Food for the Big Game!

By Ann Thelen

We love food and so do football fans! On Sunday, millions of people will gather around TVs to watch Super Bowl LI (51). Whether you’re cheering for the New England Patriots or the Atlanta Falcons, everyone cheers for good food! 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Super Bowl Sunday is one of the largest days of food consumption in the U.S. – second only to Thanksgiving. From buffalo wings, chili, dipping sauces, chips and pizza to homemade recipes, food is often the main attraction at a Super Bowl party.

The National Chicken Council predicts that a whopping 1.33 billion chicken wings will be consumed during the big game. While wings have seemingly become a staple of every Super Bowl party spread, there are so many other delicious choices to munch on during the game, including pork. Pork consumption is expected to tip the scales once again with big numbers similar to 2016:

  • 12.2 million pounds of Bacon 
  • 12.1 million pounds of Chops
  • 10.2 million Pounds of Ribs
  • 12.8 million Pounds of Sausage

This is good news for Iowa’s farmers who raise more hogs than any other state. Most of the pig farms in Iowa are family owned and have been in the family for generations. Farmers today provide one pound of lean pork using 41% less water and 78 percent lass land than they did in 1959. Now, that’s something to cheer about! And, for trivia buffs, that was eight years before the first Super Bowl was played on Jan. 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Calif.

Let’s not forget about pizza – the meaty, cheesy, vegetable, saucy comfort food that we all love! One in seven (or 48 million) Americans will order takeout or have food delivered to them on game day and what will the majority of them eat? Pizza! Sixty percent of takeout orders are pizza. In fact, a recent survey completed by the National Restaurant Association revealed that 61 percent of people consider pizza a "must have" Super Bowl treat. In Iowa, pizza topped with sausage is a fan favorite!

Google has even gotten into the game and released the names of the most searched for Super Bowl recipe in each state. What are Iowans searching for? Artichoke Dip. If you’re one of thousands of people searching for an artichoke dip recipe, look no further. You’ve got to try this recipe for Cheesy Chicken & Artichoke Dip. Flavorful chicken is paired with cheese, yogurt, artichokes and peppers for a creamy dip that has a kick of spice.

What pairs well with artichoke dip? Anything. From shrimp to turkey to beef, you’ll delight fellow party-goers with a table spread that mixes flavors and textures. For an abundance of flavor and a healthy portion of protein, try these sliders, which will practically melt in your mouth!

Merlot-Candied Bacon, Blue Cheese and Arugula Sliders

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 18

Recipe from: Cristen Clark, Food & Swine

For the Burger:
1 pound thin-sliced bacon, cooked
¼ cup merlot, grape or rhubarb jelly
2 pounds ground chuck
Salt and ground black pepper
8 ounces blue cheese, cut into shards
3 tablespoons softened butter
18 slider buns, split

For the toppings:
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 cups baby arugula
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into rings

Preheat the oven to 350°F and the grill to medium heat.

Cut the cooked bacon strips in half crosswise and arrange on a baking sheet. Warm the jelly until spreadable then brush on each piece of bacon to coat. Bake the bacon in the oven until the jelly is set, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Divide the ground beef into 18 portions and shape into patties slightly larger than the buns to allow for shrinkage; don’t overwork the meat. Press the center of each patty slightly so burger doesn’t puff during grilling. Season the patties on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill the patties on one side for 2 minutes, flip, then top with ½ ounce (about 1 tablespoon) of the blue cheese. Continue grilling until burgers reach an internal USDA requirements of cooking ground beef to 160 degrees. Remove and let rest 3 minutes. Meanwhile, butter and toast the buns.

For the topping, in a medium bowl, mash the garlic with the salt. Whisk in the olive oil, sugar, lemon juice and mustard, then add the arugula and onion and toss to coat.

To assemble the sliders, place a blue cheese-topped burger on toasted bun bottom. Top with 2 strips of glazed bacon and ¼ cup arugula salad; add the top half of the bun.

For more ideas, check out some of our favorite recipes.