Super Bowl Food Fight: Indy Vs. Big Easy Football fans are looking forward to this Sunday's Super Bowl –- and a day full of good food. But the menu doesn't have to be limited to pizza and nachos. We asked two chefs from the Colts' and Saints' hometowns about what they'd be cooking this weekend.
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Super Bowl Food Fight: Indy Vs. Big Easy

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Super Bowl Food Fight: Indy Vs. Big Easy

Super Bowl Food Fight: Indy Vs. Big Easy

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

We all know what's coming up on Sunday, and right now some of us are thinking, not just about football, but also about food. But a Super Bowl Sunday menu does not have to be limited to pizza, nachos and beer.

We're joined, now, by two people who have better ideas about what to serve for the Super Bowl.

From our member station WWNO in New Orleans, Donald Link is chef and owner of the restaurants Herbsaint and Cochon, and author of the cookbook, Real Cajun. And from member station WFYI in Indianapolis, Regina Mehallick is chef and owner of R Bistro and author of Regina's Seasonal Table. Welcome to both of you.

Ms. REGINA MEHALLICK (Chef; Author, Regina's Seasonal Table): Hello.

Mr. DONALD LINK (Chef; Author, Real Cajun): Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Donald, let's start with you. What are you gonna cook for Super Bowl Sunday.

Mr. LINK: Well, first I'm gonna cheat a little bit and get some sausage and salami from my butcher shop, just for snacks. But what I usually do with the sausage for the first part of the day, is I usually just go cook it in sauerkraut, serve it with mustard, maybe some apples, some Riesling - very German style.

WERTHEIMER: Hmm.

Mr. LINK: But the main dish I always cook is the seafood gumbo.

(Soundbite of laughter)

WERTHEIMER: Seafood gumbo and sausage and sauerkraut - sounds like a kind of a weird combination.

Mr. LINK: Yeah, you kinda got - you know, I always throw the Super Bowl party, and my parents did when I was a kid, so it's kind of a tradition. It's an all day thing. So you have the daytime event with the pre-show and that's when we do sausages and the beer. That's kind of the snack portion, and then that rolls into seafood gumbo, and that's where the second part of the crew comes over for the actual game part.

WERTHEIMER: Regina, I know you specialize in using fresh local ingredients in your restaurant. So what kind of Indiana food goes into the Super Bowl meal?

Ms. MEHALLICK: Well, I did some thought and careful consideration, and definitely thought we should have blue popcorn...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MEHALLICK: ...because corn is popular here in Indiana.

WERTHEIMER: Didn't - I always thought Orville Redenbacher had big popcorn fields in Southern Indiana at one point.

Ms. MEHALLICK: Yes, that's true. Yes, he started here. And so one of the things that are famous here in Indiana is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MEHALLICK: And it's classically served with tomato, onion and pickle.

WERTHEIMER: Oh my goodness.

Ms. MEHALLICK: It's pounded pork tenderloin, and you Panko-crust it and fry it and then serve it with those condiments, and it is pretty yummy.

WERTHEIMER: So it's kind of like pork chop Milano sorta, kinda?

Ms. MEHALLICK: Yes, that's true, yes. And then in that same vein of using some local food items, here in Indiana, we're the largest producers of duck. So, maybe some duck wings - done the classic way the chicken wings would be done.

WERTHEIMER: Hmm. Now, Don, you talk about the Super Bowl in your cookbook Real Cajun and you describe a big family event - multigenerational thing. How many people come? What's it like?

Mr. LINK: Oh, well, the parties here, you know, they're a little tamer. Well, this one in particular because the Saints are in it. It's not going to be quite the barn burner they usually are.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINK: Yeah, this could, this one is - I want to sit down, I don't want to be distracted, actually going to watch the game, whereas in the past, well, you know, we can get up to 30 people at our Super Bowl parties, maybe 40 - and some of those cycle through. And in my younger days - not that I'm old - but in my 20s we used to always play football. That was a big part of our day, you know. So we'd eat and snack and then go out and tackle each other and play football in the yard.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINK: And then we'd all kind of settle down, you know, and the drinking's settled down quite a bit too in the last few years.

WERTHEIMER: Well, I understand that you had to do some post-Katrina repairing in your house and you remodeled with the Super Bowl in mind. Is that true?

Mr. LINK: Yeah, well, we started that before the Hurricane. We had almost just finished with this renovation when our house flooded.

WERTHEIMER: Oh, great.

Mr. LINK: But it was, you know - because every year we have so many people over for the Super Bowl, and we want to make sure that everybody has a real good vantage point to the TV and recourse to the food. So the design, when we redesigned our new house, we designed it with a huge wraparound counter with lots of bar seats and then the dining room off that and then the living room kind of at an angle. You know, we actually stood where the stove was going to go and lined it up to where the TV would be, just to make sure that we had the broadest view of the TV, and the

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. LINK: ...and the whole thing was purely just for that day.

WERTHEIMER: Regina, what about the restaurant? Have you - are you working on anything that's special to the Colts or gives some kind of nod to this event.

Ms. MEHALLICK: We have lots of blue things at the restaurant. Well, I have blue flowers in my flower arrangements. We got cadet blue napkins for the table, for dinner service this week. We have flags hanging up. One of my staff is making Colts blue ties for all my front-of-the-house people to wear. I mean, everybody is just in the spirit.

WERTHEIMER: Don, this is obviously huge for New Orleans to have the Saints in the Super Bowl finally, finally.

Mr. LINK: Yes, finally.

WERTHEIMER: I guess this is a big lift for the Big Easy.

Mr. LINK: Yeah, it's a - this is - I'm getting kind of chills just thinking about it to say it, but with Mardi Gras this weekend and the Saints in the Super Bowl, I mean, this is a fantastic time to be here. I remember I was on my layover yesterday, I called my wife and, you know, said, you know, I'm on my way and she was well, you're coming back to a great, great, fun city right now.

She said the city's charged up and people are happy and there'll be parades this weekend. It's gonna be fantastic. I mean, what a good thing for the city.

WERTHEIMER: Indiana has not exactly been unscathed by this recession, Regina. Are you feeling that Super Bowl mania is coming to you as well?

Ms. MEHALLICK: Oh, my goodness, yes. There have been so many pep rallies and gatherings, and people dressed in blue and white clothes. I even have my Super Bowl Colt shirt on right now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MEHALLICK: It's just, you know, this is a big sports city and everybody is all out excited. This is just a happy time. It's bringing people together. Lots of people on the street are saying hello and Go Colts. So we're pretty excited.

WERTHEIMER: Well, good luck to both of you on Sunday.

Mr. LINK: Thanks.

Ms. MEHALLICK: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: Thank you very much for joining us.

Regina Mehallick is chef and owner of R Bistro in Indianapolis, and Donald Link is chef and owner of HerbSaint restaurant in New Orleans. You can find recipes from both of them on npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. MEHALLICK: Donald, good luck, but I hope we win.

Mr. LINK: Who dat?

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

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