It’s Super Bowl week guys and even though the Saints aren’t playing in the big game this year, there’s still plenty of energy and excitement in New Orleans. Hosting the event has a little something to do with that. The City’s also smack in the middle of Carnival season (as in Mardi Gras). That equates to full celebration mode from sun up to sun down. Hoorah!
One of the great things about living in or visiting a host city is being able to share in the excitement surrounding the event without having to attend the event (because we all know how expensive those tickets are). The City of New Orleans, having done this a time or two before (this is their 10th hostess gig), has created the ultimate experience. Here’s some of what’s going on in and around town this week:
- Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard, along Woldenberg Park in the French Quarter, featuring four days of music (lineup looks like a mini-Jazz Fest), food and beverages, live national television broadcasts (ESPN’s stage is set up in the parking lot next to the Jax Brewery on Decatur Street and The Talk is broadcasting live all week from Jackson Square), interactive fan events and other goodies.
- Taste of the NFL, at the Convention Center, a meet-and-mingle charity wine and food event featuring a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish alongside a current or former NFL player. There’s also a silent auction with unique sports memorabilia and other exciting items.
- NFL Experience, at the Convention Center. Pro Football’s interactive theme park complete with participatory games, displays, entertaining attractions, kids’ football clinics, free autograph sessions and the largest football memorabilia show ever.
- Media Center Bridgestone Fan Gallery, at the Convention Center, where fans can gain free behind-the-scenes access to portions of the Media Center and watch live interviews of NFL players, celebrities and other athletes and participate in sponsored interactive zones.
- VH1 Best Super Bowl Concert Ever, at the Sugar Mill, featuring Train and a CMT Crossroads taping/performance by Journey and Rascal Flatts! (VHI has 2300 complimentary tickets to these concerts and are also casting 300 die-hard fans to be in the pit).
You can find more info on these attractions and other Super Bowl related events by visiting the New Orleans Host Committee’s website. Another really cool event I just learned about is a live, early-morning performance by Tim McGraw at the House of Blues in the French Quarter (Tim’s a Louisiana boy you know). This particular performance will be broadcast live on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and it’s open to the public on a first-come basis starting at 5 a.m. (that is not a typo) Friday morning! Many of the City’s restaurants and other music venues are also doing neat things in conjunction with the Super Bowl. If you plan on eating out or visiting any of those great places, I suggest you checkout their respective websites for specifics.
For those of you who can’t make it down to New Orleans this week but are looking for a way to enhance your own Super Bowl experience, do as the locals do. Have a Super Bowl party complete with a huge pot of gumbo, some jambalaya, a few of your favorite finger foods and a bucket of local craft beer. Then invite your family and friends over to cheer on their favorite team (or second favorite since the Saints aren’t playing), vote on the best commercial and indulge in all that wonderful food that makes Super Bowl Sunday the nation’s second largest food fest.
Pulled Duck and Sausage Gumbo Recipe
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 4- to 5-pound domestic duck, fully cleaned
3 bay leaves
4 quarts water
1 cup canola oil
1 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced
1 cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
2 tablespoons filé powder
Baked Rice, for serving
In a small bowl, thoroughly combine seasoning mix; set aside. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, make the duck stock by combining the duck (if necessary, cut into pieces to fit into pot), bay leaves and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer until duck is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Skim fat from surface of stock, transfer duck to a large chopping board, strain stock and return stock to pot; keep warm over low heat. In a large heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, make a roux by heating the oil over high heat. Gradually add the flour, whisking carefully and vigorously after each addition until smooth. Continue whisking until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery and jalapeno peppers. Cook, whisking constantly, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and 2 tablespoons of the reserved seasoning mix; cook an additional 2 minutes. Increase heat on stock to medium-high. Once stock comes to a strong simmer, gradually add roux mixture, whisking with each addition until dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Meanwhile, add ground beef and remaining seasoning mix to the same skillet used for the roux. Cook, stirring frequently, until browned; add to roux mixture. Debone the duck and pull the meat apart with your hands or two forks; discard skin and bones. Add the duck, sausage, green onions, Lea & Perrins and filé powder to the roux mixture; cook an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Skim off any fat that rises to the top. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve over Baked Rice with lots of French bread and hot sauce options. Makes 10-12 servings.