The Tale of the Tailgate

I recently had the opportunity to go on CFRB 1010AM and talk with Ed Prutschi and Barb DiGiulio about tailgating. You can hear me about half way through the recording if you’re so inclined. In preparation for my discussion on-air it gave me a chance to reflect on the 25+ years of tailgating I’ve been doing in various NFL stadiums around the US. Over the years I’ve fired up the grill in Atlanta, Nashville, New York, Pttsburgh, Buffalo, Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, Washington and Cleveland! Sometimes for a car full for 3 or 4 guys but sometimes for dozens of revelers in giant sponsored BBQ events. If you’ve never been to an NFL tailgate it’s really something to behold. Fans arrive hours (4+ hours!) before game time to crack open a beer, light the grill, toss a ball and just a great all-around time with like-minded fans of both teams. So what wisdom can I bestow on you if you’re looking to take in an NFL game and get the full experience?

  1. Do Your Research – not all NFL stadiums were created equal. I’ve found there are a few variables that really make a difference when it comes to a good tailgate. If the stadium is in the middle of a big downtown core with sporadic parking it’s tough to get a good tailgate going. Tailgating is about sharing the experience with hundreds of other fans. If you’re in a downtown parking lot between two office buildings you’re probably not going to maximize that experience. The best stadiums have wide open parking lots around the stadium that serve the purpose way better. Stadiums like those in Buffalo and Green Bay are great examples of perfect tailgate lots. Do a little research ahead of time. You may have to pay a little more (or sometimes less) to get into the best tailgate lots, but it’s totally worth it!. Secondly, if the team you go to watch is in a working class city where fans work hard all week but play hard on Sunday – again, you’re in good company. The rust belt is a perfect way to ensure the fans are hard core and ready to party.
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  2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare – make sure you think through everything you’ll need. Bring all of your food and beverages with you. Bring all of the grills, tents, chairs, utensils, football, and make sure you prepare for the elements. The last thing you want to do is have the weather ruin your day. prepare for warm, cold, rain, snow and everything in between.
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  3. Pimp Your Ride – Obviously your vehicle has to be big enough to fit your crew and your gear, but a big part of tailgating is the journey to and from the game. I’ll often rent a vehicle to ensure I maximize that part of the journey. One of my favourites to rent is the Toyota Highlander. The 2016 and 2017 versions allow multiple phones to simultaneously connect to the bluetooth system and switching between them is super easy. That means whether you want to have a spontaneous sing along to Chicago 17 (I plead the 5th whether this happened on a recent road trip) or listen to comedy clips on youtube it’s easy to swap between devices hooked into the stereo system. It also has a bird’s eye view monitor which will ensure you’ve got your vehicle in the perfect parking position to ensure you can get easy access to all of your tailgate gear. This vehicle was just meant for road trips like this.
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  4. Go Big Or Go Home – You want to have a good time at a tailgate party. Sure hot dogs and burgers will do… but you are going to make a lot more friends if you dream big! Stop at the butcher and get a little creative. Giant slabs of ribs, turkey legs etc. do nicely. Borrow a giant grill or your buddy’s rotisserie. The more impressive your spread, the more attention you’ll garner and the more friends you’ll make. Suddenly your tailgate is the life of the party. Do it right!
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Sweet Potato, Lentil and Leek Soup

One of our family favourites right now. We make this every week because it’s just that delicious.

You literally throw everything in the slow cooker and come back in the evening for an dinner everyone will love. I often serve with some garlic toast.

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only)
3/4 cup dried yellow or red lentils
1 teaspoon curry powder
Kosher salt
1 pound skirt steak beef, cut into 6 inch pieces

Instructions 

  1. Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Add 8 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Set on low.
  2. Cook for 8 to 10 hours. Remove the beef and blend the soup to a thick consistency.
  3. Season to taste. Return the beef to the pot and enjoy!

STUBB’S Jam Jar Chili & Cornbread Giveaway

 

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Football season has kicked off! That means that more often than not I’ve got a house full of people on Sunday watching the game and looking for something delicious to chow down.

This year is also the first year my son is playing on a football team. Not flag football, but legit tackle football. It’s a bit scary as a dad knowing he’s going up against guys twice his size – but I’m really enjoying how the whole family has embraced the football culture. Practices, games, and of course tailgating…

When Josh comes off the field he is HUNGRY! A go-to for me is always a bottle of Stubb’s BBQ sauces. I love keeping tailgating simple and look to add flavour with a quick hit of BBQ sauce as I finish grilling meat on the grill or with a marinade the night before the game. Stubb’s sauces are a super-easy way to add flavor to whatever I’m grilling. Stubb’s entire line is certified gluten-free and contains no high fructose corn syrup – which I love.

If you want to know the awesomeness of Stubb’s, then come join the conversation on Twitter. Let me know your favourite thing to cook up when the gang comes over to watch football and you’ll have a chance to win a prize pack for some Stubb’s swag and coupons for free Stubb’s sauces and marinades.

I was not compensated in any way for this post or giveaway. All opinions are my own.

 

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STUBB’S Jam Jar Chili & Cornbread Giveaway

Serves 8

Ingredients

3 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
1/2 cup chili powder
1 1/4 cup onion, diced
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 cup lager beer
1 1/2 cup beef stock
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 12 oz. can tomato paste
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
2 boxes cornbread, prepared to batter stage
8 12 oz. jam jars

Cooking Instructions

  1. Add beef, chili powder, onions, and garlic to a large stock pot. Cook until all of the beef is browned.
  2. Once browned, add in the beer and beef stock to and deglaze the pot.
  3. After deglazing, add in the remaining ingredients and stir. Let simmer covered for thirty minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spoon 1 cup of chili into each jam jar. Top with 1/4 cup of cornbread batter. Place jars on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until cornbread is golden brown.
  5. Let chili rest for 15 minutes before serving.
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