Denver Vs. Carolina: Who's the Best Team? More Like, Who Has the Best Food?
As Peyton Manning and Cam Newton prepare to battle it out on the field, we've been busy coming up with all the best eats and party ideas to make Sunday a full-day fete. (Have you seen FoodNetwork.com's 6-foot-long color-blocked nachos?)
To turn your Big Game gathering into more than just chips and dip(s), I found the best signature dishes from the NFL's two best teams, starting with our neighbor to the East.
North Carolina takes its barbecue seriously -- and I mean, seriously. It has even been a politically-charged subject within the past decade in the House and Senate. Yup.
The state is divided between two distinct types of barbecue based on their sauces and the cuts of pork used: Lexington style and Eastern style. The two styles do share notes in their sauces (vinegar and pepper), making them distinct to the Southeast region and particularly to North Carolina.
- Uses only the pork shoulder
- Uses a red sauce seasoned with vinegar, pepper, ketchup and spices
- Uses the whole hog
- Uses a sauce seasoned with vinegar and pepper
Carolina Panthers fans, we've got the perfect recipes for you. Chef Tyler Florence has a crowd-pleasing barbecue dry rub, cider vinegar sauce and cole slaw that will take you right to BoA Stadium.
GET THE RECIPE: Pulled Pork Barbecue
Photo: Andrew Purcell via Food Network
If you're just dying to get that sweet/spicy vinegar-based barbecue sauce at home, try this simple recipe. If you're having people over for the big game, though, you'll definitely want to multiply the ingredients. Four cups just isn't enough.
GET THE RECIPE: North Carolina-Style Vinegar Barbecue Sauce
Denver has quite an eclectic food scene. When it comes to "What are signature dishes in Denver?" or "What food is Denver known for?" a few claimed the fame: Rocky Mountain oysters, wild game, green chili and the Denver omelet.
Starting with the Denver omelet, I had to know what made this guy so much better or different than other omelets? A Denver omelet (or Western omelet) is typically filled with ham, green bell peppers, onions and cheese. Sounds pretty solid, right? According to some historians, a version of this breakfast staple was crafted by cowboys on long cattle drives using bread with eggs in the middle.
No matter its origination, I'm happy to start Super Bowl Sunday with this egg-based masterpiece. Denver Broncos fans, whip up this twist on the Denver omelet by Food Network fave Bobby Flay.
GET THE RECIPE: Mini Denver Omelet Frittatas
Game meat is really popular in Denver. Elk and buffalo are the local favorites, but you'll also find reindeer, quail, pheasant, ostrich and rattlesnake on restaurant menus. Gourmet hot dog stands are just that — gourmet. Beef is at the bottom of the list here, but you can get your dog in the form of wild boar, elk, yak or duck — if you're "game."
As a nod to the Rocky Mountain region, this hearty chili recipe from Nancy Fuller features both venison and chopped green chilies.
GET THE RECIPE: Venison Chili From the Land
So, who takes home the food win? Broncos or Panthers? You'll have to let your palate decide this one.
Nacho-Stuffed Potato Skins
Pepperoni and Cheese Pizza Hand Pies
We all know that pizza's a crowd-pleasing food that can disappear in seconds. These hearty hand pies are a perfect accompaniment to other bite-size party snacks. And they're simple to make, too. Get the recipe.
For a quick crowd-pleasing food that won't bust the budget or your time, pick up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket; then pull it apart and serve it as barbecue chicken sandwiches or sliders.
Grab a lager from the pack to flavor bratwursts. Add Dijon mustard and honey, and grill them for a perfect portable treat. Sub a hot dog bun for a freshly-grilled baguette. Get the recipe.
Deviled Eggs, Three Ways
Deviled eggs are a classic party appetizer, but we've taken inspiration from favorite flavor combinations to put a new spin on the expected. BLT? Yup. Pesto? You know it. Get the recipes (three!).
Roasted Pepper and Mozzarella Bites
If you just found out you're hosting the Super Bowl at your house, fear not. Three major ingredients create one delicious and good-looking appetizer in a jiff. Get the recipe.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
I don't trust anyone that doesn't like cheese. This bubbling dish calls for a combination of three tasty cheeses — white Cheddar, Gruyère and Swiss — making this mac 'n' cheese a creamy comfort food that's destined to become the center of attention at your next game. Get the recipe.
Coca-Cola Cupcake With Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
Satisfy their sweet tooth during the halftime show with chocolate cupcakes flavored with Coca-Cola and salted peanut butter frosting. Get the recipe.