Tailgate Party Food

  • By Kim
  • 5 September, 2013
  • Comments Off


Yeah! Break out the body paint and practice your 50-yard punts. Football season is back! No more of this pre-season stuff; the competition begins this Sunday, September 8th. As usual, YesTotally will be cheering on our beloved San Francisco 49ers. They may have lost the Superbowl last year, but they are on course to kick ass again across both the NFC and AFC.

But we’re not here to talk about how the Niners will crush all teams in their path. We’re here because you’ve been invited to a tailgate party and you don’t know what to bring. Ahh, the tailgate party. It’s a rite of passage for all sporting fans. It’s a unifying time when Americans agree to stand in stadium parking lots to grill hot dogs off the back of a pickup truck, usually in the very brisk Autumn air. Sometimes we get drunk.

A tailgate party can be as simple as setting up some folding chairs and eating sandwiches, or elaborate as setting up canopies, multiple tables, and serving a feast of calorie-laden foods. I’m going to assume that you’ve been invited to the later kind of party. Well, don’t worry. We’re here to help you get those football fans talking about something other than the game.

1.) Easy to eat food trumps all rules -  This is the number one food tip. Remember, you’ll likely be either standing, or sitting on a beach chair, balancing a paper plate on your lap. Bringing large marinated tri-tips  or rib eye steaks are generous, but unless you have a cutting board, and a steady surface these may be more trouble than it’s worth. Leave the shellfish at home unless you aim to make a mess.

2.) Prep the food as much as possible before you get there – It sure is tough to assemble a cheese platter on the dashboard of an SUV. Bring your dish ready to serve or cook. Marinate any meats the day before and slice vegetables at home. If you are going to be one of the folks waking up early to help snag a spot, it’s especially important to get everything ready beforehand with minimal fuss in the morning.

3.) Bring something for the grill – Check with the host, but most of the time, contributions that can be thrown onto the grill are always appreciated. Meats on a stick are always good choices. Traditional brats and burgers are perpetual crowd-pleasers. If you don’t want to bring meat, brings some vegetables kebabs, corn on the cob, or even fruits that taste awesome with a little bit of char (pineapple, peaches,  and pears). If you are bringing something to cook, keep in mind that the grill will probably be busy, so fast-cooking foods work best.

4.) BYOB – Tailgate hosts are generous souls and will often provide beverages for their fellow fans, however give back when you can and bring the good stuff. Help your host out offer to bring some alcohol for the party. This is not the time to skimp out – bring out the craft or imported beer and top-shelf spirits. After all, just because you are partying in a parking lot doesn’t mean that you have to drink terribly.

Here are a few dishes you can bring on gameday:

Bacon-wrapped Shrimp with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce: We’re starting this list off with bacon since it makes everything better. Assemble the skewers and sauce at home. When you get to the party, throw the shrimp on the grill and serve up hot.

Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings: These can be made ahead and taken to the party warm or at room temperature. I personally like to just use drumettes instead of wings, but they both work well. Be thoughtful and bring some wet wipes for your sticky friends.

Bangin’ Steak Chili: A staple on game day. This version uses a tough cut of steak that will become super tender after cooking. Make this ahead of time and reheat using a crockpot. If you don’t have access to electricity, reheat in a pot or large pan on top of the grill or use a camp stove.

Rum and Pineapple Kebabs: Thread the pineapples on skewers and mix together the rum sauce at home. While at the party, baste the pineapples with the sauce before putting on the grill. Serve the grilled pineapples over ice cream for an easy dessert.

7-layer Dip: You can never go wrong with this. It can be assembled in 10 minutes and you just need to bring some chips to accompany it. People will eat this shizz up as they wait for food to cook and they’ll continue to munch on it all throughout that long beer buzz.

0133541_mini-meatball-hero_s4x3Mini Meatball Heroes
From Giada De Laurentiis, FoodNetwork.com
Serves: 12 sandwiches

1 small onion, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 large egg
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
6 ounces ground beef
6ounces ground veal
6 ounces ground pork
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Marinara sauce or 26-ounce jar, store-purchased

12 (3 to 3 1/2-inch diameter) Italian rolls, split, warm
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 ounces sliced provolone


To make the meatballs: Whisk the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in the beef, veal, and pork. Using about 2 tablespoons of meat for each, shape the meat mixture into 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

Heat the oil in heavy large frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in 2 to 3 batches, add the meatballs and saute until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meatballs to a plate. Pour off any excess oil. Return all the meatballs to the pan. Add the marinara sauce. Simmer over medium-low until the sauce thickens slightly and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The meatball mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before continuing.)

To make the sandwiches: Spoon the hot meatballs with some sauce over the bottoms of the rolls. Place 1/2 slice provolone on top of meatballs and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Spread more sauce over the roll tops, then fold the tops of the rolls over and serve.

Note: The sandwiches can be assembled then wrapped individually in foil and rewarmed on grill. Or transfer meatballs and have people assemble sandwich at the party.
Tailgating image by renowiggum

Mini Meatball Heroes image by FoodNetwork.com

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