Thursday, January 24, 2013

Easy Super Bowl Food And Mardi Gras Recipes

On February 3rd, this year's Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans which is also the home of some seriously awesome food.

Mr. ReddHedd and I have enjoyed eating our way around the Big Easy on any number of trips, and there are some easy ways to bring home the taste of New Orleans for an easy and delicious Super Bowl party buffet spread as well.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are so many iconic and fabulous New Orleans foods that would work so well as an easy buffet or nibbles spread for the Super Bowl or even just a small Mardi Gras party.  It occurred to me that folks might enjoy some ideas of things they could make easily -- especially foods that could be made in the slow cooker that wouldn't require a lot of constant watching or stuff that could be easily made ahead before the big game.

Anything that allows you to actually enjoy watching the crazy commercials between downs is a plus in my book.  That's especially true when what you want is to enjoy the whole game rather than feel like you have to constantly cook and serve and never get to sit and enjoy.

An easy New Orleans-style nosh could really make the whole experience easy and fun for someone hosting a Super Bowl party.

In terms of sources, you can't go wrong with Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. This compilation of great recipes from locals, restaurants and the recipe section of the Times-Picayune is essential reading, and was put together after Katrina to help folks recover favorite family recipes lost in the flood waters. It is wonderful stuff, and full of fun stories about Cajun and Creole traditions, too. Marcelle Bienvenue is a treasure all by herself.  And don't overlook the recipe section of the Times-Picayune -- some wonderful recipes in their searchable database, too.

Here are a few ideas for your easy and yummy New Orleans style super bowl feast:

It wouldn't be a New Orleans themed food party without some delicious Red Beans and Rice.   All the better if you can make it easily in your slow cooker, right?

That's what I've been doing the last few years, and it turns out creamy and delicious every time.  The key is to put it on early and let it cook all day long.  For a Super Bowl party, I would probably put it on LOW overnight and let it cook all night long and then most of the next day to really get the beans cooked down to a creamy texture and allow the flavors to meld.  Here's a hint:  if you are outside of New Orleans, finding decent andouille sausage can be tough.  Plain old kielbasa isn't really going to cut it -- the spicy kick of a true andouille makes a huge difference in taste.  Your best bet outside NOLA is to track down some of Bruce Aidell's brand if you can find it.  I can get it at my local Kroger store here in WV, and the flavor and intensity of his sausage is well worth searching for it because the finished pot of beans is killer good.  (Huge hat tip to Judy Walker at the Times-Picayune for publishing the original recipe on which my own slow cooker version of red beans and rice is based.  Bless you!)

This recipe for Shrimp Remoulade is also fantastic and really easy.  You make the remoulade sauce in a food processor the evening before, and then all you have to do is assemble the salad and serve the day of the party.  Easy!

If you don't want to serve it as a salad, the remoulade sauce makes a wonderful dip for cooked shrimp, too.

You can't get more New Orleans easy than a make-ahead muffaletta sandwich for a party, can you?   I like to add some sliced ham to the sandwich along with the sandwich-style sliced pepperoni and salami, though, and I go very heavy on the olive and pickled veggie salad, too.  If you make the sandwich the night before and wrap it up really well in plastic wrap, the dressing soaks nicely into the bread and makes for some yummy eating the next day.

But if you don't have time to make it the night before, no worries.  It tastes just fine making it just before your party starts, too.  Just be sure to give it at least an hour or so, to allow the dressing flavors to soak into the bread a little bit and you'll be in good shape.

If a muffaletta is not your thing, try a roast beef po'boy instead.  I mostly follow Emeril's recipe, but I tweak it a little for our taste buds and make it easier on myself by doing most of the slow braise in my slow cooker.  Here's what I do:


1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
10 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in 1/2 lengthwise
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 large onion, cut into small dice
2 c. beef broth (pref. a strong consumme)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Tony Cachere's creole seasoning (salt free if you can find it)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 to 2 long po'boy or French bread loaves, pref. the crusty, crackly sort
Mayonnaise, for dressing sandwiches
10 ounces grated provolone cheese
Thinly shredded iceberg lettuce, for dressing sandwiches
Very thinly sliced tomatoes, for dressing sandwiches
Red hot sauce, for dressing sandwiches, optional

Take a sharp knife, and poke some deep slits into the roast.  Shove the garlic cloves as deeply into the center of the roast as you can, all over so that the flavor of the garlic will be evenly distributed through the entire roast. Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper, rubbing all over to coat the meat well.  Allow to sit on the counter for about 20 minutes, to bring the roast up to temperature and allow the salt to soak into the meat.  (I like to do this the night before and let the roast sit in the fridge, covered, overnight.  Then I pull it out of the fridge in the morning and let it sit for 30 minutes on the counter to come up to temperature.)  Just prior to cooking, dust the roast with flour on all sides.

Heat EVOO in large Dutch Oven over medium-high to high heat.  Add diced onion to oil and cook until onion just softens and starts to brown at the edges.  Push to the sides of the pan and add roast, browning well on all sides to get a nice crust on the meat.

Once it is browned well on all sides, pull out the roast and onions and scrape into the bowl of your slow cooker.

Pour beef broth into Dutch oven and deglaze the pan, scraping up every brown bit that will budge so that you salvage all that yummy flavor.  Pour broth and browned bits into the slow cooker over the meat.  Add bay leaf, creole seasoning and Worcestershire sauce to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours, until the meat is falling apart and can be easily shredded with a couple of forks.

I like to toast my bread a little before putting the cheese on one side, then topping with shredded beef and drippings, then spread the top of the bun with mayo, lettuce and tomato and topping the sandwich with it.  I like to mix the hot sauce into the mayo for some kick.  Seriously yummy stuff.

Prior posts with even more recipes:

-- Tailgating and Potluck Recipes
-- New Orleans Recipes
-- Crockpot Sticky Chicken Drumsticks and Thighs
-- Healthier Superbowl Recipes
-- Crockpot Recipe-O-Rama

(Photo by Christy Hardin Smith, taken in Jackson Square in New Orleans.  All rights reserved.)

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