chipotle chicken wings served with blue cheese dip at
a USC tailgate party.
your tailgate party involves a custom rotisserie and team
color-coordinated tents, or a simple picnic on an old
blanket, no pregame ritual is complete without the spread.
This is one party thatís as much about the food as it is
about the actual game. And while itís easy to want a menu
just as intense as all that face paint you have on right
now, we have a bit of advice: Simple really is better.
we tailgate, I donít do stuff that takes a long time, like
ribs and brisket and stuff. Iím pretty pedestrian,"
says Meathead Goldwyn, a proud Florida Gator and the man
behind the popular Amazing Ribs barbecue website. "I
make sure Iím doing simple foods I can cook quickly that
are really good."
offers sage advice with a set of tailgate tips on his site.
Suggestions include planning for food that can be eaten with
your hands (no one wants to deal with utensils at any party,
especially a tailgate). And do as much prep in advance, so
youíre not working the entire time.
your stuff done and out of the way so you can enjoy the
party too," stresses Neil Strawder, of Bigmistaís
Barbecue. While the former college football player (he
played nose tackle at Southwest Texas State in the 1980s)
and lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan has catered plenty of
tailgates, he prefers to watch the big game from the comfort
of the couch. "You donít have to take out a second
mortgage to buy a beer" this way, he says, or deal with
stiff stadium seats. "What is it they call it?
you tailgate, Strawder also stresses sticking with what you
know. "Do your guests a favor: Donít experiment at
your tailgate. You donít know how something may work out
or be received."
foods are perfect ó just donít forget napkins or paper
towels. Chipotle-spiced chicken wings can be marinated the
night before, so all you have to do on game day is throw
them on the grill. The wings are sweet and spicy, the
chipotle chiles offset with the sweetness and tang of orange
juice. Cumin, garlic, onion and a touch of cayenne round it
the wings as is or alongside a creamy ranch dipping sauce
made better with crumbled blue cheese. Like the wings, you
can prepare the sauce the night before. Because nobody has
time to be in the kitchen when youíre busy packing the car
full of tailgate gear like itís a giant game of Tetris.
main dish, Strawder suggests something easy to carry, like
chili. Goldwyn suggests burgers. "If Iím going to put
out a burger, itís going to be really tasty." As with
the wings and dip, prep your ingredients ahead of time ó
make the chili the night before or assemble the burgers so
all you have to do later is throw them on the grill.
plan so you can keep clean-up at a minimum. After eating
with your friends, you want to go to the game, not clean up
an entire buffet. And keep food safety (proper temperatures,
cleanliness) in mind at all times.
just sit back in that cardinal-and-gold folding chair, your
face the same colors, your 20-year-old unwashed Trojans ball
cap on your head ó just channel your inner Raiders fan,
since we still have no pro football in this town ó and
enjoy the game.
AND BLUE CHEESE DIPPING SAUCE
minutes, plus 2 to 3 hours refrigeration time. Makes about 1
(16-ounce container) sour cream
tablespoon minced garlic
cup minced red onion
tablespoons chopped parsley
tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon chopped chives
tablespoons chopped dill
tablespoons chopped tarragon
of 1 lemon, finely grated or chopped
teaspoons red wine vinegar
teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
ground black pepper to taste
(8-ounce) wedge blue cheese, preferably Maytag, finely
large bowl, whisk together the sour cream and mayonnaise
until very smooth. Whisk in the garlic, onion, parsley,
chives, dill, tarragon, lemon zest, vinegar, salt and
chipotle pepper. Fold in the blue cheese. Season to taste
with black pepper, and adjust the salt and vinegar if
desired. Cover and chill until needed; the dip tastes best
if the flavors are allowed to develop 2 to 3 hours before
serving. The dip will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to
minutes, plus marinating time. Serves 6 to 8.
6 to 8
onion, coarsely chopped
(7-ounce) can chipotle peppers in adobo, or as desired
teaspoon cayenne pepper, more as desired
tablespoon ground cumin
teaspoons dried oregano
cups orange juice
pounds trimmed chicken wings, cut at the joint and wing tips
removed (30 to 36 pieces)
oil, for greasing the grill
the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the garlic,
onion, chipotle peppers and sauce, cayenne pepper, cumin,
oregano, salt and oil. Pulse a few times to chop the garlic
and break up the peppers. With the processor running, slowly
drizzle in the orange juice to form a marinade.
Divide the wings between two gallon-sized sealable freezer
bags and evenly pour the marinade over each. Squeeze out any
excess air, place the bags in a large baking dish or bowl
(in the event of any leaks) and refrigerate the chicken at
least 4 hours, up to overnight.
Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat until hot. Remove
the wings, shaking off any excess marinade. Lightly grease
the grill rack and grill the wings until the flesh is firm
and opaque and the outside is well-colored on each side, 6
to 8 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before cutting the
wings at the joints. Serve immediately.
hour, plus grilling time. Makes 12 burgers.
pound hickory-smoked bacon, chopped
(8-ounce) container button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 to 4
cloves garlic, chopped
cup red wine
pounds ground beef chuck
teaspoons celery salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoons sweet paprika
teaspoon chile powder
cheese, if desired
Place the bacon in a large, heavy skillet and heat over
medium heat. Cook the bacon until the fat is rendered and
the bacon crisps, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and
drain the bacon on paper towels. Drain the bacon fat (save
it for sauteeing), leaving 2 to 3 tablespoons in the
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat until hot and add the
mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until tender, 6 to 8 minutes,
stirring frequently. Season with the salt. Remove from heat
and drain the mushrooms, leaving the fat in the pan. Combine
the mushrooms and bacon in the bowl of a food processor.
Heat the skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook
the onion, stirring frequently, until it softens to a rich
golden color, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped garlic
and continue to cook just until the garlic is aromatic,
about 1 minute. Stir in the wine, scraping any flavoring
from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and add the
onions to the food processor.
Process the mixture until the bacon, mushrooms and onions
are finely ground. Remove from the processor and spread out
on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate the mixture,
uncovered, until cold.
a large bowl, combine the ground chuck with the bacon
mixture, along with the celery salt, black pepper, cumin,
paprika and chile powder, working with your hands to knead
the mixture until evenly combined. Form the mixture into 12
patties. The patties will taste best made the morning of,
but can be made up to a day in advance; separate each patty
with a piece of wax or parchment paper and cover and
refrigerate until ready to cook.
Heat a grill over medium-high heat until hot. Place the
patties on a lightly greased grill rack and cook until
charred on the outside and medium (about 135 degrees) in the
center, 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.
If adding cheese, place the cheese on the burger about a
minute before removing it from the grill to give the cheese
a chance to soften. If toasting the buns, place them
cut-side down on the rack to warm and toast slightly for a
minute or two.
Place each grilled burger on a bun and serve immediately.
Let guests garnish as desired.