Linebacker ribs

Time 35 minutes
Yields Serves 24
Linebacker ribs
Print RecipePrint Recipe

What’s Thanksgiving without turkey, or New Year’s without eggnog? A pathetic fumble! Big ritual occasions need the right consumables.

That includes the Super Bowl. In the last XXXVI years, it’s gone from merely the national football championship game to the biggest party of the year. With just about every TV in the country blasting it out, friends and relatives gathered to howl and cheer, it has outgrown, we submit, the ad hoc menu of regular old nachos and Buffalo wings that has accumulated around it.

Wrong, wrong! This is the most two-fisted eating occasion of the year. Super Bowl is just plain too big for chicken wings.

So with Sunday’s game looming, we started thinking, how about Buffalo chicken legs? There’s a snack you can wrap a paw around.

Now we seemed to glimpse, as if from afar, a vision of the true Super Bowl menu -- indeed, the Super Bowl menu of the future: great big food.

The madness began to gather. Instead of nachos made with tortilla chips, we started thinking, let’s use giant tortilla wedges, as big as you can cut out of a tortilla, and pile on beans, chicken and cheese, with scoops of salsa, guac and sour cream as soon as they come out of the oven! Each nacho chip a serving in itself!

And really, who wants to mess with dinky baby back ribs while watching hundreds of pounds of beef crash into each other? Beef ribs! Not little short ribs, but prime ribs, great big honking prime ribs, big enough for martial arts purposes, with lots of meat on them! Everybody likes barbecue, so the kitchen gave the ribs a ‘cue-type rub of cumin and two kinds of hot pepper.

Super Bowl is sandwich season, and we started out making a giant submarine full of cold cuts and coarsely chopped green olives. It was good enough, but you can get a giant sub any day of the year. The occasion demands the biggest French dip sandwich you ever saw: tender roasted pork butt topped with a horseradish mustard sauce for sopping in pork juices.

You have to have your vegetables. We accept that. But at least they don’t have to be those silly little bits that usually share Buffalo wings’ blue cheese dip. Why not have whole skewers of them?

For dessert, we figured on cookies as big as pizzas. To be in proportion, we used chocolate chunks instead of chocolate bits, and we added toffee chips for crunch and a drizzle of melted chocolate for, well, more chocolate.

We stood back to assess our depth of field. The ribs were like a solid wall. The chicken legs had enormous strength (due to a dose of rough, smoky chipotle sauce). The sandwich went long, the crudites were quick, the nachos knew all about pepper. That cookie -- it was a flying saucer.

Actually, this titanic feast turns out to be convenient to serve -- it’s easier to make a couple of big things than a lot of little ones. Since the ribs are prime ribs, they don’t even need long cooking -- 15 minutes on the grill is enough for medium rare; the halftime show won’t even be over. You can cook the chicken legs in advance and heat them up as needed. The sandwich serves itself, and people can choose as big a slice as they want (but don’t look when somebody cuts a small one).

Now, that’s a party. And next year, maybe we’ll try Buffalo turkey legs.


Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a small skillet over low heat until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle, then combine in a small bowl with the ancho and chipotle chile peppers, the sugar, dry mustard, garlic powder, 2 teaspoons of salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.


Rub the meaty surfaces of the ribs with the cut cloves of garlic. Season the ribs with salt to taste. Sprinkle the spice mixture over ribs and rub onto all surfaces of the ribs. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.


Heat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the ribs, in batches if necessary, until browned and crusty, about 15 minutes for medium to medium-rare. Remove the ribs to a serving platter and squeeze lime juice over the top.

From Donna Deane. Look for powdered ancho chile pepper and chipotle chile pepper in the spice aisle of well-stocked supermarkets.