Throughout the football season, I am a big believer in cooking food that reflects the cuisine of the team or teams that are playing. When watching the Philadelphia Eagles, hoagies and strombolis are the perfect game day eats; and when watching the Dallas Cowboys (although that would only happen if the Eagles or Saints are playing them), then a hearty chili would be a perfect dish. For Superbowl 44, there is no shortage of delicious party foods that you could offer. Whether you are rooting for the New Orleans Saints or the Indianapolis Colts with their New Orleans born and raised quarterback, Peyton Manning, your Superbowl party theme has got to be New Orleans. With Mardi Gras being one week after the Superbowl, there is no better time to get into the New Orleans spirit no matter where you live.
With so many hearty, satisfying game-appropriate dishes in New Orleans cuisine, you should have no problem picking something for your Superbowl gathering. The top three choices for the star of your Superbowl party are Gumbo, Jambalaya and Red Beans n’ Rice. Of these three choices, Gumbo is my choice, since it will feed an army and pack in the biggest flavor punch and satisfaction. With Jambalaya, you do have to worry a little about overcooking the rice, but with Gumbo the rice is on the side and the Gumbo can simmer away on the stove all day. Your guests can help themselves in the kitchen to bowls of Gumbo at their leisure.
As a secondary dish, a sandwich can fulfill this position, and what better sandwich to make than the famous New Orleans Muffuletta. Now, you may be thinking how in the world can I pull off making a Muffuletta? Some adaptations may have to be made depending on what ingredients you have access to, but this recipe is fairly simple. If you have a gourmet store or a shop that specializes in New Orleans cuisine, then check it out for some Zapp's chips to go along with your Muffulettas. Zapp's chips, Louisiana-made chips kettle-cooked in peanut oil, offer crazy flavors like Cajun Crawtators and Cajun Dill Gator-Tators. Provide a simple sour cream dip to go along with these delicious chips and a plate of crudité or veggies to perfectly round out your Superbowl spread.
For dessert, if you are so lucky to have access to King Cakes, the scrumptious icing and sugar covered cake associated with Mardi Gras, then by all means stock up on these for your Superbowl gathering. If you don’t have these locally, then you can go online and order your King Cake to be shipped straight to your door. For the best King Cakes in New Orleans, check out Nonna's Italian Bakery and Cafe at http://www.nonnaskingcakes.com/. My favorite is the traditional cinnamon flavored cake, however there are other options with Nonna's filled king cakes with flavors like cream cheese, pecan praline or strawberry cream cheese. Order your king cakes today!
One of the most important elements to your Superbowl party is certainly the selection of liquid refreshments. There is one essential beverage that must make an appearance, the Louisiana brew, Abita beer. Abita has a selection of seven flagship brews including my favorite Purple Haze (a raspberry wheat), Abita Amber (a Munich-style lager), Abita Golden, Abita Light (both lighter lagers), Turbodog (a dark-brown ale), Jockamo I.P.A., and Restoration Pale Ale. Besides the must-have brew, it never hurts to offer a cocktail as well for the ladies. One of the most famous of cocktails to come from New Orleans has got to be the Hurricane. Hurricane mix should be easy to come by in your local liquor store. Your guests will love this fruity, strong rum-based concoction.
Saints-Colts Superbowl Party Menu
Lizzy M.’s Gumbo
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil (For roux)
1/2 cup flour (For roux)
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 beef bouillon cubes
4 cups water
2 dried bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup leafy celery tops, chopped
1 tbsp Tony’s Chachere or Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb smoked sausage/Andouille sausage (You can use either kind of sausage or both-whatever you have access to.)
2 tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
1 cup green onions (Use half for gumbo and other half for garnish)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1. Make Roux. In a large pot, preferably a cast iron pot, heat the canola or vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil is heated through, whisk in the flour. Whisk constantly until the flour is completely absorbed. Continue whisking or stirring as the roux cooks into a darker reddish-brown color. Making a roux is a skill that takes practice; so don’t put too much emphasis on the perfect roux, especially if you are a beginner. As long as the flour is cooked into the oil and has a nice thick consistency, don’t worry too much about its perfection-just don’t burn it. If you find that it is too hot, then turn down the heat.
2. Once the roux is at the desirable consistency and color, then add the chicken and beef bouillon cubes, water, and bay leaves. Stir well over medium heat to incorporate well with the roux. Keep covered to cook.
3. In a large sauté pan, heat a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add a dash of crushed red pepper to the oil for heat. Once the oil is heated through, then add the trinity or the onions, peppers, celery and celery tops as well as the seasonings of Tony’s Chachere or Cajun seasoning, thyme, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sauté on medium to high heat for about 5-7 minutes. Next, grate in 3 garlic cloves and mix well into the vegetables. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the vegetables to the gumbo pot. Keep the gumbo on a medium to low simmer.
4. Next add the clean, skinless and boneless chicken breasts into the gumbo. Push them down, so the liquid is covering them. Let these cook in a covered pot on a low simmer for 15 minutes turning them over once. While the chicken cooks, slice the sausage into small disks. In the large sauté pan that was used for the veggies, add the sausage and a few dashes of Tabasco or hot sauce. Sauté the sausage until a gets a bit of brown color for about 5 minutes.
5. After the chicken is cooked, remove from the pot onto a large cutting board. Allow the chicken breast to rest for about 5 minutes before shredding. After the chicken has rested, take two forks and pull through the chicken in opposite directions to shred the chicken. Slicing or chopping the chicken will work fine too. Place the shredded chicken back into the gumbo pot. Add in the sausage at this point as well.
6. Add a half-cup of chopped green onion, parsley and 2 tbsp of Kitchen Bouquet, a browning and seasoning mixture. You can find Kitchen Bouquet in the seasoning section at your grocery store. Stir your gumbo well and allow for the gumbo to cook covered for an hour on a low simmer. Add more water to the gumbo if needed.
7. While the gumbo is cooking, make white rice according to the directions on the rice package to serve with your gumbo. Taste the gumbo for seasoning after the hour of cooking. Add more at this point if desired. Serve your gumbo to your guest piping hot over white rice topped with chopped green onion. Cornbread or garlic French bread would make great accompaniments to the gumbo.
Lizzy M.’s Muffulettas
1 large loaf of French bread (about 12 inches)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb ham, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Mortadella (Italian bologna), thinly sliced
1/2 lb Genoa salami, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Provolone cheese, thinly sliced
2 cups olive salad
Olive Salad: (If you cannot find a pre-made Olive salad, then any variation of this recipe will do.)
1 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
2 tbsp capers
1/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
3 pepperoncini (salad peppers), chopped
1 tbsp yellow onion, minced
2 tbsp oregano
1 cup olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a storage container, add all ingredients and mix well. Make the day before, allowing for the olive salad to marinate.
2. When it is time to make the muffulettas, cut the whole French bread loaf lengthwise down the center. Layer the meats and cheeses on the entire loaf. Top generously with the olive salad. Place the top of the loaf onto the sandwich and push together. Cut the loaf into 6 pieces to make 6 sandwiches. Serve cold or serve hot by heating for 15 minutes in a 375-degree oven.
You can make your gumbo ahead of time, even the day before if you like, saving only the rice to make on game day. The olive salad for your muffulettas can be made the day before as well, and the actual sandwich can be made well before your party. This menu will give you the quality time to enjoy the game with your friends and family. Serve the muffulettas to your guests at the start of the game with Zapp's chips and Abita beer, and offer your gumbo at halftime. No matter what the outcome is of the Superbowl, your guests are sure to be satisfied by your winning New Orleans style spread. Remember if you aren’t ready this weekend for a big Superbowl party, then make this fabulous party spread for a Mardi Gras party the weekend after the Superbowl.
Enjoy your New Orleans Superbowl or Mardi Gras party! Who Dat! Go Saints!