A couple weeks ago, I wrote this piece extolling the virtues of a nice home meal. Just so you don’t think I’m a hypocrite, I want to show a bit of what I was up to in the kitchen over the weekend.
The Super Bowl is a big food day regardless of where you are in the country. However, given that the New England Patriots were one of the teams competing this year, the game naturally took on extra significance in Boston, where I currently reside. It seemed only fitting to have a small shindig at my house featuring a few of my favorite dishes for my friends to enjoy.
My theme was “Ohio.” Ohio’s deep football tradition is evident around the state, from the historic Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals to the juggernaut Ohio State Buckeyes, alongside a true “Friday Night Lights” high school football culture. The biggest football game of the year begs for some Ohio representation!
As a native Clevelander with Polish roots, pierogi have long been a favorite of mine. For the Super Bowl, I thought it was appropriate to fuse a little Americana into this ethnic staple in making Buffalo Chicken pierogi with blue cheese as a sour cream substitute.
I also had a little Cincinnati chili. In case you are unfamiliar with this dish, it’s not really “chili” per se. What makes it specifically “Cincinnati chili” is spaghetti covered in the chili (a “two-way”). If you add shredded cheddar on top of the chili, it is now a “three-way.” Have a hankering for onions on top of that? Four-way. Kidney beans too? Five-way. Since the Super Bowl is a go-big-or-go-home occasion, I opted for the five-way (or at least the potential five way; diners were able to pick and choose which toppings they wanted). Created by Macedonian immigrants to the “Queen City” one hundred years ago, Cincinnati chili remains popular in southwest Ohio today. The rest of the state might be familiar with Skyline brand Cincinnati chili, but I’ve found my own to taste better. I really love making this dish because it’s something that New Englanders have never heard of, let alone sampled before. It has an interesting flavor: beef with cinnamon, cocoa, all spice, cheddar and spaghetti. Must be tried to understand!
To represent the capital of Ohio, Columbus, as well as my alma mater, the Ohio State University, making the traditional “buckeye” desert was a necessity. The genius is in the simplicity and the presentation: just get some sugar, butter, vanilla extract and peanut butter and mix it all up and shape it into little balls, freeze them with toothpicks poking out, melt some chocolate chips, dip the frozen balls into the chocolate (leaving the top exposed to make them look like buckeyes, a poisonous nut found only in Ohio that looks a bit like a Chestnut, but IS NOT A CHESTNUT!!!), then freeze them again before enjoying.
We also had some chips and homemade pretzels out for the game. The party ended up being a great time just with the food alone. The incredible Patriot comeback didn’t hurt either. Even though it was a joyous night for New England, it still felt right to have those little pieces of Ohio with me.