For football fans, it’s the roar of the stadium, the sizzle and smell of meat on the grill, the praise you give or receive when you bite into something delicious, and the camaraderie that makes tailgating as fun as football. To kick off the season, these recipes will help you bring your culinary A game to the tailgating party.
Bacon Cheddar Cheeseball
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup fried bacon, chopped (10-12 slices)
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2/3 cup French’s Crispy Fried Onions (optional)
Ritz crackers for serving
This is an excellent tailgating recipe because it’s made in advance, so it’s easy to break out when you start setting up. Besides, everyone loves bacon.
Leave cream cheese on the counter for an hour to soften. Fry the bacon, until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Discard any fatty pieces and only keep the crisp pieces. Chop the bacon and finely mince the red onion. Stir bacon, paprika, onion and cheese together with cream cheese. Form the mixture into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour. Just before serving, press the French’s Fried Onions all over the ball. Serve with crackers.
Note: You could make this with store-bought real bacon pieces, but do not use bacon bits.
Honey Teriyaki Drumettes
3.5 pounds chicken drumettes
1 cup honey
4 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup teriyaki sauce
5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch
2 green onions, chopped
This recipe works well for tailgating because the main cooking is done in advance in a slow cooker, and then the sauce is thickened. You can either thicken the sauce at home and just rewarm the drumettes on the grill, or thicken the sauce on the grill at the game. You will need a cast-iron pan for this recipe.
Place chicken in a slow cooker and cover with honey, butter, teriyaki sauce and garlic. Place on the 4-hour setting. After 4 hours, pour all the liquid from the chicken into a cast-iron pan and heat until it begins to bubble. Remove 1 cup of hot liquid and whisk it together with cornstarch. Whisk the cornstarch mixture into the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat, until the sauce thickens (stir frequently). Then add chicken into the pan, reduce heat to medium and cook another 25-30 minutes, until chicken gets darker and the sauce sticks to the meat.
Garnish with chopped onions before serving.
1 pound mini sweet bell peppers
1 (8-ounce) package onion & chive cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 ounce smoked trout (optional)
2 pounds bacon
You will want to assemble these at home and then toss them on the grill at the game. This dish was inspired by stuffed jalapenos, which are not very family-friendly because of the spice. This mild version is good for kids and anyone who doesn’t tolerate spicy food. You can make this with or without smoked trout; it’s delicious either way.
Place 7 slices of bacon on a plate with two paper towels on the bottom and two on top. Microwave for 2 ½ minutes. Do this until all the bacon is partially cooked, changing the paper towels each time. Set aside to cool.
Slice each bell pepper in half and remove the seeds. Stir together the cream cheese and cheddar cheese, and smoked trout, if using. Then stuff the mixture into each bell pepper until the pepper is full, but not overflowing.
Wrap anywhere from half a slice to a whole slice of bacon on each pepper, depending on the size of the pepper. Secure it with a toothpick so the bacon does not unravel.
Cover and take them to the game.
Heat grill to 375 degrees. Place peppers on the grill and cook for 1 minute with the grill closed. Then open the lid and continue to cook, turning as needed, until the bacon is cooked. You need to keep your eye on these or they will flare up and burn, which is why you should keep the grill open the remainder of the time. These take about 5 minutes to cook.
Cast-Iron Caramel Apple Brie
1 (8-ounce) wheel of brie
2 tablespoons old-fashioned caramel apple dip
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup pretzel pieces
French bread or crackers for serving
Heat the grill to 325 – 350 degrees. You will not need to heat the grill for long for this recipe. Do not make the brie on an extremely hot grill or it will melt quickly.
Stir together the caramel dip and butter. Place a wheel of brie in a cast iron skillet. Top it with the caramel sauce mixture.
Chop Granny Smith apples and set aside.
Sprinkle pecans over the brie. Place brie on the grill for about 5 minutes, just to melt it slightly. Remove and top with chopped apples and pretzels. Serve immediately with French bread or crackers.
Grilled S’more Pizza
1 plain naan crust or another flatbread
2/3 cup Nutella
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
Let the kiddos take over assembling this dish. This dessert is easy and delicious, so you may want to make several. It’s a hit with adults and children. Naan is readily available at Walmart stores; it’s a soft Indian flatbread. If you cannot find it, substitute pizza crust or another plain flatbread.
Heat the grill to 350 degrees.
Gently spread Nutella over the naan.
Place the marshmallows on the pizza and then top with chocolate chips. Place pizza on the grill 3-5 minutes, until the marshmallows begin to puff up and chocolate melts. Remove and sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs. Slice and serve.
Juliana Goodwin is a food columnist, cookbook author and avid traveler.
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