Nothing gets a Southerner more riled up than football. Where I grew up (War Eagle!), Saturday is sacred and tailgating is nothing less than an art form. And while the big game is definitely the priority, the food usually comes in a very close second.
In case you're not familiar with SEC football etiquette, let me teach you a little something. In my town, campers and RV’s start showing up first thing Thursday morning &mdash as early as they're allowed. I'm not talking mere trailers, either; I'm talking more along the line of rock star tour buses. Yep, it's that serious.
And where there's a bus, there's a smoker. Once the charcoal gets fired up and the keg gets tapped, it's time to party (and eat!). While the ribs and pork shoulder are getting cooked low and slow, there's always some appetizers ready to feed the masses. Think turkey wraps, muffulettas, ham and poppy seed sliders, and potato salads galore. It's usually a dip free-for-all ranging from beer cheese to chicken chimichanga, seven layer to ranch.
Strangers and friends alike meander through the parking lots, sharing stories of seasons past while sampling the goods. Usually you'll be offered a Bloody Mary or a beer and invited to stay for a while. Because where there's food, you're family. But sadly, all good things must come to an end. Come next Monday, all we'll have left to do is reminisce of that last pick six and countdown the days until next September.
This fresh Spinach and Artichoke Dip is guaranteed to please come Super Bowl Sunday. Even if football is not your thing, this classic appetizer will be.
Yields 2 cups
2 (10 ounce) bags fresh spinach
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 grated white cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
In a large stockpot of boiling water, add spinach and cook until bright green, approximately one minute. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop and set aside.
In a straight-sided saute pan or sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté onions until soft and tender, then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add flour and cook for another minute, until no flour is visible. Pour in cream, milk, wine and, stirring constantly, cook until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, mix together spinach, artichokes, and sour cream. Pour warm cream mixture over spinach, add white cheddar, and combine thoroughly. Season again, to taste.
Serve warm with tortilla chips, pitas, or crudité and sides of salsa and sour cream. To reheat, warm in a saucepan over medium low heat.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)