Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Super Bowl Sunday Blog Post

I've been putting off the "Super Bowl Sunday Blog Post" for a few nights now. Maybe because writing about it means that football season really is over and I have to wait 8 months before MNF and my nascent education of the game resumes, for I am like a bud only starting to blossom. Perhaps this signifies a bigger sea-change for me; March Madness isn't far off.

I was worried about the Super Bowl menu being too redundant: Polish-American fare from one cold winter climate meeting German-American fare from a colder winter climate results in plenty of and possibly too much meat and starch and cheese. But as I sat down with the task of really getting to the regional specialties (or at least in my fantasy world), I was able to design a menu with both subtle contrasts and harmonies. For the first of 3 courses, we had Wisconsin beer cheese fondue made with cheddar, comte, a touch of worcestershire and a can of Hamms, my favorite domestic beer. The secret to making a smooth "American" style cheese fondue is to whisk in some flour or cornstarch while it's melting, and whisk the shit out of it until it's uniform. This will keep the fat separating from the liquid and probably keeps the fat from exiting your body once consumed. This was served with chunks of light rye and grilled kielbasa. Laura also brought the makings of a Wisconsin cheese plate with limburger, liverwurst, pumpernickel and pickled herring.

To represent Pittsburgh in the starter category, I made a tray of Primanti Bros-style sandwiches. When I first heard about these, I thought, "Where has Pittsburgh been all my life?" because though I have been putting cole-slaw and french fries in my sandwiches for years, to do this commercially seems heaven-sent. I lifted a recipe from a local Pittsburgh paper for the authentic coleslaw recipe (sweet and vinegary) and just made frozen french fries ("fast food" thin-style) and used the house-cured honey ham and smoked beef from Edelweiss deli, as well as provolone, a touch of mayo and good old yellow mustard (the last two ingredients probably inauthentic, but they felt right in the moment). As expected, these sandwiches did not disappoint.

Two guests reportedly dipped their Primanti sandwiches in the fondue. Had I followed suit, I might not be alive today. We ate the first wave of food with the knowledge that there were two more courses on their way, but hindsight is 20/20 and it really did no good. By halftime the heartiest eaters were starting to panic over the lack of expanse left in their stomachs. Fortunately, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania's finest cheap beers seemed to help. While the Black Eyed Peas put on one of the worst half-time shows in history, I grilled some brats and fried up pirogies.

The brats steamed slowly in beer and onions for about 2 hours prior. The pirogies were filled with mashed potatoes, melted onions, cheese and sauerkraut. House Special. I filled and cooked them earlier that day and then pan fried them with more caramelized onions and bread crumbs. Believe it or not, I also managed to watch the game, which by all accounts was pretty good for a Super Bowl. It was over before anyone was ready for more food, but dessert didn't care. Laura made a rhubarb-raspberry fit for a Wisconsin Junior League cookbook and Piper brought the makings for banana splits, which were invented in Pittsburgh. Neither I nor any photographers were sober enough to capture the dessert. An alka-seltzer, some strong coffee and a little post-game air jam-band helped with the overall sensation of drowning in food. This week has been all brown rice and vegetables.

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