Tailgate parties are so hip, who needs the game?
Drag yourself to a Browns game. The tailgaters have been there for hours. Let’s face it, they’re often the only joy in Browns Town.
Check the lot after the kickoff. They’re still there, grillin’ and swillin’, no game tickets in sight.
At the Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes party includes concerts and semi-circus acts (no lions permitted). One wonders if the gridiron turmoil is simply an excuse to party hearty.
Of course, this being a truly American tradition, extreme rules. For $15,000, you can customize your family Dodge Caravan into a tailgating food truck with a fold-out grilling kitchen. The paint job is your team’s colors. There’s always two flags: team and Old Glory.
More proof you don’t need a game to tailgate: The art form has become a party genre. Many symphonies and operas sponsor tailgate parties as fundraisers before concerts. Music festivals feature tailgating in their advertisements. The traditional family reunion in the park never gets out of the parking lot.
Somebody’s got to take control of this mayhem, or at least make some money from it. Charities are exchanging their black-tie fundraising balls for black-tie tailgating parties.
It’s gained religion status. When the NFL tried to ban tailgating at the Super Bowl in 2008 “for security reasons,” the outcry are overwhelming.
Whatever it is, the feast must be movable. Plan to do nearly all of the prep work at home. Don’t get caught with the endless flow of dogs, burgers, ribs, potato salad and beans. The goal is to earn stares of jealous envy from neighboring tailgaters. Beef kebabs is a good start. And stuffed mushrooms.
You wouldn’t serve a steamship round of roast beef, but you might wrap thin slices in a soft tortilla with guacamole sauce and diced tomato.
Grilled fish is difficult for a crowd, but cold ceviche is perfect for foam cups.
Soup, easiest of all cuisine, is too convenient to ignore. How about a nice chowder to accompany that main course? For dessert, cheesecake cupcakes will blow away any doubts of your tailgating prowess.
Any traveling meal must be food safe. This mandates a lot of ice and efficient coolers, not those $2 foam ones. Once the grub is cooked, it should stay safe over sterno chafing dishes or in ice buckets.
All of our tailgating recipes are easily expandable. A time-saving alternative is to allow your guests to build their own main courses, such as kebabs, and then cook them. Beverages always are alcoholic but have a jug of lemonade just in case.
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄4 cup soy sauce
1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1⁄2 red wine vinegar
1⁄3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons basil for beef, mint for lamb
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound quality beef and/or lamb cubes
1⁄2 cup each mushrooms, green pepper, onion, bite-size pieces
Mix marinade in a plastic food bag and add meat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least three hours.
Assemble foot-long kebabs, four, alternating veggies and meats. Transport in food plastic bags on ice. Grill to brown meat, then cover to finish.
Notes: Sausage works well. Grill meat and vegetables on separate skewers to accommodate guests desiring rare meat. For stuffed mushrooms, chop stems and garlic, adding bread crumbs, emmentaler cheese shreds and chopped parsley. Stuff and grill on a skewer. Serves 4.