Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Sausage Maker Guide to Tailgate Food

We’re nearly halfway through August, and while that means prime grilling time is coming to an end, we’re also nearing the kickoff to one of the best times of year for cooking: football season.

Yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Your average tailgate features nothing but domestic beer and brats, which don’t exactly present a challenge for the chef or a surprise for the taste buds. You can surf Pinterest for Super Bowl food ideas, but your table will still mostly consist of chips and dip, grocery store hot dogs and football-shaped desserts. Looking for some game day recipes your guests will actually remember? Roll up your sleeves and get into the kitchen—we’re here to save your tailgate.

The Appetizers

Our favorite pregame appetizers are ones you can carry around the tailgate and munch on throughout the game, without fear of knocking over your plate when things get exciting. We’re especially partial to handheld football snacks, and that doesn’t have to mean store-bought.

Like the convenience of a Slim Jim but wish it could be… better? Try making your own meatier, adult-ier snack sticks. We like ours made from pork, in a slightly larger diameter than your average convenience store size. Think smoky, not tangy, letting your smokehouse do the flavoring or adding it via liquid smoke. The Sausage Maker carries a DIY dried sausage sticks kit that comes with everything you’ll need except the meat—just follow the kit’s instructions and you’ll have plenty to feed a crowd.

If you want an even more finger-friendly food and need something you can sneak past stadium security in your pockets (shh… you didn’t hear it from us), jerky is the way to go. Professional-quality jerky can be made with ground or whole-muscle meat and a good dehydrator, flavored with the seasoning of your choice. Make a few batches with different spices if you’re looking to please lots of varied tastes. We recommend a smoky flavor for classic jerky lovers or something with more of a kick for our Bills Mafia brethren once we reach those winter games.

The Entrée

If you’re set on serving sausages at your tailgate, we salute you. Why, it would be downright blasphemous to discourage you. But variety is the spice of life, after all, and even a brat-loving crowd can get behind something a little more unexpected from time to time. Our bold suggestion for this year’s season opener? Fish ‘n’ chips.

Bringing a deep fryer to a tailgate might sound cumbersome, but you’d be surprised how much easier it can be than even a portable grill. Choose a nice, flaky cod and a good beer batter, plus a bag full of Russets and you’re good to go. If you’ve never brought homemade fries to a party, trust us—that fryer will be on the whole time and your fellow football fans will tell tales of your awesomeness for weeks to come. Get your batters and fryers here and your fry cutter right here.

If you’re going with a heavier meat option like pork or beef, we recommend our Memphis Style Barbecue Rub. It’s one of our most popular, perfect as a dry rub or (insider tip) as a marinade if you just add water.

The Side

Most Super Bowl snacks and recipes aren’t known for their healthfulness, but we know of at least one healthy tailgate food that’s easy to sneak by the meat lovers. A mandolin shredder is yet another handheld, extremely portable tool that makes cole slaw as easy as a couple of swipes. Red and green cabbage, carrots, beets—just about anything can go through the mandolin and make a great topping for fried fish tacos too. Just be careful you don’t take off a finger after a few beers.

Our mouths are already watering in anticipation of football season. Have a favorite recipe we didn’t mention here? Share it with us on Facebook and Pinterest and we might just feature it on our blog! Go Bills!