More than 100 million people globally are expected to watch this year’s Super Bowl when the Denver Broncos face off against the Seattle Seahawks. One of the things I love about the Super Bowl is that it’s much more than a game – it’s an entire event that brings ages and genders together. This year the game takes place at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. That’s right, New Jersey, home of Frank Sinatra and Tony Soprano. It’s also known as The Garden State. Go ahead, guffaw. I know not many people outside of New Jersey really believe that New Jersey has some of the best farmland in the country (heck, some don’t believe it has anything other than highways!). But, stop by any local farmer’s market on your drive down the shore and get yourself some tomatoes, sweet corn, and blueberries. I promise, you’ll be a believer.
By now, you probably gathered that I’m a Jersey girl – and proud of it. (Ok, truth be told, I now reside in New York but you know the saying – you can take the girl out of Jersey….). So, I thought it might be fun to share a few of our classic Jersey meals and show you what my family will be enjoying on game day.
For breakfast, the clear choice is pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll. What? You’ve never heard of pork roll? Well, some do refer to it as Taylor ham but not here. In Jersey, any diner worth its salt serves pork roll. And it couldn’t be easier. Just fry the pork up on the stove…
… and top it with a scrambled egg and American cheese. The key, though, is finding the perfect Kaiser roll. In fact, my dad has been known to drive 50 miles out of his way to get the rolls he enjoyed as a child from the bakery of his youth, Sipos in Perth Amboy. Luckily, good bread is another Jersey specialty and most residents have their go-to spots much closer to home.
Now, moving on to the game meal. No one will be surprised to hear that there is a huge Italian influence on New Jersey cooking. So, a perfect option for a large crowd is sausage, peppers and onions. Have you ever been to the boardwalk in New Jersey? If so, you know that unmistakable scent of grilled sausage topped with peppers and onions. There are many ways to prepare this Jersey favorite, but here’s what I think works best:
Jackie’s Favorite Sausage, Peppers and Onions
Start with a ratio of one pound (450 g) of sweet, spicy (or a combination of both, which is what I like) Italian sausage to 2 red peppers, 1 green pepper, and 1 onion (I like sweet Vidalias). Grill sausage over a low-medium flame. While sausage is grilling, heat about 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves in a large pan. Add sliced peppers to the oil and sauté. As peppers start to soften, add another tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil and sliced onions and cook until semi-soft. When sausage is slightly brown on all sides, remove the sausage from the grill and slice length wise. Add the sausage to the onion and peppers, along with a 14-oz. can (395 g) of diced tomatoes, a dash of dried oregano, and a 1 teaspoon (15 g) each of salt and pepper. Cover and continue cooking on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Serve on a hoagie role or on its own, piled on a plate.
It’s that simple.