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Super Bowl Sunday

Chef Tom Wade shares his tips and tricks for crafting an epic game day spread

By Liberty Commons on February 8, 2023 • Archive
Please note this post is older, and the content may be out of date.

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or simply tuning in for halftime, when it comes to the Super Bowl, there’s one thing everyone can agree on: it’s all about the food. To ensure you don’t drop the ball on any hosting duties, we sat down with Chef Tom Wade to discuss his favourite game-day eats and how to recreate the Liberty Commons barbecue experience at home.
Here’s what he had to say.

Let’s start with the warm-up. What’s an easy appetizer that’s sure to please a crowd?

I would go for a seven-layer dip paired with a big bowl of chips. It’s perfect for a crowd and can be prepared in advance. The options for layers are endless: think beans, salsa, guac, sour cream, jalapeños… whatever you’re craving. When it comes to cheese, opt for queso — the processed stuff is absolutely acceptable for game day. If you’re hosting, have a few things ready for guests to graze on as soon as they arrive. 

Chicken wings are a game-day staple. Any tips for achieving pub-approved wings at home? 

It’s tough if you don’t have a deep fryer, but  I’ve heard air fryers can be a good substitute. Wings can be prepared in advance and finished in the oven when your guests arrive. For the best crunch, after a first bake, sauce them up again and finish them under the broiler, which will ensure they get extra sticky and caramelized. You want them to be hot, messy and fall-off-the-bone tasty. If you’re looking for a more wallet-friendly option you can stick to drumsticks, which are more cost-effective than wings and just as crushable.

For Torontonians without a backyard or balcony barbecue, how can the BBQ experience be replicated indoors? 

Slow cookers are a great gadget for an event like the Super Bowl because you can do everything from vegetarian chili to delicious barbecue ribs. If you’re making a seven-layer dip, chili is where you can also repurpose your leftover dip ingredients to be used as toppings — another great bang for your buck. Ribs are a barbecue staple, but they can also be just as good without touching a grill. The grocery store has tons of options for tried and true barbecue sauces that offer something for every palette, from sweet and punchy to smoky, hickory notes. You can even add a little liquid smoke to amp up the outdoor barbecue flavour. A tiny bottle will last you forever since you only need a few drops. 

fresh bbq ribs on metal tray

Speaking of barbecue sauce, do you have a favourite type? In your opinion, what makes for a good one?

I think that the key to a good barbecue sauce is the balance between sweet and tangy. From Carolina to Texas to Memphis barbecue, there are truly so many types if you want to get technical about it. In Canada, our barbecue isn’t quite as diverse. Personally, my favourite is a tomato-based sauce as that’s what I grew up eating. My dad would make his own, which was literally just ketchup and maple syrup, but it still hit all kinds of notes. At Liberty Commons, our sauce offers a similar flavour profile with a bunch of spices for layers of added complexity. 

Liberty Commons is known for hosting an annual Rib Fest. What are some tricks you’ve learned along the way?

My best piece of advice when serving ribs to a crowd is to give yourself time. Don’t wait until your friends arrive to start cooking them. At home, my oven has a ‘keep warm’ feature which is great for entertaining a crowd. Get your ribs seasoned and ready to go then bake them off. After cooking, wrap them in foil and keep them warm in the oven. I like to give mine two to three hours at 325°F, glaze them up again and do another 45 minutes to finish. By the time your guests start rolling in, they are rested and warm. Another tip, which may be obvious, is to keep tidying throughout your prep. Cleaning as you go means you can watch the game and not be left with a massive pile of dishes to tackle once the party’s over. 

That’s right! As much as Super Bowl Sunday is about the food, we don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen all day. What else could easily be prepped in advance?

A build-your-own station is a great option. I like to do sausages and have all the accoutrements pre-chopped and ready to go. Diced onions, pickles, hot peppers and condiments can be put in little bowls and quickly pulled out of the fridge when it’s go time. For picky eaters or those with dietary restrictions, this is also a super customizable option. I just slap some sausages or burgers on the grill and let my guests do the rest! 

Liberty Commons BBQ Takeout Box

Being that Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery has easy access to some amazing beers, what are your favourite ways to use beer in your cooking? 

I love cooking with beer. It’s so versatile. Here at Liberty Commons, we use Big Rock Traditional Ale in our barbecue sauce. It’s also a great leavener, so we like to use it in combination with soda water for battered items where bubbles are important. For that same reason, we use beer when baking our scones. But it can also be used for braising to impart added flavour when slow cooking. A six-pack would be ideal to have on hand if you’re doing baby back ribs. Cook them down with a few beers and then keep a couple on hand to enjoy for yourself. The liquid that remains when you pull them out will be fortified with all the flavour from the bones and fat — the perfect base for a barbecue sauce. 

For fans who would rather order in, what Liberty Commons menu items are must-haves for watching the game?

Our barbecue platters are a great option because you get a little bit of everything. The large platter feeds four and comes with beef brisket, jerk chicken, St. Louis-style spare ribs, smoked sausage, beans, potato salad, slaw and cheese scones — all the usual suspects in one delicious place. We smoke the brisket for eight to ten hours and slice it fresh to order. Even the beans are loaded with barbecue flavour. We use red and white kidney beans, maple, molasses, housemade mustard and smoked pork trim plus shavings from our reuben sandwich to add a dose of fatty, smoky goodness. Our grill is a big tool in our arsenal because we use whole pieces of wood cooked down to become coal, adding an extra layer of charred wood flavour. While not on the barbecue platter, we also have a charred cabbage steak with smoked and roasted radishes for a meat-free menu option. The dish is hearty and packed with big barbecue flavour.

Whether you’re hosting a bash, adding a crowd-pleasing app to someone else’s spread or ordering your game-day eats to go, we hope you’ve found some touchdown-worthy inspiration for an epic Super Bowl spread! 


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