With the big game pitting the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints, we decided to ask chefs from both regions for tips on local fare to serve during Sunday's game.
And while New Orleans may seem to have a deeper culinary well from which to draw, it turns out Indianapolis holds its own thanks to a serious understanding of all things pork (Indiana is the fifth largest producer of pork in the U.S.), especially on sandwiches.
For example, Regina Mehallick, owner and chef at R Bistro in Indianapolis, suggests a deep-fried pork tenderloin panino with tarragon mayonnaise and fennel, a riff on the region's classic pork tenderloin sandwich.
Meanwhile, Layton Roberts, executive chef at 14 West in Indianapolis, suggests working barbecued pork into a platter of nachos for a sweet and spicy take on the classic Super Bowl party food. Roberts said he got the idea from a Las Vegas restaurant.
"I wouldn't normally have ordered that, but I saw it and the waiter was like, 'Go for the pork,'" Roberts says. "It was really good. It was nice and sweet, but they had the jalapenos and the cheese and the spice. It was a really good combination."
Representing the other team, chef Stephen Stryjewski, co-owner with Donald Link of Cochon, a New Orleans Cajun restaurant dedicated to the old style food, suggests a classic crawfish boil.
"It's still early and they are expensive, and not quite as big as they could be, but that's great for a crowd," he says.
Stryjewski says he does them crab boil - a commercial spice blend - hot sauce, lots of garlic, lemon, onion, potatoes and artichokes, and lots of salt.
Louisiana crawfish - which resemble small lobsters - come live in 30 to 40 pound sacks. Most cooks figure 3 to 4 pounds per person, especially with the extras like potatoes and artichokes. When it's in season, corn also is added to the boil.
Once cooked, the entire contents is dumped on a newspaper-covered table and everyone digs in. Stryjewski would cook them in the afternoon and eat them before the game.
Chef Lazone Randolph of Brennan's Creole restaurant in New Orlean's French Quarter, says his must-have regional grub for a Super Bowl party includes:
* Roasted baby back ribs - "Not barbecued. Roasted in the oven until the meat falls off the bones," he says. "I make them spicy, hot, dry spices, lots of garlic."
* Spicy potato salad with Creole mustard - a hot and spicy mustard in which the mustard seeds are crushed and mixed with garlic and other spices - and lots of pickles.
* For halftime, he suggests oyster po'boys - the oysters are lightly breaded and fried - dressed with lettuce and tomato on crusty French bread.