Steelers at Ravens, Thursday Sept. 11, 8:25 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium, CBS
“Must-win" is one of the most nausea-inducing clichés in all of sports, so I beg your forgiveness as I use it now—in a food blog no less. With Pittsburgh a victor in its opener against division foe Cleveland, a Steelers win would leave the Ravens 0-2 both overall, in the division, and at home. Since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, just 23 of 196 teams that started 0-2 (11.7 percent) went on to make the playoffs. It's as close to a must-win situation as I'll ever declare in September.
Of course, it goes without saying that emotions are heightened any time that Pittsburgh comes to town, something I delve into heavily in the feature story "Turf War," about the epic Ravens/Steelers rivalry.
By the way, with Star-Spangled Spectacular in town and continued construction on I-95, I'd recommend leaving work a bit early—say around 10 a.m.—if you want to make it to the stadium in time for kickoff.
What to Eat: Pick up a 1 1/4-inch or thicker porterhouse or strip and fire up the grill. Really fire it up. In order to properly prepare Pittsburgh-style rare steak you'll need to practically burn the outside of the steak without cooking the inside, so that means high heat. Your yinzer-style dinner is done when its internal temperature is 100-110 degrees, and the exterior is charred around the edges.
When the Ravens travel to Pittsburgh later this season I'll give you my take on Primati Bros., which famously puts French fries on its sandwiches. This idea led me to Bobby's Burger Palace in the Maryland Live Casino at Arundel Mills. Its crunch burger features double American cheese and potato chips on the burger. The result is gooey, crunchy, and satisfying. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the patty, and the texture works after a two-bite adjustment period.
Another starch-topped delight can be found at Greek Town Grill in, you guessed it, Southeast Baltimore's Greektown. The restaurant's pork gyro is topped with tender marinated meat (which has been slow-cooked and sliced), tomatoes, onions, tzatziki sauce, and French fries.
What to Drink: Latrobe, Pennsylvania, is located about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh and has been making Rolling Rock since 1939. Each bottle has the number “33" on it, and no one knows why. My favorite among the theories is that 33 is the number of letters in Rolling Rock's ingredients (water, malt, rice, hops, corn, brewer's yeast). I choose to think of it as an ode to Eddie Murray. It had been years since I'd drank a Rolling Rock, so I ordered a bottle from Mahaffey's Pub in Canton the other day. I found it to be very refreshing in a beer-flavored-water kind of way.
If you're entertaining at home, try making a Steel Helmet, which is basically a white Russian with a shot or so of Galliano liqueur, a sweet herbal liquor created in the late 1800s by an Italian brandy producer, poured on top. I make my Caucasians with about 1/3 vodka, 1/3 Kahlua, and 1/3 milk. Mixing is essential, so I shake, never stir the drink. The Dude would most certainly abide.