A junkie’s paradise of football, friends, and food. by Rick McMillen
Let me be perfectly honest right up front—I love football, it matters not if it is high school, college or pro. I love the fall cool air that begins to return replacing the blistering summer heat. I love cheerleaders. (Yes, Dear, I’m sure that is no surprise to you. I know you figured out long ago that our seats near the field weren’t just to see the players better.) And, let’s get this straight, I am a Texans fan, through and through. Sure, I get upset with them, but when I last checked it’s healthier to allow your emotions to vent, helping to rid your body from the fat infused into so many great, tailgating foods. This leads me right into my favorite thing that football brings—TAILGATING! This wonderful, weekly fan fest lets you tip a beer back with a stranger parked in the next slot and he soon becomes one of your best buddies by the time you pull your last sip on the bottle, all because you have one common denominator—the love of the home team. Now the beer, the football and the new friends are great, but the serious part of tailgating is the FOOD (the all capped words should be yelled out very loud, to the point of scaring the dog).
Is there any better way to start off a perfect weekend of pure football than to devour a scrumptious, baby back rib, generously coated with a beer infused sauce, a serious helping of chili powder, jalapeño and garlic, that has been slowly smoking for three plus hours while surrounded with your best friends all dressed to kill wearing team colors and helmets. Sometimes it’s hard to eat that way, but let me tell you, it does taste better. It’s important to yell your passions very, very loud. I can’t always do so at home, the neighbors already think I’m strange. While all of this is happening, you must maintain your position near the keg of beer making it simple to easily refill so you can be ready for the feast of chicken poppers, chili baked beans and the red pepper corn bread just waiting to be charged with queso (that’s how I like mine). The beauty here is that I typically do not eat Thursday or Friday with only a lite, lite meal during the college games on Saturday so I can be ready to be the One and Only True Tailgating Food Junkie of All Time!
If you don’t like this go to the museum, we have a ton of them, sip your chardonnay and leave me with my friends, football and food. But, ya gotta love it; this is the most American icon event ever!
On the following pages you will find many recipes designed to help make your tailgating experience the very best. Granted, we all have our favorites. However, the primary bases are well covered, the barbecue meats, incredible beans, fantastic sandwiches, creamy pastas along with the hard core stand by of potato salads, chips and dips. And, let’s make the wife happy, I have included a recipe for a fruity Sangria wine that will keep her and her friends near that pitcher allowing me and my friends to properly dissect the game and make the critical coaching decisions long before kick-off.
Okay, everyone ready? I’m now off to get a new Texan’s jersey—JJ Watt’s. After all, he is destined to be the rookie of the year in the NFL and I look like him—a big, solid, mass of muscles (want to buy a bridge?). Plus, I’ve also got to find my football. I think my wife hid it. She thinks my friends and I will hurt ourselves running fly patterns in the parking lot. Can you think of a more honorable time to get an injury requiring stitches? That’s a war wound to wear with pride the entire next week, silly girl!
So, GO TEXANS! Let’s grill up a few QB’s from the opposing teams on our pits at the end of the game (football always brings out my inner barbarian)!
Rick, the Terrible Texan, number 69 in your tailgating program, but number one in your heart and stomach!
Quarterback – Queso & Chips
Name one wild and crazy Texan fanatic who does not frequently crave QUESO? The appetizer gods knew milleniums back that when football was discovered, chips and queso would be the hit of the party. If you fail to serve this one, your loyal buds will be checking out other tailgaters.
YIELD Serves 10-12
PREP TIME 20 minutes
COOKING TIME 30 minutes
1 Pound Velveeta cheese
1 Pound cream cheese
1 Jar of your favorite picante sauce, 16 ounces
1 Pound seasoned meat – sausage preferred
1 Cup fresh cilantro, rough chopped
1 Cup of white onion, diced
2 Bags of your favorite dipping chips
Place both cheeses into a crock pot (great for easy transportation to the game) gradually stirring to blend. While cheese is melting prepare, your meat. I prefer to use spicy Italian sausage, removing the meat from the skin and browning over medium-high heat until brown. Once meat is done, add it, along with the onion, to the cheeses and allow them to incorporate for another 20 minutes on medium heat. Right before serving, add the cilantro and blend well.
IMPORTANT: You can control the spiciness of this dish by the heat level of the salsa you select!
Playoff Bound – Bacon Wrapped Filets
OK, time to splurge and open up the wallet. When the Texans finally make the playoffs the perfect food to celebrate with is Juicy Filets wrapped with Bacon. This simple and easy favorite will have everyone praying for another win. The only problem will be what do you serve if the Texans make the Super Bowl?
YIELD Serves 8
PREP TIME 15 minutes
COOKING TIME Preference of guests
8 6 ounce filets
8 strips of bacon
salt pepper available for tailgaters
Preparation: Bacon Wrapped Filets
Wrap each, individual filet with one strip of bacon. Insert a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Place into a freezer bag and into the fridge over night. Prepare the grill at the party with hot-white-coals and place the filets over direct heat. Cook as requested by guests: 4-5 minutes each side for medium-rare, adding an additional 2-3 minutes per side for medium and more for medium-well to well-done. The heat level of the grill/coals will dictate cooking time. Remember, this is a hard one to follow-up!
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