What better way to kick start the football season than to have a tailgate party? Tailgate parties can range from the pack-the-sandwiches-and-chips event to an exotic barbecue. Whatever may be your style, the key to having the successful tailgate party is to plan. Below are tailgate party ideas for football season.
Plan the menu, stock up on supplies, especially of disposable wares. Use separate coolers for hot and cold food, and use disposable items and Ziploc bags for easy cleanup. Here are some menu ideas for you to take along.
Apart from chips and nachos, you could have jalapeno roll-ups, ham pinwheels, kebabs, steaks and even Texas caviar.
The more intrepid could try barbecue beef, bourbon barbecued steaks, turkey picnic loaf or a creamy chicken and pasta salad. Accompaniments could be the time-honored three bean salad, Greek salad, fresh greens or a broccoli and cauliflower salad. Rustle up your own “Tailgate Salad” with corn, green beans, celery, onions, and pimentos. Dress it up with a dressing or seasoning of your choice.
You could also do an entirely cold main course, with a chicken wings platter, a classic deli platter, or sub sandwiches. Your side dishes could vary from the favorite nacho dip with cheese or just chips with a dip to a fresh vegetable combination to sliced pepperoni and cheese.
Beverages would depend almost entirely on the weather. If the weather is warm, take a beer (remember to chill it beforehand) or sodas. If it’s cool, hot chocolate or hot coffee will do wonders. Desserts can be chocolates or cookies if you are staying with the simple theme. Other options are lemon bars, brownies, and butter tart bars. If you are baking cookies yourself, try your hand at football cookies to pep up the game theme.
To make your tailgate party a successful one, consider some of these ideas:
Keep it simple. Recipes with too many ingredients, or those that require precision cooking techniques, don’t work well at the stadium.
Don’t be afraid to attempt new dishes. The beginning tailgater might want to stick to the basics – hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks perhaps. But why not bring some exciting innovations to the stadium, just as your team’s offensive coordinator is hopefully doing. There are many wonderful books on backyard grilling that can give you ideas on how to vary your menu.
Prepare as much ahead as you can. You can put the spice rubs or marinades on your meat dishes the night before. Then at the stadium just take the meat out of the cooler and get it on the grill. In general, longer marinating time results in more flavorful meat. In the morning before you leave, you can get most of the prep work done–cutting, seasoning, etc. Let’s say you are making your patented pork chili dish. You can have all the ingredients ready and put in their containers or plastic bags, so all you have to do when you get to the game is get the chili pot warm on the grill, pop open the containers and add the ingredients together.
Finally, don’t forget to bring your Traeger wood pellet grill! Make sure to pack sufficient wood pellets in the back of your truck or car, along with the grill itself. Without the grill, you’ll end up with just beers, condiments and raw meat in the parking lot.
Whether you are going for the game or the tailgate, the idea is to have fun, so enjoy the cookout and the cheer!
Finally, if you’re in the market for your first Traeger grill or looking into buying your first one, check out our critical appraisal of various Traegers before making your decision.