Let’s talk about the tailgate. The back end of a pick-up is the perfect place to do a lot of things actually. Rancher and I do some of our best plotting and planning and goal setting loitering around his Dodge. It’s like an office, for rednecks. And also, as many non-rednecks acknowledge during the most wonderful time of the year (when Christmas decor is available at Costco, but it’s still far enough away to not be stressed about it yet), the perfect mobile kitchen.
You wanna know how I know that not just rednecks love tailgating? Because I’ve been to Seattle on game day where everything from a Prius to a Subaru is converted to a grilling station. Tailgating is nothing more than a state of mind, and most fun loving Americans have their head in the game right about now. In fact, some people tailgate on the couch in their own living room. Why? Because ‘Murica.
An event that takes me off the ranch every year is the beef commission sponsorship of The Seattle Game, where the Cougs play a given opponent at The Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field. It is a great way to show folks how beef can make their football tailgate party season awesome. We want you to be awesome. That’s why we gave away a bunch of new Weber Grills, coupons for $5 off Certified Angus Beef at QFC, and 150 other farmers and ranchers joined me to sling 10,000 meatballs to hungry fans prior to kick off. Ten. Thousand. Meatballs. While the conditions were soggy (it was actually straight stormy and saturated, even for the west side), and the game outcome for my Cougs mirrored that, tailgaters were getting it in, grilling and chilling like any given Saturday. Our posse of cowboy judges made it to dozens of tailgate parties to compare their flair with beef, and found the Ultimate Tailgater of the Game. Greg Jasper’s (of Kent) sirloin kabobs did not disappoint.
Here’s my opinion: your crowd will absolutely be able to soak up their brewskies with hamburgers and hotdogs– but just because you are cooking outside in a parking lot doesn’t mean you have to serve the kids menu. There are so many awesome, yet easy ways to take your tailgate from a drive ending with 3rd & long to Beast Mode. Here are three ways to make your parking lot party better:
1. Make it spicy
Heat is the jelly to beer’s peanut butter. Follow me? Busch Light can put out a fire no problem, so why not let it blaze? And what is just as easy as assembling your burger and just as tasty? Tacos!
2. Make it ahead of time
Simplify your whole parking lot set up by smoking or slow cooking your meat in advance. Just reheat on-site over the grill or other portable heat, then shred the meat. That tell tale beefy aroma will show up while you bring it up to temp, and if victory had a smell, this would be it. Added convenience: skip having to handle and store raw product, which also leaves more room in the cooler for beverages (if you’re into that kind of thing!).
3. Make it meatballs (which can also make it 1&2)
Meatballs are the obvious, yet often overlooked tailgate super food. Make them ahead, heat and serve. Doesn’t get easier than that. They are equally tasty and easy eaten off little sticks, in sandwich rolls, or even Mediterranean Style in warm pita bread. See, just looking out, helping you be awesome and original. Does it take more time and effort to be original? No, not at all. Check out Jackie’s tips for using the already seasoned, pre-cooked meatballs you can find at the grocery store.
You have a lot of football to watch, and fantasy league opponents to heckle, no need to be chained to the stove or grill all weekend to also show those chumps up with your food. More awesome, original beef tailgate recipes can be found here. Happy tailgating!