The Anatomy of a Tailgate

24 Sep

This weekend is the Penn State/Iowa at Penn State. And while I can’t claim to be as big of a college football fan as my mom, brother, and husband, but if you’ve been reading my blog you know that I never pass up an opportunity to party down.

So I wasn’t formally asked to cater this event, but I was asked to bring a few things. It made me start thinking that a checklist would be a good thing to have on hand for future planning. My brother sent me a Excel spreadsheet, but unfortunately it just had the amounts of things everyone was bringing and not what they were bringing. So below is a “tailgate must-have” list:


Grill (at least one, but the more the merrier)
Music maker, i.e. ipod and speakers, boom box, car radio
table (any kind of flat surface off the ground counts for this, including the hood of a car)
chairs (this is not so necessary but a nice luxury)
Paper products; paper towels, paper plates, plastic forks, knives, etc.
tongs and spatulas for the grill
*if you wanna get fancy, bring some sharp knives, and maybe some spoons and other kitchen-y things you might need like a cutting board

Ok so tailgate food is a one of those things that can ultra impressive of extra basic. It can range from huge porterhouse steaks, to gas station subs. Both have their merit, and I don’t know anyone who would pass up either. The key to choosing a tailgate menu is comfort. Ask yourself what you are comfortable eating outside and what you are comfortable making. For me a tailgate is not the time to try that coq au vin recipe that’s been burning a hole in my cookbook. But that’s just me…I like to go middle of the road with burgers and dogs.

Other things to consider:IMG_0848

Will you have electricity? You might need that for you music generator or the karaoke machine

If using a charcoal grill, do you have charcoal?

Propane grill, uh do you have enough propane?

Do you have matches or other grill lighting devices?

What about ice? Do you like cold beer? Then you need ice. A cooler or large container also helps with this.

Bottled water is another good thing to have on hand. You wash things with it, fill a vase and decorate your tailgate area, freeze it and keep other things cool, use it to put out a small fire, and if it’s clean enough, you can drink it.

Below is the menu (that I know of) for this weekend’s tailgate festivities.

Software (food):

Burgers and Dogs with ketchup and mustards (super low key)
Kielbasa with onion and apple relish (a little more fancy)
chips and more chips
apple, cheddar, walnut salad with roasted apple vinaigrette
apple celery seed slaw
cheese curls
Buffalo Chicken Dip: 1 lb roasted chicken shredded and mixed with 1 bottle of bleu cheese dressing and 1/4-3/4 cup of you favorite hot sauce
celery sticks
Grilled naan pizza, the topping was leftover pot roast from the London Broil post with a horseradish cream sauce (yum)
assorted desserts

Seriously this menu is all over the place and that’s ok. Don’t let any OCD tendencies get in the way of a relaxing weekend. But the star of the show has yet to be mentioned… alcohol. Let’s face it. The truth is that a tailgate is just a fantastic excuse to drink and have a great time with friends. Have fun, but be responsible. (Sorry I had to say it) Cheap beer is traditional, but why not jazz it up and get some good boxed wine, yes there is such a thing. Or go to a Wegmans and make a mixed 6 pack. Try something new. Just be sure to know if you are allowed to have glass on the party property or if you need to stick to plastic and cans.

Most importantly let loose and have fun. Football season is short so even if the tailgate is in your own driveway, party it up and cheer for Penn State! (or your favorite team)

Always thinking of the next meal


5 Responses to “The Anatomy of a Tailgate”

  1. Billy September 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm #


  2. Justine September 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    My dream is to win the lottery and have you be my chef. I will never cook again.
    Every day I will invite all my new friends to
    dine with me.
    Then I will contact the local tv shows to come and film the wonderful meals you will make which will enable me to live to be 110 years of age. Because of the super food you will create.
    Please send me 6 lucky numbers and we will be in business.

    • mrsmarquiss September 24, 2009 at 9:21 pm #

      7, 10, 15, 31, 21, 2 good luck that would be a great gig 🙂

  3. Diane Grant September 28, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Love reading your blog everyday and the “great” recipes. Waiting to hear how the tailgating party went. Keep up the great stories and recipes.

    • mrsmarquiss September 28, 2009 at 6:32 pm #

      it went great! I brought the only “real” food. But I did make Buffalo Chicken Dip that was gone in about 15 minutes 🙂

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