For fans, the focal point of Super Bowl Sunday is the game itself. For someone like me, the spouse of a fan, the main event is the hours or even days leading up to kickoff, when I come up with a menu that is as much fun for me to cook as it is for guests to eat.
With New Orleans hosting the game Sunday, there is reason for those of us who swoon over a slow-roasted pork butt rather than a soaring pigskin, and covet oysters on the half-shell over the halftime show, to be more enthusiastic than usual. The city’s rich culinary history, laden with exotic influences along with its experience hosting a decadent party, presents an excellent opportunity for a delicious Creole-inspired meal.
I asked Brian Landry, the chef and an owner of Borgne Restaurant in New Orleans, to plot an authentic Super Bowl celebration. Landry grew up fishing on Lake Borgne, just east of New Orleans, and though he has left his hometown many times over the years, he has always found his way back to the coastal cuisine of his childhood.
Even though his beloved Saints are out of contention, he was happy to suggest a lineup of dishes for a gridiron get-together.
The only mandate I had for the menu was that I wanted to be able to make nearly everything a day or so ahead. While I’m far from heartbroken if I miss a touchdown, I don’t want to be confined to the stove either.
A roast pork dip sandwich, with shredded meat slathered in a rich roux-based dipping sauce, fits the bill. Pork butt, pierced with garlic slivers and rubbed with fresh rosemary, is slow-roasted until meltingly tender on a bed of vegetables that flavor the final sauce. The meat can be made ahead and then reheated before it is tucked into a crusty roll, a delicious tweak on the po’boy.
“They say the sign of a good po’boy is how many napkins it takes to get through a sandwich,” Landry said. “This one takes a lot of napkins.” At Borgne he garnishes it with crispy fried onions, Tabasco-enhanced mayonnaise and melted Swiss cheese.
Knowing it wouldn’t be a New Orleans feast without shellfish, Landry also shared his sought-after shrimp boil recipe; admittedly, it requires a lot of ingredients, but don’t be put off. In his boil, fennel seed, cloves, allspice and a host of other spices infuse sweet shrimp with flavors straight out of the bayou, while filling your kitchen with an intoxicating aroma.
Chowchow, a bright, aromatic salad of pickled green tomatoes (or, in a pinch, tomatillos), cabbage, cauliflower and that most traditional southern vegetable, mirliton (chayote squash), should be served with the shrimp, but it also works nicely as a condiment with the po’boy. It can be made up to two days before kickoff.
It’s an ambitious menu, but unless you’re a rookie in the kitchen, pulling it off is just a matter of being organized. Landry suggests braising the pork on Saturday morning; preparing the chowchow while the meat is in the oven; and then in the afternoon, making the boudin balls, along with a dipping sauce. All you have left to do on Sunday is reheat the pork and fry the boudin balls during the pregame chatter. “No sweat,” he said.
Expect a huddle in the kitchen as well as around the TV.
CHORIZO BOUDIN BALLS
Time: 2 hours
Yield: About 48 balls
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon red chili flakes
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/2 pound chicken livers, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound roasted pork shoulder, reserved from roast pork dip, cut into 1-inch pieces (see note)
6 cups just-cooked white rice (should still be warm)
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup roast pork drippings, reserved from roast pork dip (see note)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup egg wash (1 large egg beaten in 1 cup milk)
3 to 4 cups panko
Vegetable oil, for frying
1. In a large bowl, combine ground pork with salt, pepper, cayenne, chili flakes, chili powder, paprika, vinegar and oregano. Mix to combine well, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned ground pork and cook until brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onion, celery, garlic and jalapeños and cook until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add chicken livers and roasted pork pieces and cook until livers are colored on the outside but still pink inside, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and let cool.
3. Transfer mixture to a clean work surface and chop into small, even pieces about the size of peas. Place in a large mixing bowl and combine with cooked rice, parsley, cilantro and pork drippings. Stir for 5 minutes or until mixture is sticky and the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Taste and reseason if needed.
4. Place flour, egg wash and panko in 3 separate dishes. Form boudin mixture into small spheres the size of golf balls. Roll balls in flour, then egg wash, then panko. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet until ready to cook. (You can hold them in the refrigerator overnight, or freeze them, wrapped well, for up to a month. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)
5. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with 3 inches of vegetable oil and set over high heat. When oil reaches 375 degrees as registered by a deep-fry thermometer, add boudin balls. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, cook until golden brown and heated all the way through, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer balls to a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat process with remaining balls. (They can be kept warm in a 200-degree oven between batches.) Serve hot or at room temperature.
NOTE: Substitute 1 pound pork shoulder (1-inch cubes) and poach in 2 cups chicken stock about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup liquid to replace drippings. PICKLED GREEN TOMATO AND MIRLITON CHOWCHOW
Time: About 1 hour, plus at least 4 hours’ standing
Yield: 10 to 12 cups
4 green tomatoes, diced, or 6 to 8 tomatillos, shucked and diced
4 mirliton (chayote squash), diced
1/2 head green cabbage, diced
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 yellow onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1/2 cup kosher salt
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 fresh bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1. Combine green tomatoes, mirliton, cabbage, cauliflower, onion and peppers in a large bowl. Add salt, mix to combine and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours. Drain vegetables.
2. Combine vinegar, sugar, ginger and turmeric in a large pot. Put mustard seed, celery seed, chili flakes, bay leaves and cinnamon stick in cheesecloth bag or sachet and add to pot. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Add vegetables to pot and return to a simmer for 15 minutes; stir occasionally. Discard spice bag or sachet and transfer vegetables and liquid to a large jar or lidded container to chill until ready to use. Serve as a relish or as a salad. ROAST PORK DIP
Time: 4 to 5 hours
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
1 bone-in pork butt (about 5 to 7 pounds)
1 head garlic, broken into individual cloves and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped, plus 1 teaspoon leaves
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Crusty rolls or baguette
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a small knife, make several incisions about 1/2 inch long and 1 inch deep all over the pork. Cut garlic cloves in half lengthwise and insert garlic pieces into each incision. Generously season pork all over with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
2. Place celery, carrot, onion and bay leaves in a large roasting pan. Lay pork butt on top, fat side up.
3. Roast pork for 30 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 300 degrees. Add chicken stock, wine and tomatoes to roasting pan. Continue to cook pork until internal temperature registers 190 degrees with an instant-read thermometer and meat is fork-tender, another 3 to 4 hours. If pork begins to brown too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil.
4. Transfer pork to a platter and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes. Using a fine sieve, strain cooking liquid. Skim off as much fat as you can and reserve.
5. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, stirring constantly until a light brown roux is formed, 7 to 8 minutes. Whisk in remaining 4 or so cups of drippings, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and reaches the consistency of sauce, about 10 minutes. Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
6. When pork is cool enough to handle, shred with a fork, then add it along with the sauce back to a large pan and reheat. Serve on crusty rolls or baguette, garnished as desired.
NOTE: If you are also making boudin balls, set aside 1 cup drippings before skimming fat from cooking liquid, and 1 pound of pork just after it emerges from the oven. You will be left with enough meat for about 8 to 10 sandwiches. CREOLE SPICED SHRIMP
Time: 30 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
1/2 cup kosher salt
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon allspice
2 lemons, halved
4 fresh bay leaves
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
48 medium shrimp, shells cut down the back and veins removed
1. Fill a large pot with about 2 gallons of water. Add all ingredients except shrimp and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and continue to simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes.
2. Add shrimp to pot and return to a simmer. Cover, remove pot from heat and let stand until shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, discard the boil, and refrigerate shrimp until chilled, about 1 hour; peel. Serve on top of chowchow, drizzled with some of the vegetables’ pickling liquid, or on a platter with chowchow on the side.Source: Adapted from Brian Landry, Borgne, New Orleans Source: Adapted from Brian Landry, Borgne, New Orleans Source: Adapted from Brian Landry, Borgne, New Orleans Source: Adapted from Brian Landry, Borgne, New Orleans