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Quick Ideas For Tailgate Cooks

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Let's Get Ready to Tailgate! - I spent a few fun hours last week taping several more tailgate segments for the CSS Network. In case you did not notice its FOOTBALL TIME!

The segments run every Friday night during the CSS Sports Nite Show. CSS is Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast Network. They air in about 11 Southeastern States. The tips are designed to offer some quick and easy tailgate ideas for people heading to SEC and other Southern Football Stadiums this upcoming season.

During the CSS show I get about 3 to 7 minutes to knock out a few tailgate cooking tips with one of the hosts outside before I send it back to the inside crew for more football, baseball and racing. That's not a lot of time to get something going. So the tips I have been able to give are often along the lines of pre prep and smaller items. I've put together some of the information I've shared with our CSS viewers below.

Here are a few quick ideas for tailgate chefs that can make your next tailgate a pretty good time.

#1 - KEEP IT SIMPLE - As much as you want to impress your buddies, and tailgate rivals, a simple menu that can be prepared quickly and served quickly is always a winner. Now this does not mean you can't have great ribs or anything else. It just means don't spend all day cooking at the tailgate without producing some food! Your HUNGRY guests are waiting! You could pre-smoke some ribs and pulled pork and even some chicken. Use your grills or smokers to reheat the final product. Or stick to brats, burgers, wings and such. That way you can add in secret recipes for sauces and sides to knock your tailgate buddies taste buds out! Of course if you want to spend the whole tailgate doing nothing besides cooking while everyone else pre-game parties... then knock yourself out!

#2 - COLD & HOT - During the early months of tailgate season the weather is often brutal here in the South. Plan your menu to reflect the weather conditions. During Hot weather go with menus that are not too "Heavy." Sandwiches, salads, pasta, shrimp and such. Look at traditional picnic items for suggestions. When cold weather rolls around that's when I get the ribs, brats, Italian sausage sandwiches and pots of chili, stew and gumbo.

#3 - PRE PREP - My wife, Ally, is a tailgate prep master. Growing up on the plains of Alabama watching the Auburn Tigers and tailgating to extremes has made her the perfect tailgate planner. Almost 90% of everything we cook at a tailgate is pre chopped, diced, sliced, marinated or even cooked. Need chopped onions, peppers or extra pineapple for grilled apple deserts? Just reach in the cooler and pull out the storage container. Of course, the storage container is properly labeled. I love that lady!

#4 - DOING THE QUE - I love barbecue! While I'm not a big fn of reheating ribs and such I will for a football game. If I don't reheat and cook on site it simply boils down to a time in a day equation. You may not have enough time before a game to cook ribs for hours and hours. So precook and reheat, or grill them. Check out the grilled rib recipe in the CSS recipe section of my website www.thedeckchef.com

#5 - QUICK THOUGHTS - Here are some things that make any tailgate go smooth. Have plenty of ice, water and beverages. Have clean wipes, napkins and paper towels. Take garbage bags, bug spray, band aids and antacid. Dress for the weather. Take a poncho, sweater, blanket or for hot days an extra shirt. Check your grill, gas, propane, charcoal or wood. Extra chairs, a covered area and some game day music would be great. And don't forget a football!

#6 - CHECK FIRST - Every stadium and school has different rules about tailgating. If you're going to a new place for an away game, get online and check to see what, when and where you can tailgate. You also want to look and see if they have regulations about open flames.

Have Fun At The Game!

Shrimp Dipping Sauce
Perfect for grilled shrimp, fried shrimp, coconut shrimp and more.
1 cup sour cream
1/ 2 cup coconut shredded
1/3 cup pina-colada drink mix
Mix all together, chill and add crushed pineapple before serving.

Tailgate Italian Meatball Sandwich
1 bag frozen meatballs
4 -5 links Italian Sausage sliced
1 small onion sliced
1 green pepper sliced
1 jar pizza sauce
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder
Combine everything in a foil pan and mix well. Add large dashes of Italian seasoning and garlic. Cover with foil and heat on the grill until simmering. Serve spoonfuls on hot dog buns or mini French buns topped with cheese. You can also make these into Kabobs and baste with the sauce!

Tailgate Brunch Eggs In A Bag
In a heavy duty zip close bag and two med eggs, Sliced ham, Chopped onions, cheese and some salt and pepper. Close the bag and place in boiling water. Keep away from the edges using tongs. The eggs will cook in the bag. Remove from water, open the bag and serve. Serve on tortilla with salsa and cheese or just eat and enjoy.

Game Day Barbecue Sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup mustard
1/ 3 cup brown sugar
1/ 3 cup melted butter
1/ 4 cup vinegar
1/ 4 cup minced onion
Combine all and chill. Great for dipping and topping foods.

Honey Grilled Ham
Use some THICK ham slices! Toss them on a hot grill and baste with some butter, honey and a touch of salt and pepper. Grill until they brown. Serve sliced on Texas toast, English muffin or a biscuit. Add eggs and cheese.

- Originally published on Chattanoogan.com

Kent Whitaker

Kent Whitaker, also known as "The Deck Chef," is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He's also penned Young Reader and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill.

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