tailgate-food

It’s that time of year again, fall is here and with it comes the favorite American past time of tail-gating. What this usually means is busting out the traditional foodstuffs that have come to be expected at events such as these. Hotdogs, chips, hamburgers and vague attempts at pasta salads will once again make their way into parking lots and open fields across America. This year, why not change a few things up? Does your tailgating fare need a makeover? Or perhaps you are just interested in trying out something different this season. Whatever the case may be, follow some of these helpful tips and tricks to make this season a little more memorable than the last.

Many recipes and ideas seem to be avoided and never make it out for game day due to a misconception of the amount of time it may (or many not) take to prepare. A great starter for any tailgate and one that rarely gets to make an appearance in your meal’s starting line is chicken wings. Yes, they can be a little messy. Yes, the logistics of transporting them and keeping them warm might be a hindrance, but if you follow all the right steps these tasty little critters can be an excellent addition to any tailgating event.

To begin you’ll need to go pick up some uncooked chicken wings from your local grocer. Go ahead and fire up the grill and toss those wings on it when it reaches a good slow cook temperature. From here you will need to decide what sort of flavor you think you and your fellow tailgaters are going to be most inclined to enjoy. Either way, if you’re going to go spicy or savory don’t forget to add a crucial ingredient to that wing sauce as you’re heating it up. BUTTER. That’s right, butter is a great addition to any wing sauce as it does excellent things to not only the flavor of the sauce, but its ability to cling and adhere to those cooked wings perfectly. Also, if you go spicy, consider cutting your sauce with a little honey or other syrupy sweetener to lighten the blow of the burn. After your sauce is made, begin to baste them until you have achieved your desired coat of sauce. Place them in a transportable warming container and these bad boys are good to go.

If you happen to be a fellow foodie such as myself you might have begun to notice the trending use of flat breads and fire-grilled pizzas to restaurants in your local area. These guys offer infinite customization and can be made with relative ease to cater to the needs of any palate. With such a wide variety of choices and options when making a flat bread  why not consider bringing a few to your next tailgating bash?

To begin, you will need to start with the dough. If you’re ambitious, you can create your own and go from there but for those of use with a limited amount of time on our hands, local grocers and super markets generally carry a few varieties of pre-made dough’s ready to be tossed on the grill. A great tip before baking that crust is to toss a little of your favorite flavored oil and pepper on top. This is really going to enhance the flavor of your flatbreads when it comes time for them to be eaten.  After they’ve been on the grill for a little bit, take them off and you can go to town. Think outside the box when you start to load them up with toppings. Barbecue sauce makes a great base instead of the traditional tomato variety as does a tasty hummus.

Tons of different veggies and meat options can be used to make these great game day treats even more delicious. Think grilled eggplant and an exotic cheese and some basil leaves, maybe go chorizo and some shitake mushrooms. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. Once, they have been appropriately topped, it’s time to put them back on the flame for a little more fire-grilled TLC. Once the cheeses and the toppings have had adequate time to heat up, grab a pair of tongs, place them in some tin-foil or other storage device and you’re good to go.

Any veteran tailgater knows that a good beer is a staple to any game day celebration. However, this doesn’t have to mean that 24 pack of Natural Ice that is on sale at the gas station you stumbled across on your way to the game. For your next big tailgating party consider sprucing that brewski up a bit and impressing all the other tailgaters with your creativity and mixology.

For a great beer cocktail, and twist on a the classic Bloody Mary grab a quart of tomato mix (V8 works great), a lime’s worth of juice and some good pale ale. Throw all these things into a blender and let it all come together for a few moments. Wah-lah! What only took you a few minutes in prep time gives you a tasty alternative to that boring can of beer.

Another great beer inspired beverage with a citrus twist is a Shandy. Simple to make and great in taste, all you will need to make a pitcher of these tasty drinks is your favorite light beer or lager and some lemonade. Depending on your tastes, you can adjust either ingredient’s amounts to come out with a nice beer cocktail with a hint of citrus or an equal parts beer to lemonade beverage that has the potential to be a little more accessible.

Hopefully some of these ideas have begun to spark your interest and changed your perception on what a traditional tailgate meal looks like. Remember, don’t just stop with what I have suggested here, let your creativity go to work. If you want to stick with the tried and true hamburger, think about adding some great spices and veggies into that ground chuck mix before you plop them on the grill. Still want to serve hot dogs? Trim up that boring relish and whip up a tasty mixture of cabbage, vinegar and a touch of sugar to really give your hotdogs that same competitive edge that your favored team will need to drive home that victory.  

A recovering writer, father, and foodie, Richard Bracke loves to try new out new restaurants in Charlotte, and especially enjoys Spanish tapas. He currently blogs for the website, EZ Cater, a site that specializes in finding you the perfect corporate catering service.

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