Hell has frozen over. Pigs are flying, and when the sun rose over Bourbon Street this morning, it came up out of the west. An entire city called in sick because the party is still going on. The Saints are in the Superbowl.
I have been a Saints fan all of my life. I have been a Saints season ticket holder for years. Many years. I’ve stuck by them through thick and thin, through one-win seasons, through last minute fumbles and interceptions, through ill-advised trades, and through amazingly poor draft decisions. All the while I’ve kept the hope alive while watching a professional football franchise display every conceivable way a game can be lost. I never wore a bag, but I have hung in there for years, many years. That is, except this year.
That’s right. I am the idiot who, in June couldn’t justify the increase in season ticket prices during a recession and, didn’t renew my Saints season tickets. The NFC Championship game came to New Orleans and I watched it on television. May I say it again? IDIOT. Idiot, idiot, idiot. But that’s another story. The point is we won. We’re in.
Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, the challenge becomes: How to justify a Saints-go-to-the-Superbowl celebratory theme into a food column?
Actually, it’s not that hard. I attended two Saints games this year. Thanks to Steve, my French Market Coffee supplier. I took my son to the Giants game and my wife to the Falcons game. I also attended a game in Green Bay at Lambeau Field (Brett’s return) and one game in the Metrodome in Minneapolis (Vikings vs Giants).
I ate a bratwurst in Green Bay and a brat in Minneapolis, and the Lambeau brat won the Midwest sausage tasting hands down. Though neither can compare to the Cajun sausage served at the Superdome in New Orleans.
No other stadium in the country serves alligator sausage, gumbo, or jambalaya at their football games. When it comes to indigenous foods in NFL cities, no one can even come close to New Orleans. It’s the same with crowd noise and atmosphere.
So the question now becomes: Will I renew my season tickets next year? Yes. Will I pay even more than the increase last year? Absolutely. If I renew my season tickets, will the Saints return to the Superbowl? Who knows?
Maybe that’s it. Maybe I was the voodoo that was keeping us out of the Superbowl. Maybe the football gods have been waiting all of this time for this idiot to give up his season tickets to bring a NFC Championship to the Crescent City. To that I say: Too bad. I’m there next year with a bowl of gumbo in one hand and alligator sausage in the other.
Someone hand ol’ Beelzebub a snow shovel, the Saints are headed to Miami.
1/2 cup Canola oil
3 Tbl Flour
1 medium onion, medium dice, separated
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch discs (should be smoky and spicy)
1 medium green pepper, medium dice
1 tsp Creole Seasoning
2 Tbl butter
2 cups very intense chicken stock (this is the key to great gumbo)
1 cup chicken thigh meat, cooked, chopped
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste
1/2 cup water
2 tsp file powder
Make a dark brown roux with the oil and flour (do not burn). Set aside.
Add half the onions to the roux to cool it down, and remove from
the heat. Continue to stir for a few minutes until it’s no longer hot. Set
In another saucepan, sauté andouille, remaining onion, green
pepper, and Creole seasoning in butter until the vegetables are just barely browned. Add
the strong chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
Bring the stock to a boil and whisk in the roux. Stir well.
Lower the gumbo to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Add the diced chicken,
and salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
Blend the file into the water and add to the gumbo just before
Serve over hot rice.
Yield: 8 servings