Super Bowl food is something you either love or hate. If you go by the ads, most people are gorging themselves on Velveeta dips, Tostitos, and Pace Picante sauce while watching the game, dishing over the half-time show, and determining which ad is the best. But there's more to finger food than the ads would have you believe.
Although I'm not a big football fan -- I often spend the day at the movies seeing Oscar contenders because the lines are nice and short -- I am going to a Super Bowl party this year. So to get myself into the swing of things, I thought I would check out what the Steeler's and Packer's home towns have on the menu.
Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette was a bit of a bust. Highlighted on their food page is a series of videos called "Cooking with Gretchen." Now I only watched the guacamole video, but poor Gretchen is set up to look like a ditz who knows nothing about football, which sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Why make fun of the cook? She's there to make guacamole (although she can't de-pit an avocado to save her life), not recite football stats. Plus didn't the whole air-headed girl routine go out of style a couple of decades ago? Okay, moving on… They also have a list of "healthy" recipes, but the inclusion of nachos that include broccoli and spinach along with an 80's style artichoke dip seemed pretty unappealing. The Super Steeler's fan recipes were sort of fun to look, but I can't imagine getting into the spirit of the game with some kielbasa cooked with chili sauce and grape jelly or a Boboli Pierogi Pizza where you put pierogis on a Boboli crust and then bake with cheddar cheese.
Looking for ideas from Green Bay, I checked out the food section of the Press-Gazette. The feature article for game-day food was a list of dips. Most have fun catchy titles, like the Texas, Here We Come Caviar, which seemed the most appetizing of the bunch with its fresh peppers and tomatoes. But I just can't see myself making the James Harrison Has A Chip On His Shoulder chipped beef dip or the Dance Like B.J. Raji and Say Cheese dip made with Velveeta Mexican Cheese.
So what will this judgmental snack snob make on Super Bowl Sunday? Well, I've given up on the idea of doing something regional for each team. Sorry. Just can't do it. Instead I thought I'd honor the Lunar New Year, which begins today, by making Asian lettuce wraps. Beautifully seasoned meat wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves, this dish is full of flavor, fun to eat with your hands, and, dare I say, healthy. They can be spicy (just squirt on some sriracha sauce) and you can use whatever kind of meat you'd like (I'm going for a mix of ground pork and turkey). Perfumed with garlic, ginger, soy and fish sauce, they are easy to make and taste addictive.
My dream culinary Super Bowl match-off would be the New Orleans Saints vs. San Francisco 49ers so I can make gumbo and crab cakes, although I hear this isn't possible as both are in the NFC. Oh well. Back to the movies next year.
Super Bowl Lettuce Wraps
Makes: Enough for a small crowd
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground turkey
4 green onions sliced (both the white and green parts)
2 large garlic cloves minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 head lettuce (cleaned and separated so each leaf is ready to use)
Sides: cucumbers and carrots cut into thin matchbook slices and cilantro are nice additions.
Note: I like to use butter lettuce, but you can use whatever kind you like. Iceberg and red leaf work particularly well.
1. Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat and then add in the oil.
2. Sauté your green onions and garlic for one to two minutes (stirring and being careful not to scorch them).
3. Add in your meat and minced ginger. Cook until the meat is mostly cooked through, being sure to incorporate the onions and garlic. Add a little water if the meat starts to stick to the bottom of the pan (around 1 tsp).
4. Mix your soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and brown sugar in a bowl and then add to the meat mixture. Stir everything together.
5. Lower to heat to medium low and then cover the pan and simmer for about five minutes.
6. Uncover the pan and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
7. Set in a bowl and serve with lettuce leaves, cucumbers, carrots and/or cilantro, along with a dollop of sriracha sauce if you want it spicy.
More Game Day Recipes from Bay Area Bites
Not all of these are traditional Super Bowl fare, but all would be great at a party.
Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili
Massive Pot of Chili
Radish Dip, Green Olive Dip and Guacamole
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Shrimp Po Boys
Pork and Shrimp Dumplings