They say the sense of smell is the biggest memory trigger, but I have to argue that the sense of taste is right up there. I present you with this evidence: the 1998 Super Bowl, my parent's living room, an over-sized cheese head (yes, a hat constructed of foam cheese) and a bowl of steaming chili, heaped with a generous dusting of sharp Wisconsin cheddar.
So when I heard my green-and-gold home team, the Packers, finally made it back to the end game, I knew chili needed to be represented alongside the various dips, chips and wings. I’ve tweaked it a bit since those pre-adolescent, Farve-as-king days but the essence of the recipe remains the same. A tasty amalgamation of spices, ground beef and velvety vegetables sitting atop a bed of freshly boiled noodles. Oh, and topping it off, an ample grating of premium Wisconsin cheddar.
Sure, the heady scent of cumin and chili powder is there, but the flavor is what brings me back.
What food(s) remind you of your first Super Bowl?
Super Bowl Chili
serves 6 to 8
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 lb ground beef 1 yellow onion, diced 2 stalks celery, diced 2 large carrots; diced 1 red bell pepper, diced 1 orange bell pepper, diced 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes 1 14 ounce can tomato sauce 2 tablespoons chili powder, divided 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 bay leaf kosher salt freshly-cracked black pepper 1/2 cup fresh cilantro; minced 1 16-ounce can red kidney beans 2 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted
To serve Aged sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese, shredded 1 pound fusilli pasta
In a heavy-bottomed stock pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add in ground beef, season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir often till the meat is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Drain the beef and transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same stock pot. Add in chopped onions and cook 10 minutes until translucent. Add in celery and carrots, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook another 5 minutes. Add in peppers and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours.
Stir in cilantro, corn, beans and 1/2 tablespoon chili powder and continue to cook until the corn and beans are heated through, about 20 minutes.
Cook pasta until al dente and serve chili with a generous heap of freshly grated sharp cheddar (preferably from Wisconsin).