Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl Crow and Conroy Gumbo!!

For those of you keeping score at home, I missed every way possible in my Super Bowl predictions. 1) The Colts did not win and cover the 5 1/2 pt. spread. 2) The teams did not combine to score more than 55 1/2 pts. 3) Reggie Bush did not run wild 4) The Saints defense was not picked apart and 5) Peyton Manning did not run up the score. Those were the only predictions I made, so it was a clean sweep. Fortunately, the chili was a success; and I don't bet on sports events. Now you know why. Younger brother Lock also knows why, which is why he went to Las Vegas, bet the opposite of all my predictions and won. What happened later at the tables is anyone's guess, but he'd already had a good week, getting out of Washington DC before the snowstorm hit, and then learning that his eldest daughter Katie had become engaged to a wonderful guy.
So he was playing with house money.
As for the game, it should do two things: 1) Stop the coronation of Peyton Manning as the best quarterback of all time. 2) Elevate Drew Brees to superstar status.
Manning is a great, great quarterback. But with only one Super Bowl title, he has a history of problems winning the big one. I think he was hamstrung in this game because of cautious play calling. But it's my understanding Manning has free rein to audible in any situation, so he has to take some responsibility for the Colts' conservative attack. Manning also had trouble finding his rhythm, because after a poor first quarter, Brees kept the Saints' offense on the field most of the remainder of the game--the Colts had only six offensive snaps in the second quarter--marching his team up and down with short, accurate passes and no turnovers. Brees was 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards, and one of those incompletions was a cold whiff by a receiver that let the ball hit him in the facemask. The recovery of the onside kick to start the second half was a huge momentum-changer, but it was Brees who took advantage of the coaching gamble by taking the Saints in for the go-ahead touchdown. After falling behind 10-0, New Orleans outscored the Colts 31-7 the rest of the way. There was no question which team deserved to win.
As for the Super Bowl spectacle: I give it a D-. The Who? Really? From which crypt did the NFL exhume them? Is everyone in that league tone deaf? And completely devoid of common sense? The last time we heard from Pete Townshend was in 2003 when he was arrested in England for having child pornography on his computer. He's a world class creep. Thanks, NFL, for sharing.
And don't get me started on the ads. What was with all the men without pants And beavers? The only one worth its millions was the Letterman, Oprah, Leno bit on the couch, and it only ran for 15 seconds.

Now to the real point of this entry. I fibbed a little. I don't bet money on sports events. But sometimes I do bet things. And childhood classmate Betsy Claggett Smith extracted a promise from me to share my favorite gumbo recipe if the Saints should happen to win. This one comes straight from Pat Conroy's cookbook, which is well worth buying for both its amusing anecdotes and its fine regional recipes. Conroy lives in Beaufort, South Carolina, the Low Country where Forrest Gump was filmed, and where several of Conroy's novels are set. It is also just 20 minutes from Spring Island, where we have a home. Conroy serves this dish at Super Bowl parties, and next year I think I might do the same. It serves 8.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
1 whole chicken
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1 cup celery, diced, plus the leafy tops of a bunch of celery
1 bay leaf
2 tbls. sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced red onion
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3/4 tsp. gumbo file
3/4 tsp. dried thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. coarsely chopped bacon
1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 16-ounce can tomato puree
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined.

Get all the ingredients ready first. This is the perfect activity for the day of the Super Bowl. Then it goes quickly:
1) Place oil and flour in a small saucepan over medium heat and whisk constantly until mixture turns a dark caramel color and smells like toasted almonds. (15 mins.) This is the roux. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature. When cool, drain the excess oil.
2) While roux is cooling, place chicken, onion, celery tops and bay leaf in a large stockpot. Cover chicken with water, add the salt,and bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken in tender, about 60 minutes. Remove the chicken and let it cool. Strain the stock and reserve. (You'll need 4 1/2 cups). When chicken is cool enough to handle, strip meat from the bones and shred into bite-sized pieces.
3) Wipe out the stockpot and return it to medium high heat. Warm the olive oil, and add the green pepper, diced celery and red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, 12-15 minutes. Combine the red and black pepper, the gumbo file, and the thyme together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the veggie mixture. Cook, stirring contantly, until veggies are well coated, about 8 mins. Mix in the garlic and cook another 3 mins.
4) Heat the stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk 1/4 cup of the stock into the roux until it forms a smooth paste. Add it to the stockpot along with the shredded chicken and remaining stock, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer one hour, stirring occasionally.
5) While the gumbo is simmering, cook the bacon in a heavy skillet until crisp, 5-8 mins. Add the andouille sausage and stir to coat with bacon drippings. Reserve.
6) After the gumbo has simmered one hour, add the tomato puree and bacon, bacon drippings, and sausage mixture. Take 1 cup of the hot gumbo liquid out and deglaze the bacon pan. Add these pan juices to the gumbo and continue simmering until the gumbo is slightly thickened, about 30 mins.
7) Stir in the shrimp, cooking only until the shrimp is pink, about 10 mins.
8) Serve over bowls of rice, with your favorite beer, or an Alsatian riesling or gewurztraminer.


  1. Perhaps the too-oft quoted Tony Dungy, (who apparently, from the interviews, has not heard of thrice-crowned super bowl champion Tom Brady), will no longer be the go-to coach for opinions on the greatest QB's of all time. Thank you Saints for bringing the fabulous, wonderful, marvelous, brilliant, unstoppable, (have I said extraordinary?) Peyton Manning back to where he belongs;on earth. I'll take Brady in the clutch any day, Mr. Dungy

  2. Couldn't have said it better myself. Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana also should be any conversation about best QB of all-time. But Manning may not even be the best QB of HIS time.

  3. Super Bowl predictions are like viagra online because you never know what could happen, because first one sometimes is difficult to get at least for me, and second one is everything lies.