Simply put, there is nothing better than a tailgate. As football weather
I’m counting down the minutes to the first time I get to throw a little
meat on the grill, as the shoulder pads crash in the crisp autumn air.
And just to be fair, just about any fall activity is a good reason to
tailgate. The truth is tailgating is about friends and family enjoying
time together and football just seems to be the most accessible activity.
I have done a lot of tailgating at Purdue and Notre Dame, as well as
plenty of other high school games and events. The first rule of
tailgating is keep it simple. The best tailgating food is that which can
be handled with one hand, so the other can handle a beverage.
Remember, tailgating is not barbecue. Barbecue is about slow cooking for
flavor: tailgating is about good food that can be eaten with company. I
know some serious pitmasters who have trouble with tailgating because it
is a whole different vibe. The thing to remember about tailgating is
preparing a menu where most of the prep work can be done at home.
Essentially the grill at the tailgate is used for reheating, and
As the season progresses, I hope to give you plenty of tips, recipes and
Here are some quick tips for a successful tailgate:
1) Get a canopy. The 10 by 10 type is easy to set up and not only
protects you from the occasional shower, but lowers the temperature by
about 10 degrees during early season tailgates. Get one with your
favorite school or team logo on it and you are that much cooler.
2) Have plenty of wooden skewers on hand. Skewers are great ways to cook
and are easy to handle. Generally, whatever is on the kabob should be
cut small enough so that it cooks fully quickly.
Store skewers in your ice cooler, where they will saturate with water
and not burn up on the grill. Medal skewers are great, but do you really
want to bring dirty skewers home after the game?
3) Tie your trash bag to the front bumper. It keeps the bees and flies
away from the
people and food in the back. Also, use a heavy duty bag.
It will make life a lot easier when you have to pack the trash out.
4) Have both food AND beverage coolers. If you are dealing with
marinating meats, use artificial ice packs in the meat cooler instead of
ice. You are a lot less likely to have a bag of raw chicken breasts
break open and contaminate all your drinks and ice, especially if you
are opening and closing bags. But try to keep the beverages in a
separate cooler anyway.
Here is an easy recipe to try:
Take two pounds of 16-20 count peeled and de-veined shrimp. Put them in
a Ziplock bag with a bottle of Great
Value brand Caribbean jerk marinade. Marinate for about four hours in
the refrigerator or cooler. Put on
skewers with pineapple chunks and grill them for about one minute on
each side. Easy and perfect every time. Great for football — even better
for a tailgate outside a Jimmy Buffett concert.
Todd would love to see photos from your best tailgate. He will pick one
to publish with his next tailgate column, and
the others will be posted online. He only asks that the photos be of
appropriate conduct and that the date and event accompany the picture.
Send your photos via email to firstname.lastname@example.org