For the football fan, this week, more than any other week, is an alloy of the bitter and the sweet. Since early January the collegians have been back at their typewriters and Bunsen burners, and each professional playoff game means that one fewer team is still playing football in the current season. But it must be thus. In Tampa, this Sunday, this process reaches its grim denouement, as the crowning of a champion of Super Bowl XLIII means an end to another season of football, and a transition to a long, cold winter of draft projections and injury rehab updates.
However, it must be so: for there to be a champion, there must be an end to the season. The contenders in this particular game represent a culinary Gordian knot, for neither Arizona nor Pittsburgh has a strong culinary tradition. (There is, more generally, Southwestern food for Arizonans, and kielbasa salad for Pittsburgh, but not the sort of thing most Americans would want to hang their hats on as they show off their new economy-stimulating HDTVs to their friends, neighbors, and lovers.
Instead, for this championship, for this moment where Troy Polamalu drives Kurt Warner's face into the aquifers deep beneath Raymond James Stadium, we turn to the figurative. Rather than a thematic link with the homes of these teams, wise fans will embrace the spirit of this content by consuming the spirit of their teams.
For the Cardinals, this is not difficult. Cardinals are birds. Birds have wings. Wings, when deep fried, tossed in sauce and blue cheese dressing, are a delicious snack.
For the Steelers, the nut is not so easy to crack. They are the only major sports franchise named after an inedible substance (sorry, Padres). Further flights of the imagination are called for. As Gurgling Cod reader Homer pointed out, Steelhead are a kind of salmon. As it happens, the finesse of a salmon pate is the perfect counterpoint to the baser delights of wings. And the quarterback of the Steelers has experienced concussions both on and off the field, giving a twist to the very idea of a "steelhead," and reminding us that the world we inhabit is one of shadows and dust. Enjoy the big game! The recipes follow.
1 c. Butter
2 c. Frank's
1/2 c. Tabasco+
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
1/5 c. Cider Vinegar
10+ oz. Blue Cheese
1/2 c. Buttermilk
1/2 c. Sour Cream
1/3 c. Mayonnaise
1/4 c. White Wine Vinegar
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
15 lb Wings
4 tsp cayenne
4 tsp black pepper
3/4 c. cornstarch
1) Melt the butter, and combine with the other sauce ingredients.
2) Mash up the cheese, and mix with the other dressing ingredients.
3 ) Cut up and toss the wings in batches in the pepper/cornstarch/cayenne mix.
4) Heat a pot full of peanut oil to 375.
6) Fry the wings in batches until done, toss in the sauce, and serve with the dressing. Some people like celery.
8 oz. smoked Steelhead salmon (get it?)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 Shallot, minced
1) Combine salmon (use smoked salmon, but the kind that comes in chunks, not the kind that is sliced), with cream cheese in blender.
2) Thin to desired consistency with sour cream
3) Stir in shallot, and season to taste with Tabasco, salt, and pepper.
4) Garnish with capers, and serve with crackers.