This Sunday, millions of football fans will huddle around televisions all across the country to watch the New England Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, and it goes without saying that many of them will do so with a plate of grub and a cold beer in their hands.
Because your Super Bowl party has a spread to pick at, that doesn’t mean it’s the right spread, and we’ve all had enough rubbery hot dogs and funky dips to know that bad food will turn any party sour.
Fortunately, for those hosts and hostesses who want to up their culinary game, we’ve brought together two acclaimed chefs from either side of the U.S. to give your Super Bowl menu the upgrade it deserves, with a regional menu for the big game that is sure to fit the appetites of either fan base.
Since its inception, Taste of the NFL has raised more than $22 million to help food banks across America, and Howie has been a part of the last 10, to date.
Along with player partner Craig Terrill, a former Seahawks defensive tackle, Howie has won the Kick Hunger Challenge each of the last two years, bringing $43,000 and $93,000, respectively, back to Seattle Food Lifeline. This year, the pair expects to raise more.
The Seattle chef’s book
"It looks like we’re going to be over $100,000," Howie told FOX Sports in a phone interview this week. "It’s a huge deal and the money all goes to Seattle Food Lifeline, and that can provide five meals on every dollar. So we get $100,000 and that’s a half a million meals, and that’s all for people in our city."
Across the country, Steve DiFillippo is the chef and CEO at Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse. Originally based in Boston, Davio’s now has four locations in Massachusetts as well as locations in New York, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and this year, he’ll be participating in his fourth Party with a Purpose, making gnocchi bolognese for the thousands in attendance.
For DiFillippo, the opportunity to raise money specifically for the Greater Boston Food Bank is more than worth the hassle that comes with transporting 7,000 gnocchis, 25 gallons of bolognese and 25 pounds of grated cheese across the country.
"It’s right up our alley," DiFillippo told FOX Sports. "I’ve raised a lot of money for a lot of charities, but to be tied to something that I love, which is football, and also helping people who need to be fed, it’s just a beautiful thing. It’s one of the best things I do, and I really love being part of the organization.
"Wayne (Kostroski), who runs the event, is one of those people you’d jump off a bridge for, he’s a wonderful guy, and the group of men and women who get together for this thing — it just makes you feel so good. Sometimes with charities, it feels like nobody knows where the money is going but sometimes you help and it’s just so gratifying, and this is one of those that I just look forward to every year.
"I’ll be doing this the rest of my life. It’s an important event, it raises a lot of money and we’re really making a difference."
Dungeness crab and artichoke dip!
In addition to their charity work, Howie and DiFillippo can both also make the difference that puts your Super Bowl XLIX party over the top, so without further ado, here are a few menu ideas (and a couple recipes, straight from the chefs) for you to try this weekend:
JOHN HOWIE’S SEATTLE SUPER BOWL SPREAD
Hot Dungeness Crab, Artichoke and Green Chile Dip:
"The green chile is just a subtle hint to it, so there’s not a lot in it and it’s a mild green chile. So you get a little bit of the southwestern flare to that, but it’s not spicy. There’s actually parmesan cheese in it too, to that comes through, but the crab is primarily what you want to promote, and that’s a big, strong, Washington item, the Dungeness.
"There are a couple different potential vehicles (for eating it). One is just sliced baguette, which works great, or in this case, if it’s a situation where a lot of people are going to be dipping into it, I’m going to just serve it with green and blue tortilla chips, for the Seahawks.
"(Dungeness crabs) are Pacific, so you can catch them really anywhere as far south as San Francisco and as far north as Alaska. But that is our local crab, where Alaska has king crab and down south in San Francisco they also have a lot of rock crabs. Primarily, what we have is Dungeness.
"King crab is very different because it’s so meaty and it’s very large – a meaty product that is a bright, white meat with large chunks. Dungeness is a very rich-flavored crab. Some people think of it as the most flavorful crab that we have out there. Blue crab is pretty flavorful, as well, but out of a Dungeness, you get great claws and great leg meat in addition to the body meat, where with blue crabs it’s mostly the body meat."
Wasabi-Spiced Deviled Eggs with Salmon Gravlax:
"Salmon gravlax is kind of a raw, cured salmon. It’s salmon that’s been cured with dill and salt, so it’s not really a smoked salmon, but it would still go good on bagels and stuff. So you take that, and you mix it with some fresh citrus and some tangerine, some fresh dill and a little chopped up onion, and we put that on top of the deviled egg.
"And then on top of that is what’s called a wasabi tobiko. Wasabi tobiko is a wasabi-infused flying fish caviar, so that’s a really great dish and you get a lot of fun kick out of it, and the salmon, the wasabi and the creaminess of the egg really work well together.
"With the wasabi that’s in the egg mixture, you don’t use a whole lot. You just use wasabi paste, and that goes into the mixture with the mustard and the cayenne pepper — the usual things you put in deviled eggs — the mayonnaise. The wasabi is just in there to kind of slightly flavor it, and then the wasabi tobiko is not as spicy as regular wasabi. It’s the flying fish caviar that has been soaked in a wasabi brine, so it gets this green color and has a little pop to it, but it still tastes like caviar, with just a little bit of heat."
Kalbi Pork Tenderloin:
"Kalbi is sort of like a spicy Korean teriyaki, and we have a large Korean population up here. So it’s a sweet soy with red chiles and ginger and scallions in the mixture, and you marinate slices of pork tenderloin, then you sear them in a pan.
"You’ve probably had a teriyaki beef tenderloin at a steakhouse somewhere; it’s kind of like that, only with pork tenderloin, and it’s got a little more kick to it. A little kick and a really bold ginger-soy-sesame flavor. And it’s real simple because it’s just seared in a sauté pan real quickly, get a little browning turn it over, a touch of sauce in the pan when it’s almost done, and out it comes.
"If you were talking stars (for heat), it’s probably a one star. I call it a spicy teriyaki because there’s really no spice in teriyaki, no heat. This has a little crushed red chile and that type of stuff. It’s not going to burn anybody’s mouth — just enough to kind of taste it."
"It’s an all-meat chili other than onion, tomato, crushed chilis and ground chilis — ancho and chipotle, a touch of habanero, but just a very small amount for the amount of chili there is — and just a little bit of pineapple juice.
"(The pineapple juice) brings it a touch of sweetness and kind of helps to break down the meats a little bit. Because you use kind of a stewing meat in this, so it’s going to cook for a long time. Then we just top it with some fresh salsa, a little cheddar cheese and some crispy tortilla strips, and that’s a meal, basically.
"It takes probably about four hours, but it’s a little easier to prepare so you can actually watch the game."
"It’s pretty darn tasty, and you can pre-make those, too. You just pre-make them, finish them with a little sugar at the end and just cook the top and they’re great. The flavor is amazing, just a really great finish, but it’s not the big carbohydrate blast. At the end of a Super Bowl party, you’re probably not up for (a heavy dessert) so it’s great for closing out the night."
Steve DiFillippo, our Boston chef
STEVE DIFILLIPPO’S NEW ENGLAND SUPER BOWL SPREAD:
Kobe Meatball Sliders:
"I’m an Italian-American, so you’ve got to have my mom’s meatballs. The meatballs are a big deal, so we always do meatballs, and they’re great to make with the kids. We all kind of make them together, and it’s a lot of fun.
"The secret to my meatballs – they’re veal, beef and pork – is that we use Kobe hamburger. There’s a lot more fat in Kobe so there’s a lot more flavor. The other secret to our meatballs, really is how we do them. It takes two days to make our meatballs. So you make the mix one day and you don’t make them until the next day, and then after you finish frying them, you cook them for three hours in a marinara sauce, and then you take them out of the sauce and put them back in the refrigerator and heat them up the next day.
"So the meatballs are a two-day process and that’s why they are so tender, so soft. And then when we make the meatballs, we take the bread crumbs that we put in there and we soak them in milk, because the milk is a tenderizer of the meat. A lot of people think they know how to make meatballs, but they really don’t."
"We started these spring rolls in the restaurant, originally, with Philly cheesesteak, where we’d take a Philly cheesesteak and put it into a roll. Our spring rolls are very light – they’re not egg rolls, they’re spring rolls, so they have a very light wrapper. They’re not heavy. And we’ve got a lot of different flavors now: a ruben one, a buffalo chicken, a shrimp one, chicken parm, mac and cheese, and we’re in over 3,000 stores around the country and these couple weeks are probably our busiest time of the year for those.
"But my favorite is the original, the Philly. It’s something that I really enjoy. You wouldn’t think an Italian, Portuguese guy would be selling spring rolls, but it’s one of those things we got into and it works out really well."
New England Clam Chowder in Bread Bowls
"It’s usually cold and windy up here, so you’ve got to have a chowder or some type of stew. So I’ll make a chowder or a minestrone or some type of hot soup for the game. You’ve got to have that at the Super Bowl.
"Obviously, having fresh clams is important, but I think what happens is that people tend to overcook everything – the potatoes, the clams, everything is overcooked. So what I do is when I make the chowder, I make the base and blanch the potatoes ahead of time, so the potatoes are cooked and I don’t have to worry about cooking the potatoes because they’re already done.
"But I assemble it all at the end. I don’t use any flour in mine, and I just let the cream reduce, and I put the clams in, literally, at the very end, just to warm them up. That, to me, is the secret to a good clam chowder, so when you’re eating it, the clams are moist and not dry and hard. We’ve all had some really crappy chowders, but the key to a good one is cooking it right, so it’s not like a mush, and then sometimes I’ll add a little crispy bacon on top. We put bacon in the base, but you’ve got to add it up top."
Maine Lobster and Spinach Dip with Grilled Pasta Chips:
"Being from New England, we always have something with lobster. Kids love lobster and it’s great, and everyone loves a dip, too.
"So it’s very simple: We take the lobster out of the shell – similar to making a lobster salad — and we add a ton of spinach to it and then we add some sour cream, a little mayo, so it’s not so spinachy. Everyone’s had spinach dip, but this is more of a lobster with spinach. The lobster is the main thing, the big deal in the dish. That’s what makes it, and it’s hearty and it’s not that different from a lobster roll. You could take it and put it in a hot dog bun or put it with some bread and make a sandwich.
"And then what we do (for the chips) is we take fresh pasta, make the pasta, and we put flavoring inside the dough. So we’ll put fresh herbs in there or different kinds of cheese or garlic, and then when the dough comes out of the pasta maker, we’ll cut them into triangles and then fry them. So it’s literally fried pasta chips, and they’re pretty good, a couple inches long, and they go well with a lot of dips They’re different."
Grilled Maple Glazed Bacon Wrapped Shrimp:
"In New England, we love bacon, so we’ll always wrap shrimp or scallops or pork tenderloin or chicken – there’s always something wrapped with bacon, and I love the smell of that in the oven.
"Bacon is one of those ingredients that enhances the flavor of other foods, so when you put bacon with seafood or anything, it actually makes that other ingredient taste better. It’s kind of like salt and pepper. You add salt and pepper to things and they taste better, and that’s what happens with bacon. Wouldn’t you rather have bacon-wrapped chicken or bacon-wrapped shrimp than just shrimp?"
The perfect cocktail
Ice Cream Sundae:
"It’s easy. Go buy premium ice cream, hot chocolate sauce, whipped cream, nuts and make a sundae bar – maybe with some butterscotch sauce, too. I mean, who doesn’t love sundaes? So just set up a bar where everybody comes and adds M&Ms, whatever, and just makes their own different concoction.
"I love to do interactive things with the kids and people at a party, and it just makes it so much fun. Everybody always wants to hang out in my kitchen, so I put them to work, but it’s a lot of fun. Could I make a chocolate cake or some type of dessert if I wanted to? Yeah, but it’s not as good as doing it together and making a party out of it."
KEEL Top Sider Cocktail:
"You’re always going to want a nice, cold Sam Adams, but Matt Light (a former Patriots offensive tackle and DiFillippo’s Taste of the NFL partner) also has his KEEL vodka that we use, and it’s a light vodka, so it has less calories than a regular vodka. I really enjoy that, and you can have it on ice or with fresh juice in there, so that’s always good to have as well.
"For a good postgame drink, I’d try Matt’s Top Sider cocktail. Take 1-1/2 ounces of KEEL vodka, a half-ounce of Cointreau triple sec, a half-ounce each of fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice and fresh cranberry juice and shake with ice. Strain it into a highball glass filled with ice, top the drink off with Sprite and garnish it with a lemon wedge."