Like so many things, the Super Bowl's dream matchup is relative.
Sunday's game, to be played in New Jersey, pits the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos, meaning the NFL's top offense and defense will go toe-to-toe.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and his band of merry millionaires couldn't ask for a purer matchup for their league's biggest prize.
This was the game I wanted to see, but it isn't the game I wanted for planning my traditional spread highlighted by foods made famous in the cities represented on Super Sunday.
Both Denver and Seattle boast vibrant dining scenes, and boast cultures dyed in the local, sustainable wool. But let's face it, Denver is known for its premium microbrews, and Seattle is known for expensive coffee and fish being flung around like Frisbees.
Denver is home to many acclaimed eateries, but the only dish bearing the name of the Broncos playground is the Denver omelet. If I was invited to a Super Bowl party featuring an omelet bar, I'd show up first and leave last, but I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible for that omelet bar — especially if the only omelet the bar featured was the Denver variety. Nothing wrong with a Denver omelet, also known as a Western omelet, but for an occasion as auspicious as one of the most-watched sporting events in the world, I wanted to simplify and embolden the presentation.
Seattle is perhaps the salmon capital of the world. The variety of foods available ranges from Pan-Asian to farm-to-fork rustic cuisine grown and raised in the verdant surroundings, but lox (smoked salmon) and bagels is standard breakfast fare along with one of those $5 coffee concoctions in the Emerald City.
But lox and bagels wouldn't be enough to carry the Super Spread I want. With two breakfast dishes to build upon, it became clear this spread was going to have to bust out some toast to bring the whole thing together. But not just any toast — fresh French baguette. Thin slices of baguette provide a foundation strong enough to withstand grubbing fingers and maintain their integrity throughout the game and a gazillion commercials.
Because both cities are more noted for beverages than specific dishes, a pot of Starbuck's coffee and your favorite Colorado microbrew are a must.
Now, there's one more plot of common ground Seattle and Denver share that is tangentially related to the kind of foodstuffs Super Bowl spreads are wont to feature. Don't be surprised if the National Weather Service reports large plumes of green smoke over the two states where marijuana legalization legislation recently passed. That's why some are calling this Super Bowl the Smoke-A-Bowl. Don't be shocked if the volume of chips, dips, peanut butter crackers, popcorn, cupcakes and candy sold in those two states creates a worldwide shortage.
Denver Omelet Toast with Mile High Heat Salsa
1 baguette sliced into ¼-inch slices
1 Denver Omelet Casserole
½ cup Mile High Heat Salsa
1/3 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baguette slices on an ungreased sheet pan and brush them with oil. Toast until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Set toast aside, and prepare Denver Omelet Casserole. Once the casserole has cooled at least 10 minutes, carve bite-sized pieces out of the casserole and place on toast, top with salsa and serve. The toast is good hot or at room temperature.
Denver Omelet Casserole
½ cup half-and-half cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
16 ounces cooked ham, diced
½ green pepper, diced
½ small onion, diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients to the eggs and stir until combined.
Grease a 9x9 baking dish with butter then pour in the omelet mixture.
Bake uncovered for 22 to 25 minutes.
Allow to cool, then cut out bite-sized squares and serve on 1/4-inch thick toast points. Top with Mile-High Heat Salsa.
Mile High Heat Salsa
6 Roma tomatoes, halved
3 to 6 serrano chilies, halved
¼ white onion
4 to 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place tomatoes, chilies, onion and garlic on a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle everything with olive oil, except the garlic. It won't hurt it to be oiled, but it's unnecessary. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and pepper.
Roast until ingredients are caramelized and beginning to shrivel; the chilies will be ready in about 20 minutes, onions in 30 and tomatoes up to 40 minutes. Remove the garlic when you remove the tomatoes, cut off the tip and allow to cool a few minutes.
Transfer all ingredients into the food processor, except the garlic. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the roasted cloves into the processor. Be sure to scrape out the baking sheet and add any residual liquids and solids into the food processor.
Pulse to desired consistency. If the salsa is too thick, add a little water and blend. If it's too thin, simmer in a small pot for 10 to 15 minutes, allowing it to reduce to the desired consistency.
Serve over Denver Omelet Toast.
Seattle Sea-Lox on Toast with Dill-Scallion Spread
1 baguette, cut into ¼-inch slices
8 ounces smoked salmon
¼ cup capers
1 teaspoon dill fronds
Oil for frying
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups Dill-Scallion Cream Cheese Spread
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place baguette slices on an ungreased sheet pan and brush them with olive oil. Toast until crisp and golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.
In a small skillet or deep-fat fryer, fry the capers in frying oil until crisp, about 1 minute.
Apply the spread to the toast. Top with salmon slices, top with a little more of the spread, a little dill and fried capers.
Dill-Scallion Cream Cheese Spread
8 ounces whipped cream cheese
4 ounces creme fraiche or sour cream
4 scallions, chopped fine
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoon dill fronds
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine cream cheese and creme fraiche and whip together. Add scallions, lemon juice, dill and garlic powder. Combine thoroughly. Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.
Source: Dave Cathey