The Big Game kicks off on Sunday, and this time the extravaganza pits Super Bowl virgins, the New Orleans Saints, against seasoned veterans, the Indianapolis Colts. The game will be punctuated by the music of Roger Daltrey and The Who during halftime.
The venue is Miami, so tailgate parties will heat up from South Beach to Boca Raton with a 6 p.m. EST stop on Dan Marino Boulevard at the newly named Sun Life Stadium, formerly the Dolphin Stadium.
Our beloved Chargers will watch bittersweetly as their former star, Drew Brees, quarterbacks the Saints and leads his new team to a possible Vince Lombardi trophy.
With the game in the foreground, most folks will be reveling in the camaraderie of good friends, consuming everything from beer and brats to cocktails and caviar, and having a grand ol' annual brouhaha. Only 5 percent of fans will watch solo, while the average number at a Super Bowl party is 17.
Did you know that football fans from coast to coast are expected to chow down on 40 million to 50 million pounds of guacamole — enough to spread across the Sun Life football field from end zone to end zone 21 feet deep? Not to mention the 29 million pounds of chips to be consumed Sunday. No wonder there is a 20 percent hike in antacid sales the Monday after the game (no kidding).
Although Super Bowl fare is typically unhealthy, you can tweak the old standbys and make them better for you by serving wholesome regional dishes that incorporate the cuisines of New Orleans, Indiana and Miami.
If you're hosting a SB XLIV shindig at your home, here are some delicious chow choices:
For Indiana Colts' party eats, you can still serve Hoosier cuisine (pure and simple food that comes straight from the heartland), but choose organic pork tenderloin and grass-fed rib-eye steak for the sandwiches, stromboli with goat cheese, corn on the cob and popcorn popped in olive oil, along with persimmons pies and puddings.
For a taste of New Orleans, a cuisine that marries Canadian Cajun and European Creole flavors, serve spicy (where possible organic) Andouille sausage or boudin, a seasoned rice and pork sausage, instead of basic brats. Barbecue your shrimp baked in their shells and bathed in olive oil, garlic, bay leaf and a mix of other herbs and spices. Prepare fish or meat boulette balls baked instead of fried. Serve dirty rice or jambalaya with organic chicken and wild-caught shrimp. Make a gumbo (okra seafood stew) served over brown rice. Assemble po'boy sandwiches stuffed with shrimp, turkey meatballs and sliced chicken instead of beef, and dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mustard or mayo.
For an Italian twist on the po'boy, concoct a muffuletta, a round loaf sandwich filled with turkey salami, mozzarella and chopped marinated green olives.
Finally, for the sweet-toothed, traditional rum- or bourbon-soaked bread pudding; pralines, a confection of pecans, brown sugar, butter and vanilla; and a cup of flambeed cafe brulot, a strong coffee spiked with brandy and flavored with cinnamon, lemon, clove and orange.
In honor of this year's location, a melange of culinary cultures merge. Floridian cuisine is a melting pot of American, Latin, Caribbean, Cuban and Jewish deli — all with an ocean view.
I'm betting on the Saints with this heavenly Louisiana-style munchie that's a winner for any event.
Cajun Chili Pecans
- 4 cups of pecan halves
- 6 tablespoons of melted butter
- 2 teaspoons of chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse or pink salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Spread pecans on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, chili powder, garlic, cayenne, salt and coriander. Pour over mixture. Bake for 5 minutes longer. Serve warm. (For a sweet and savory twist, delete the garlic and sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar over the warm nuts.)
For help with your next culinary game plan, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the food blog at www.FreeRangeClub.com.