays, the party wouldn’t be complete without a big pot of his tortilla soup. Full of flavor, Fearing uses crisp, fried tortillas, along with onions, tomatoes, chilies, and spices to create the base of the soup. The soup gets puréed, and is served in bowls, topped with an array of garnishes, like smoked chicken, avocado, jalapeños, cheese, and, of course, more crispy tortillas.
Tortilla Bloody Marys
This same puréed soup is also goes into his slightly more eccentric, yet delicious, Tortilla Bloody Mary. Starting with a traditional tomato Bloody Mary base, Fearing adds fresh-grated horseradish, some of his tortilla soup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic Tabasco, and good-quality vodka. He serves the drink in a tall glass, filled with ice, and finishes it with a jalapeño half (cut lengthwise, so the seeds and membrane infuse some spice into the drink), a handful of salty tortilla chips, and fresh cilantro. While the drink starts off tasting like a regular Bloody Mary, with a hint of tortilla from the soup, by the last sip, the kick from the jalapeño, combined with the salty and now-soft chips and tomato juice base, has turned the drink into something all new and different.
For Dessert, the Family Helps
Of course, Fearing’s Super Bowl party isn’t complete without dessert. This is the part of the meal where his wife takes over. “She’s really good at it,” he says. She always makes individual apple pies, or a light and easy berry crisp, topped with a crumbly mixture of oats and brown sugar. Both are, of course, served with ice cream. And while Fearing and his wife typically stick to a small array of easy-to-make or individual-sized desserts, the offerings would not be complete without cupcakes, something his sons make and everyone loves year after year.