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Melissa Cookston's Super Side Dishes for Super Bowl LIV


Super Bowl LIV will determine the National Football League’s World Champion on Feb. 2. Go the distance with these delicious game day appetizers and sides from celebrity chef and World Champion Melissa Cookston.

Taken from Cookston’s cookbook, Smokin' in the Boys’ Room and Smokin’ Hot in the South, these award-winning recipes for smoked pork meatballs, zesty pimento and cheese, southern deviled eggs with chive-truffle vinaigrette, and bacon-wrapped asparagus with pink peppercorn vinaigrette will help you be the ultimate winner on Super Bowl game day.

Smoked Pork Meatballs

“These delicious Smoked Pork Meatballs make a great appetizer or snack. I recently cooked these up on my Pit Boss K22 Ceramic Grill. I like them just a bit spicy, so I used a bit of hot sauce in the recipe and a spicy BBQ sauce to glaze them. However, feel free to adjust them as you like. In this recipe, I also call for BBQ seasoning and BBQ sauce. Feel free to use your favorite types. You can also use my recipe for Sweet Memphis BBQ Rub.” - Melissa

2 pounds ground pork

2 tablespoons hot sauce, adjust for taste

1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

1/3 cup finely diced yellow onion

1/4 cup finely diced poblano pepper

2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup BBQ sauce

In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except BBQ sauce. Mix thoroughly, then roll into 1.5-2 ounce balls (depending on your preference.) Spray a round cookie sheet with non-stick spray, then place balls on sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Start smoker and heat to 250 degrees. Add cookie sheet to grill and cook for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check internal temperature of meatballs to ensure they have reached 165 degrees.

Remove meatballs from cookie sheet and place in a pan with at least a 1-inch lip. Add sauce, and gently roll meatballs to coat. Return to smoker for 10 minutes to allow BBQ sauce to "set."

Zesty Pimento and Cheese

“Everyone in the South has a favorite pimento and cheese recipe, or several. This recipe for a zesty pimento and cheese is one of my favorites. It’s a very simple recipe, and so much better than store bought.

Pimento and cheese, also known as just 'pimento cheese' around these parts, is a staple in the south. It gets served at almost every social function or afternoon tea. Usually, I see it made into tea sandwiches or served with in a bowl with plenty of crackers. Personally, it is my favorite thing to eat at a BBQ contest. When I have my face in a BBQ pit for hours, the last thing in the world I want is hot food. A simple, cool pimento and cheese sandwich really hits the spot.

Make it zesty. If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not a fan of bland. Even a dish such as pimento and cheese can be jazzed up slightly. Instead of the normal little jar of diced pimento peppers, I like to either roast my own peppers or purchase some roasted piquillo peppers, which have a bit more of a freshness and flavor to them than pimentos.

I also love to add my homemade candied jalapeños. You can find my recipe for those in my book, Smokin’ Hot in the South. They are one of my favorite things and are quite addictive. Candied Jalapeños will add a little bit of spice, some sweetness, and crunch. For a bit of spice, I drop in a couple of tablespoons of Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, or you can use your favorite hot sauce.”

Make it creamy. The one trick to making your pimento and cheese creamy is using an electric mixer. Leave your cream cheese sitting out for about an hour before making this recipe. Then, add it with your mayo and let that mixer run. I like to let it whip for about 3-4 minutes on a medium high speed. After that, you’ll add in the rest of your ingredients and mix for another 2-3 minutes on a medium high speed. The other option you have for creaminess is the cream cheese/mayo ratio. I like it creamy but with enough body that it’s nicely spreadable but can also be used to top a burger and melt some. For that, I usually use one 8-ounce block of cream cheese to a half cup of mayo. If you want to go creamier than that, simply up the mayo another couple of tablespoons.

And voila, you have pimento and cheese!" - Melissa

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup mayo

2-1/2 tablespoons roasted piquillo peppers, diced

2 tablespoons candied jalapeños, optional

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1-1/2 tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Sauce or your favorite hot sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups shredded cheddar

Place the room temperature cream cheese and mayo in a mixing bowl and mix on medium high for 3-4 minutes. Add in peppers, jalapeños, garlic, salt and pepper, and mix for 1 minute. Add in shredded cheddar and mix for 2-3 minutes. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before using.

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus with Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette

“I love the light pop you get from pink peppercorns and use them quite often when cooking at home. This dish takes a bit of preparation time to wrap the bacon around the asparagus but is worth it. Serve as appetizers or as a side, allowing four per person.” - Melissa

Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon minced shallot

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 -1/2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly cracked with a mortar

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the shallots, honey, mustard, balsamic, and salt, and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Whisk in the peppercorns. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to combine, then lightly whisk again before serving.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus:

16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

8 slices thin-cut bacon, cut in half

1 teaspoon Basic BBQ Rub

Wash and dry each spear, then wrap each one with a half-slice of bacon, using a toothpick on each end to secure. Place on a sheet pan when done, then lightly sprinkle them with the BBQ rub. On a medium-hot grill, place asparagus perpendicular to the grill grates and grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the bacon is crispy. Place on plates and drizzle with the Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette.

Southern Deviled Eggs with Chive-Truffled Vinaigrette

“Deviled eggs are among the most Southern of items, and you absolutely must have a recipe available to you. Take heart, they’re exceedingly simple. However, sometimes you need to freshen up a classic recipe, and the addition of a simple, chive-truffle vinaigrette takes them to a whole new level.” - Melissa

For the eggs:

6 hard boiled eggs

2 tablespoons mayo

2-1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cut eggs in half and separate yolks. With a fork, break up yolks; then add mayo, relish, and salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings, or mayo if stuffing looks too dry. If you're being fancy, place egg yolk stuffing in a piping bag and pipe into eggs. Otherwise, you can just spoon the stuffing back into the eggs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

For the vinaigrette:

2 tablespoon champagne vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoon white truffle oil

If you like whisking a lot, you can make this in a small bowl with a whisk. I prefer using a blender, an immersion blender, or a food processor (depending on how much I am making.)

In a separate container, pour olive oil and truffle oil together. Add all ingredients except oils to bowl and whisk or blend thoroughly. While blending, slowly drizzle oil blend into dressing to form an emulsion.

Either using a squeeze bottle, or a spoon, drizzle vinaigrette dressing over eggs and serve.


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