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 meat
loaf 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."
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
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 at
SI.com/players). Serve with fried pickles (recipe at SI.com/players) and more
barbecue sauce on the side. YIELD 8 sandwiches.
WET MOP BASTING
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.