FoodStacy M. Brown

Turning Up Your Tailgating Game for Football Season

It’s the time of year when there’s no longer a need to ask that age-old and once-provocative question: “Are you ready for some football?”

Why, of course, everyone is ready for the pigskin season, particularly as homecoming rolls around.

For many fans, the more pressing question might be how to turn up your homecoming tailgate game?

The answer, if not expansive, could be simple, according to those who make a living by working the grill.

“You have got to have a game plan, be prepared,” said Jonathan Dolphin, the chef behind the YouTube sensation Soul Hole Kitchen.

A big part of the game plan begins with the meat selection, Dolphin said.

“Nice fat sausages or chicken thighs will do,” he said. “If you have a propane fryer, then get some fish and season it with salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and mix in some Creole seasoning.”

Then, Dolphin said, “put on some nice music.”

Chris Sarajian, CEO of Roundhouse Restaurants, shared a recipe for grilled chicken and wings — dishes he said are sure to liven any tailgate party.

“We marinade all of the chicken at least 24 hours before cooking it. The chicken breasts and wings can stay in marinade up to 48 hours under proper refrigeration,” Sarajian said.

Here’s the recipe:

4 cups olive oil
1 cup peeled chopped fresh garlic
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 cup fresh hooped cilantro
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Marinate the chicken for 24 to 48-hours before grilling the chicken or roasting the wings.

“We like marinade all of our chicken wings and for grilling in this marinade,” Sarajian said. “We feel it makes it moister and it gives it a nice bursting flavor no matter what sauce you add to the [meat].”

Naturally, if you’re not in the mood to cook, Sarajian said tailgate hosts could simply order a bunch of precooked wings.

Frank Ferrara, a chef at the Original Pocono Pub and Grill in Pennsylvania, said the key to a lively homecoming tailgate party is not forgetting the basics.

“The key to a great tailgate party needs to have three main guidelines — theme, preparation, time usage,” Ferrara said. “They go hand in hand.”

The theme will make the tailgate fun and a draw for friends, family members, and guests to talk about, he said.

“For example, if your home team is playing the Miami Dolphins or the Green Bay Packers, this would make me go with a theme of a fish or cheese,” Ferrara said, noting the obvious connection between a dolphin and fish, and Green Bay residents’ affinity for cheese.

Of course, Redskins fans can reach hog heaven with a delicious smoked pork shoulder.

For the preparation, Ferrara said a menu is necessary before one purchases supplies. He recommends seasoning any food in advance and even precooking items to save some time.

“Being prepared to have your guest eating and you not cooking and cleaning up after the tailgate party is important,” he said. “You don’t want to miss the first quarter of the game so set up a schedule of things to prepare the day before, like smoking any meats or marinating any foods. This will free time up, and you can feed the guests earlier.”

Ferraro dropped a couple of recipes that he noted should add to the homecoming tailgate experience.

Lemon drop rub (fish, chicken):
Lemon pepper, sea salt, sugar, granulated garlic, and onion,
parsley mixed
Baste protein in an olive oil and lemon juice mix when ready to grill add dry rub and cook on medium heat. after cooking
sprinkle more dry rub for added flavor
Lager cheese sauce (sausage, brats, hotdogs)
Aged cheddar, American and Monterey jack cheese
Onion diced
Bottle favorite lager
Heavy cream
In a saucepan, add oil. Caramelize onion lightly proceed to add cream to a lukewarm temperature. Then slowly add shredded cheeses at a low heat, mixing until dissolved. Add beer and heat again. This item should be prepared day prior and reheated day of the game.

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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