What’s wrong with me? I’ve been a food writer for The Telegraph for almost 20 years (What? Where does time go?) and I’m married to a football coach, but I’ve never written an article about the Super Bowl! Please, forgive me. I will right this wrong today.
I am a huge football fan. I grew up in a football family. Both my father and my brother were football players, and then I met, fell in love with and married a football coach. What’s not to love about the game of football? In my opinion, it is the quintessential American sport.
I watched my brother play football from the time he was knee-high to a grasshopper, all the way through high school. Growing up in upstate South Carolina, I would occasionally join my family for a Furman or Clemson game (Go Tigers!) In college at Carson-Newman, going to the football games was about the only excitement to be found in the small town of Jefferson City, Tennessee.
My husband, Bill, and I eagerly await the return of college football every fall, faithfully cheering for LSU (Bill’s alma matter) and attending Mercer University games whenever possible — love those Bears! Once, several years ago, Bill and I attended a New Orleans Saints game while visiting Bill’s hometown of New Orleans — indeed, a highlight of my life! And New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees ... be still my heart! Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m old enough to be his mother — bless my heart!
I met Bill while we were both on staff at North Greenville College (now, university). Being married to a football coach, I have learned to love the game of football on a whole other level. I’m still learning about different strategies and have gained a greater appreciation for the sport.
For me, being the wife of a coach is also about football food. Whether tailgating, snacking at home while being an armchair quarterback or after-game gatherings, the menu is always gonna be a fun one.
Today I’ll share with you the recipes for some of my favorite football food. We’ll start with a sandwich for hearty appetites, my Hot and Crusty Mega Muffuletta Loaf. This is my favorite football food! It’s an over-stuffed crusty loaf of bread filled with a half-pound (each!) of deli-sliced smoked ham, beef pastrami, hard salami, Swiss cheese and provolone.
But wait, that’s not all! Before being wrapped in foil and baked until crisp, hot and gooey with melted cheese, this huge beauty gets filled with a marinated mixed olive salad drenched with an olive oil dressing. It easily serves four hearty appetites, eight if smaller portions are desired, and up to 12 lady-like servings.
Need a recipe for some great eats with tortilla chips? Make up a batch of my Queso Blanco, Pico de Gallo and Guacamole and dip until your heart’s content.
And it just wouldn’t be right to have a Super Bowl party without steaming bowls of chili. I’ll give you a fabulous recipe for Black Bean & Sausage Chili that can be prepared and served in about 30 minutes and is super-duper delicious.
Make sure you have plenty of toppings on hand so that each guest can customize their own bowl — toppings such as sour cream, minced fresh jalapeno peppers, cilantro, green onions and grated cheeses. Place the pot (or crockpot) of chili near the cheese dip, pico and guacamole for even more game-time snacking pleasure.
As far as beverages go, I’ll let you make that decision. Just make sure that if you’re enjoying the game with friends and family at your home and serving alcohol, play it safe and cut-off the drinking during the second half of the game. We want to make sure everyone arrives home safely.
For the second half, switch to a selection of sodas or fruit-infused water. Maybe even put on a pot of coffee to go along with a few pick-up sweets such as cookies and brownies.
I hope you’re excited about the Atlanta Falcons making it to Super Bowl LI (that’s 51). You better believe I’ll be watching the game somewhere. Let’s cheer on those Dirty Birds to victory. For my New Orleans Saints … there’s always next year!
Hot and Crusty Mega Muffuletta Loaf
ITALIAN OLIVE SALAD:
1 cup pimento stuffed olives, drained
1 cup ripe olives, drained
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 (16-ounce) jar pickled artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup mixed pickled garden vegetables, drained
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil OR 2 teaspoons dried
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano OR 2 teaspoons dried
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 large loaf French bread (NOT a baguette)
8 ounces thinly sliced baked ham
8 ounces thinly sliced provolone
8 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
8 ounces thinly sliced pastrami
To make the Olive Salad: In the workbowl of a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process in pulses until coarsely chopped. Combine olive salad with remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly blended. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.
To make the Sandwich Loaf: Slice loaf of French bread in half, lengthwise. On bottom half of the loaf, layer meats and cheeses in order of ingredient listing. On top half of bread loaf, heap on the olive salad, including the juices. Sandwich the loaf together. Cut loaf in half and wrap each half securely in heavy-duty foil.
Place side-by-side in the center of a preheated oven set at 350 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. Open foil and expose the sandwich. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and place on a cutting board. Slice into servings, securing each serving with a tooth pick. Serve hot with plenty of napkins!
Note: This sandwich is also great served cold if you don’t have access to an oven. It is perfect fare for a tailgate party or picnic.
Serves 12-16 as an appetizer or up to eight an as entree sandwich.
Queso Blanco (White Mexican Cheese Dip)
2 cups half and half
1 pound Land of Lakes brand white American cheese, grated (deli department of store)
Place half and half in a large microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave until boiling. Stir in grated cheese. Cook in microwave on high stirring at 30 second intervals, cooking until all cheese is melted, smooth and cheese dip is very hot. Serve with warmed salted tortilla chips.
Recipe additions: This cheese dip is in its simplest form, but if your tastebuds crave a bit more substance to the dip, try these additions: 1 teaspoon dried cumin, 8 ounces cooked and crumbled sausage, a small can of diced green chiles, diced fresh jalapeno peppers or a small can of chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Makes 4 cups.
Pico de Gallo
7 finely chopped jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed before chopping
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients and stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.
Makes about 2 cups.
3 avocados (ripe, but not too ripe)
3/4 cup (+/-) prepared pico de gallo
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
Split avocados in half, lengthwise, and remove the pits. Dice the avocado flesh and combine with the remaining ingredients. Stir or mash to combine until desired texture is reached.
Serve immediately or store, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve (up to three hours ahead.) Stir before serving.
Makes about 3 cups.
Speedy Black Bean & Sausage Chili
1 pound pork breakfast sausage (I prefer Jimmy Dean)
1 1/2 cups medium-diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chicken or beef broth
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium-high heat, stirring to crumble.
Add onion and cook until crisp-tender. Add garlic and cook 1 minute before adding the taco seasoning, oregano and cumin. Stir to blend. Add the remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for at least 15 minutes.
Cheesy Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
2 (6 1/4-ounce) jars marinated artichokes, drained and chopped
8 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl. Blend together well. Transfer to a greased 2-quart casserole dish or deep-dish pie plate. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until browned and bubbly
Let stand to cool down; it will be very hot. Serve with toasted bread or pretzel crisps.