Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tailgating Essentials - What's on your menu?

I was recently lucky enough to get my hands on a couple Pittsburgh Steeler tickets for today's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. I know, I know - it's only preseason, the fourth game doesn't matter, we'll probably rest the starters, blah blah blah the game will suck blah. But trust me, that doesn't mean I don't plan on having a rock-awesome time... during and especially BEFORE the game.

Parking lots open five hours before kickoff, which gives plenty of time for tailgating shenanigans - and by shenanigans I of course mean food and adult beverage consumption. And cornhole... I really like playing cornhole (bean bag toss game). But really, it's about the food and brew.

I've got a pretty sweet little menu today, if I do say so myself. Today we'll be indulging in some slow cooked Italian Beef, creamy macaroni salad and salt and vinegar potato chips. Believe me when I tell you, this beef melts in your mouth. And it's so easy (1 lb. lunchmeat roast beef from deli, italian dressingseasoning packet, jar of sliced pepperoncinis (drained) and jar of beef broth - slow cooker for a few hours - heaven).

My question today is what are some of your favorite tailgating foods? As you can see from my menu, I'm not messing with bringing a charcoal grill out to the middle of a parking lot when it's 90+ degrees, so the opportunities are endless. Below are my five faves, based on the following characteristics: not too expensive, not too hard to transport, not too time-consuming to make and good with beer. Allow me to apologize in advance to any vegetarians - you're cool, but I like meat (thatswhatshesaid). Here you go...

Kielbasa and Saurkraut
I like it best when you slow cook in with brown sugar and caraway, then finish it on the grille if possible, just to get some char on there.

Cocktail Meatballs
So many possibilities: sweet and sour, barbecue, italian... my wife makes a killer meatball sauce that is sort of a hybrid between sweet and sour and barbecue. My mouth is currently watering.

Burgers and Dogs
Simple, classic, delicious. The only thing I don't like about these American staples from a tailgaing sense is the necessity for condiments.

Sloppy Joes/Ham BBQ
I'm not sure why these go together, but they do for me for some reason. Like my Italian Beef, they can be made early, put in a slow cooker and busted out in the parking lot, ready to enjoy.

Homemade Dips
A few of my favorites are buffalo chicken, sloppy joe, spinach and mexican. Again, all can be made early and make for an awesome side or appetizer.

It would be great if you would add to this list, friends, winkwink. I'm positive you have better, more creative ideas that can help this wonderful little community get their eat on before gametime.

Until next time, let's go Steelers, hugs and kisses all around. Come back at 4 p.m. for your Ride links.

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