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Super Sides for Super Bowl LV From Chef Melissa Cookston

Celebrity chef and World Champion Melissa Cookston can help you become the ultimate winner for the big game with appetizers and sides that are as exciting as a Hail Mary pass!

Taken from Cookston’s website and cookbook, “Smoking in the Boys’ Room,” and “Smokin’ Hot in the South,” the below award-winning recipes for spicy crawfish dip, smokin’ hot wings, smoked pork meatballs, and southern deviled eggs with chive-truffle vinaigrette will help your audience go the distance on Super Bowl game day so that everyone will feel like a winner!

Spicy Crawfish Dip

Need a rich, creamy dip for a get-together, but you’re tired of the same-old-same-old? Then here’s an easy recipe for a Spicy Crawfish Dip that will be the life of the party. It’s really quite simple, but super flavorful. The amount of heat is up to you, but the creaminess helps cut some of the heat.

Crawfish? Yes, crawfish. If you are not familiar with crawfish, you have been missing out. In the South, crawfish boils are a way of life, and crowds gather for the spicy crustaceans cooked with corn, potatoes, and sausage. So, so good. It’s one of those things that is spicy, but you can’t stop eating or the spice will really kick in. Let me tell you, it takes a good bit of work to peel the tails, but it’s worth it. Fortunately, we can buy already peeled crawfish tail meat. Look in the frozen seafood section at your local grocery store for this item. It’s sold in one-pound packages and is amazing prepared any number of ways: fried, in pasta, sautéed with veggies or any number of creole dishes.

Make the Spicy Crawfish Dip. This is really too easy to write a recipe on, but it’s so tasty I just wanted to share. The spicy crawfish dip is a blend of crawfish meat, creole seasoning, crab boil, Worcestershire, cream cheese and sour cream. Throw in some green onions and garlic, and you’ll be the winner at the next party! As always, I hope you enjoy!


Smoked Catfish Dip

Why is Catfish So Mississippi? For years, people in the South have loved fishing for catfish and cooking them up. Catfish are generally fried. Small catfish can be fried whole, larger ones are cut into filets. Unless you’re out there with a fishing pole, catfish are generally farmed now, and Mississippi leads the nation in the production of farm-raised catfish. With all the issues in seafood and concerns about sustainability, farm-raised catfish is a perfect solution. The fish, when properly raised, doesn’t have the “muddy” flavor that gave it a poor reputation in the past

More About Catfish. No, I’m not sponsored by a catfish marketing group, but I love my Mississippi farmers. If you aren’t a fan of catfish, you should try it. The white filets have a clean, mild taste that accepts flavors readily. Catfish are raised in clean, aerated ponds, and therefore are not hard on the environment as well as having low levels of contaminants. Catfish is good in any number of preparations. Obviously fried is delicious, but blackened, grilled, smoked or sautéed can be great as well.”

Always look for “U.S. Farm-Raised Catfish,” as low-quality producers in China and Vietnam are farming catfish with little-to-no oversight. Trust American catfish and you will help out the oceans from overfishing, as well as some hard-working farmers

Now, Tell Me About the Recipe. I like smoked fish. Salmon, trout, catfish or mackerel are all among my favorites to smoke. When I talk about smoking fish, I’m not trying to “smoke cure” the fish for preservation. I hot smoke the fish to add a layer of flavor and a different texture to the fish. I smoke extra catfish filets for this recipe and have that for a meal. The filets need to cool down for the dip, so I usually do them the day before I need them.

After making the dip, you can serve it in a bowl, or you can pipe it on crostini as I did for the James Beard House dinner. I topped each piece with a bit of my red pepper relish, and it was really good. I think you’ll love this recipe for your next gathering.


- 2 pounds boneless catfish filets

- 2 tablespoons BBQ seasoning

- 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp

- 1 cup sour cream

- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

- 1 tablespoon minced garlic

- 1 teaspoon kosher salt

- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

- 2 tablespoons diced red bell pepper

- 2 tablespoons diced green onion

- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning

- 1 tablespoon lemon juice

- 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika

- 1/2 tablespoon Ancho chili powder

Prepare a smoker to run at 250 degrees F with apple or cherry wood.

Season catfish with BBQ seasoning, oil grates and place catfish in smoker. Cook until it reaches 145 degrees F, then remove and cool.

In the bowl of a mixer, add cream cheese, sour cream, and all other ingredients except for catfish. Turn mixer on medium and mix four minutes, scraping sides occasionally.

Add catfish and mix for 2 minutes or until catfish is well incorporated. Remove from mixer, refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.


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.


- 2 pounds ground pork

- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (adjust for taste)

- 1 tablespoon BBQ seasoning

- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire

- 2 tablespoons ketchup

- 1/3 cup yellow onion, finely diced

- 1/4 cup poblano pepper, finely diced

- 2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

- 1 egg, lightly beaten

- 1 cup BBQ sauce

In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients except BBQ Sauce. Mix thoroughly, then roll into 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 F. 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 F.

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." Enjoy!


Southern Deviled Eggs with Chive Truffle 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.

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

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

To make the eggs:

Cut eggs in half and separate yolks. With a fork, break up yolks, then add relish, mayo 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.

To make the vinaigrette:

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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