Jill Billante is a Senior Producer at AC360°.
Gridiron pundits say the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are pretty evenly matched for Sunday's Super Bowl. The odds-makers seem to believe the same.
The spread is a low 2.5 points to the Steelers as underdog, but when it comes to game day grub, how do the two cities stack up?
I'm a Pittsburgh gal, born and bred. I'll be cheering for the boys in black and gold, with an Iron City beer in one hand and a plate of pierogies in the other, as they go for an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl win. That doesn't stop me from indulging in the rich food heritage fueling both teams.
Since I'm a good sport, we'll begin with Wisconsin.
"Cheeseheads" (fans of the Green Bay Packers, often spotted wearing foam cheese wedge-shaped hats) come by this moniker honestly. In the late 1890s, farmers in Wisconsin shifted their focus to dairy production as many immigrants brought cheese making traditions to Wisconsin. That helped the state build a reputation as America's Dairyland. Wisconsin leads the country in cheese production and is in the top three for milk and butter.
The state was settled by many ethnic groups - French, British, Swiss, Dutch and even Scandinavian. Germans were by far the largest group and left their mark on the state's food and beer. Wisconsin was home to famous breweries like Miller Brewing, Schlitz and Pabst.
If you're rooting for the Green and Gold this Sunday, you're going to want to serve plenty of cheese and beer. Who can argue with that? The only thing better than cheese alone and beer alone is combining them in a delicious German beer and cheese spread. This German Beer Spread recipe will be making an appearance at my Super Bowl party.
Wondering what to serve with your beer and cheese? It's got to be bratwurst, that classic German sausage. If you're going to serve a brat you've got to follow the rules or risk incurring the wrath of a Cheesehead.
Fish boils and fish fries are pretty popular in Wisconsin and Pittsburgh as well and consider serving a cherry pie or cranberry-apple cobbler, Wisconsin is a prolific producer of both fruits.
Iron City Cuisine
Pittsburgh has an especially rich food history. Germans settled in the area first, followed by Scotch-Irish and Irish. Then, as the steel mills flourished, the need for cheap labor brought immigrants from Italy, Hungary, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia and Poland. Most of the dishes trace are rooted in these Eastern European countries as hearty fare to sustain the blue-collar workers who spent long days toiling in the steel mills - from which the Steelers get their name.
Since the Steelers clinched the AFC championship, you've probably heard a lot about the french fry-stuffed Primanti Brothers Sandwich. Don't get me wrong, I love Primantis and if you're in the mood, they're great sandwiches. There are just a lot of other regional dishes that are easier, delicious and shouldn't be overlooked.
My Super Bowl party will include kielbasa and kraut sandwiches. Pierogies are wonton-sized dough pockets filled with potato and cheese or onion or any combination of those fillings. In my house, they must be boiled and then fried in lots of butter and accompanied by caramelized onions.
Also appearing at the table: cabbage rolls or golabki commonly known in the 'Burgh as "pigs in a blanket." It's hard for me to think of little hot dogs wrapped in dough as pigs in a blanket; instead, I think of cabbage rolled around a filling of meat, pork rice and green pepper, baked with tomato sauce or soup. My mom is using Heinz chili sauce on hers this year. Heinz is, of course, a Pittsburgh company.
Some of my friends like to eat Halusky – fried cabbage and buttered noodles if you're Polish, cottage cheese if you're Slovak. Chipped chopped ham sandwiches are uniquely Pittsburgh too and were created at the iconic Isaly's restaurant. The thinly sliced ham is mixed with barbeque sauce and served on a bun.
If you’re in the mood for salad at your Super Bowl Party, then Pittsburgh has got just the thing for you: a steak salad. This sounds moderately straightforward, but there is a twist: it's salad greens topped with grated provolone, french fries and grilled steak or chicken.
Klondike and Clark bars and banana splits all got their start in the region, so have some waiting in the end zone.