The Super Bowl is upon us. Call it what you will: the high holy day of national football mania, an emotional tribal ritual with outpourings of both joy and agony, the Great Annual Avocado Slaughter, or four hours of stultifying boredom.
Whatever your take on it, the big game remains a big deal.
Most football fans will spend Sunday afternoon and evening at home in front of the TV. Many will invite friends over to share in the fun, and in the case of Mile High folks, head-shaking laments on how our Broncos are sitting idle in Denver instead of playing for the Lombardi Trophy in New Orleans.
All that cheering, kvetching and armchair quarterbacking builds quite an appetite.
With this year's Super Bowl once againSuperdome, we offer recipes to create your own Crescent City-style party spread.
These dishes are a mix of one-pot meals and finger food, redolent of Louisiana and its great Cajun and Creole cuisines. Some can be made ahead, and will even benefit from an extra day of letting their flavors meld.
So enjoy these recipes. They should keep your taste buds as stoked as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis in pursuit of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Laissez les bons temps rouler, ya'll.
William Porter: 303-954-1877, wporter@ denverpost.com or twitter.com/ williamporterdp
A taste of new orleans in the mile high city
Here are a few area restaurants where you can find Louisiana-style cooking.
Lucile's Creole Cafe Although it still has its flagship room in Boulder, this popular Cajun-Creole place also has popular Denver and Fort Collins locations. 275 S. Logan St., 303-282-6258; luciles.com
Bayou Bob's Restaurant & Bar Good po'boys at this downtown Denver spot. 1635 Glenarm Place, 303- 573-6828; bayoubobs.com
Gumbo's Popular spot in Denver's Uptown neighborhood. 1033 E. 17th Ave., 720-266-5300; gumbosdining.com
DeDe's Cajun Cuisine This is a mom-and-pop caterer, not a restaurant, but it operates in the metro area. 720-272-0123
Red Beans and Rice
This Emeril Lagasse, the popular New Orleans chef and restaurateur. His recipe called for a pound of ham hocks. I left that out and upped the amount of andouille, a classic spiced Louisiana sausage now found in grocery stores. The tasso, a type of cured ham, might be harder to find. You can substitute any smoked ham. From William Porter, serves: 8-12.
1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
¼ cup chopped tasso or ham
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onions
¾ cup chopped celery
¾ cup chopped green bell peppers
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Andouille sausage is your best bet, but kielbasa, including the turkey variety, works fine.
3 cloves minced garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water
4 cups cooked white rice
¼ cup chopped green onions, garnish
Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the grease in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, if using, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (If the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about ¼ cup at a time.)
Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about one-fourth of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
Creole seasoning, such as the Zatarain's brand, can be found in most grocery stores and specialty markets. From allrecipes.com, makes 10 servings.
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound andouille or smoked sausage, sliced ¼-inch thick
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Creole seasoning to taste
6 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 rotisserie chicken, boned and shredded
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, whisk in flour. Continue whisking until the roux has cooked to the color of chocolate milk, 8 to 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the roux. If you see black specks in the mixture, start over.
Stir onion, bell pepper, celery, and sausage into the roux; cook 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning; blend thoroughly. Pour in the chicken broth and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chicken, and simmer 1 hour more. Skim off any foam that floats to the top during the last hour.
Shrimp and Bacon Bites
A great party dish: big shrimp butterflied and stuffed with mozzarella cheese, wrapped in fried bacon and broiled. From nomenu.com, serves 24.
24 large (16-21 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 ounces mozzarella cheese
12 slices bacon, browned but not crisp2 chopped jalapeño peppers
Wash the shrimp and pat dry. Butterfly them, leaving the tail section intact.
Dice the cheese into pieces a bit smaller than the shrimp. Cut each piece of bacon in half.
Fill the center of each shrimp with about ¼ teaspoon chopped jalapeño. Place a piece of cheese in the center. Wrap each shrimp with a piece of bacon, and secure with a toothpick.
Place the shrimp on a baking pan or pizza pan and broil until they turn pink. Turn the shrimp and return to the broiler until the cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.
Crabmeat and Tasso Sliders
You can use the less-expensive varieties of crabmeat like "special white" (that's the flaky, non-lump white meat) and claw meat here. If you want to go upscale, try using the canned Phillips brand, which is excellent. Especially good with white remoulade. This recipe is from nomenu.com, a New Orleans food website, serves 8.
1 stick butter
1/3 cup milk
1 pound white or claw crabmeat
2 ounces. tasso, diced fine
¼ red bell pepper, chopped
2 green onions, tender green parts only, thinly sliced
1 cup bread crumbs
8 small French bread rolls or kaiser rolls
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 drops Tabasco or other hot sauce
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch salt salt
3 tablespoons green onion tops, finely sliced
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the butter, and melt the rest in a saucepan. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat, as if making a roux, stirring constantly, until the texture changes. Do not allow it to brown.
Add the milk and whisk until well blended into what looks like thin mashed potatoes. This is a bechamel sauce. Remove from heat.
Combine crabmeat, tasso, bell pepper, and green onions. Add this to the bechamel, and stir in gently with a wooden spoon.
Turn the mixture out onto a cutting board. Form round, flat cakes the size of thick hamburgers.
Put the bread crumbs onto a plate and gently press the crab patties down to coat.
Heat the remaining butter to bubbling in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the crab cakes on both sides until a crusty brown.
Combine all the ingredients for the white remoulade.
Warm the bread rolls in the oven. Spread with the remoulade and place a crab cake in each. Baby lettuce makes a nice finishing touch, if you like.
The muffuletta is a classic New Orleans sandwich that originated in the city's famed Central Grocery in the early 20th century. It was first eaten by the local Italian greengrocers who would stop by the grocery for lunch. Traditionally served on a round Sicilian sesame loaf (called a muffuletta, hence the sandwich's name) that is then quartered, it has also morphed into hoagie-style sandwiches and sliders. This recipe from Southern Living magazine serves 12.
1 32-ounce jar Italian olive salad, such as the Boscoli brand
12 small deli rolls, cut in half
12 thin Swiss cheese slices
12 thin deli ham slices
12 thin provolone cheese slices
12 Genoa salami slices
Spread 1 tablespoon olive salad over each cut side of roll bottoms. Top each with 1 Swiss cheese slice, 1 ham slice, 1 tablespoon olive salad, 1 provolone cheese slice, 1 salami slice, and another tablespoon olive salad. Cover with roll tops, and wrap sandwiches together in a large piece of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheeses are melted.cup flour