HAVING MISSED the Super Bowl by a game, Saints Pro Bowl defensive end Will Smith was suddenly a spectator, and he enlisted chef Emeril Lagasse to help him put together a spread worthy of Super Sunday. Smith, 25, started cooking as a child in Queens,N.Y. "I lived with my grandmother, but she had emphysema, so most nights my sister [Chantay] or I cooked," says Smith, whose specialties included meatloaf and lasagna. The 6'3" 282-pounder also likes to eat and is a regular at Emeril's New Orleans restaurant. "He's the man," says Smith. "If you have family in town, this is where they want to go."
Lagasse's 17-year-old flagship has been a team hangout since he started Saints Sundays this season, opening early for players and fans coming from the game—which he's usually just attended himself. (Lagasse has 21 season tickets and a suite.) For away games Lagasse hosts parties at home. "You can do your chips and dips,but you need substance. It's the most important thing, especially when alcohol's involved," he says. As SI watched, Lagasse taught Smith how to concoct a pulled-pork sandwich and other delights. You have to start the night before, but as any Super Bowl contender knows, preparation means everything.
BARBECUED PULLED-PORK SANDWICHES
1 boneless pork butt, about 4 lbs.; 3 tbsp. dark brown sugar; 2 tbsp. Emeril's Original Essence; 1 tbsp. salt; 1 tbsp. cumin; 1 tbsp. paprika; 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1 tbsp. cayenne; 8 hamburger buns.
• PUT PORK in a baking dish. In a bowl combine the sugar, Essence, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Rub the seasoning evenly over the pork to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate four hours or overnight.
• PREHEAT OVEN to 225°. Bring pork to room temperature and place in a roasting pan, fat side up.Slow cook in the oven, basting with Wet Mop Basting Sauce (recipe below) every 45 minutes until tender and the internal temperature reaches 160°. (Cooking takes six to seven hours.) Remove from oven and let rest 20 to 30 minutes.
• WITH TWO FORKS,pull meat into shreds. Toss with homemade barbecue sauce (recipe below) and divide among burger buns. Top with Kicked Up Coleslaw (recipe atSI.com/players). Serve with fried pickles (recipe at SI.com/players) and more barbecue sauce on the side. YIELD 8 sandwiches.
WET MOP BASTING SAUCE
1 cup white vinegar; 1 cup apple-cider vinegar; 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar; 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes; 1 tbsp. cracked black pepper; 1 tbsp. salt.
• THE NIGHT before cooking the pork, combine ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well.Refrigerate overnight. YIELD 2 1/4 cups.
1 cup apple-cider vinegar; 1 cup ketchup; 3 tbsp. dark brown sugar; 1 tbsp. yellow mustard; 1tbsp. molasses; 1 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper.
• IN BOWL combine ingredients and whisk well to dissolve sugar. YIELD About 2 cups.
HOT CORN DIP
2 tbsp. unsalted butter; 3 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears fresh white or yellow corn); 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions; 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers; 1/4 cup chopped green onions(green and white parts); 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced; 2 tsp. minced garlic; 1 cup mayonnaise; 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded; 1/4 tsp. cayenne.
• MELT HALF the butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, salt and pepper. Cook about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until kernels turn deep golden brown. Pour into a mixing bowl.
• MELT REMAINING butter in skillet. Add onions and peppers and cook about two minutes stirring often, until onions are wilted. Add green onions, jalapeno and garlic; stir another two minutes, or until vegetables are softened. Pour mixture into bowl with corn and let cool.
• PREHEAT OVEN to 350°. Add mayonnaise, half the grated cheese and the cayenne to the corn mixture and mix well. Pour into an eight-inch-square baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.Serve hot with homemade tortilla chips (recipe at SI.com/players). YIELD 6 cups dip; 12 to 18 servings.
For the other recipes to help you complete a Super Bowl repast, as well as one for Emeril's crab dip, go to SI.com/players.